Amanda of Esscentual Alchemy
- Can you tell us about your background and history?
I like to say that I've been into natural scents my whole life, having grown up on an Iowa farm. I loved perfumes as a teen – I had many different types. One I remember was actually meant to be layered, though it wasn't called that. I thought it was really cool to have two separate fragrances, that became something new when put together. I used to go to the perfume bar at Garden Botanika when I was in college. I thought it was such fun to take an idea, mix it up, and see what resulted from your inspiration! I came in so much they eventually offered me a job there, but I was too busy with my vocal performance degree to accept.
- When did the brand start and it's inspiration?
I guess you could say the event that really got me started more seriously with perfuming was a DIY kit that was a gift for my birthday from my husband. That led me to google indie perfumery, and to natural perfume. I was in the middle of reading Essence and Alchemy by Mandy Aftel, and found the picture of Septimus Piesse's Odophone (From The Art of Perfumery And Methods of Obtaining the Odors of Plants). That was my light-bulb moment. I remember thinking, “I already know how to do this!” As a music major, you are required to take many classes on music theory, music history, composition of music, orchestration, and even counterpoint. There are many similarities between composing music, and perfume. Each have notes, and chords. You want your composition to be balanced nicely, and "don't end on the seven!" A music joke meaning you want a harmonious resolution. I feel that my music training has enriched my perfume artistry, and adds another layer of complexity to my scented compositions. That's why I say, “I compose music for your nose.”
How did I come up with the name for my business, you might wonder?
These three words:
Essential: refers to that which is in the natural composition of a thing.
Sensual: the enjoyments derived from the senses, especially from the gratification or indulgence of physical appetites
Alchemy: any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.
- What is your process for creating a perfume?
I get inspired from many things in life – often my ideas come from literature, music, visual art, sometimes it's just a word that intrigues me. I write them all down in my journal, and wait for the Muses to whisper in my ear. Sometimes I'm invited to participate in a group project. My latest release, Pro Fond, was the result of a scented dream that I had. What I do my best to convey to people when they wear my perfumes is emotion in a bottle. I like to tell people a beautiful natural perfume should take you someplace emotionally, and make you think. Similar to art you can't stop looking at to try and discover the meaning behind the piece. Music that is so beautiful it makes you cry, or the book you can't put down until you've finished it, because the author crafted such a compelling story. When I create a perfume, those things are always part of my vision for the final product.
I love this quote about fragrance. It sums up my creative process:
"Fragrance takes you on a journey of time. You can walk down the street and pass someone and get taken back 20 years. It's very Proustian that way." ~ Daphne Guinness
- What is it like to be on the independent side of the industry?
Being an independent fragrance line gives me a great deal of freedom to create whatever I choose, however I choose. I'm not bound by the marketing department's idea of what's best for the next quarter.
- Your line is all natural, can you explain on what that may means for those that wear your scents?
Natural perfumes are made by blending pure essential oils and absolutes (derived from plants, flowers and resins, not synthetic fragrance oils) in a base of alcohol or jojoba oil. Natural perfumes help people connect with the natural world around them. Natural perfumes are an aroma-therapeutic experience, since our sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses we have. Another wonderful thing about natural perfume is that each person's unique body chemistry fuses with the perfume differently, creating a unique signature scent that no one else will be able to perfectly achieve.
- And what are the locations or channels one can go to, to try or purchase the line.
You can find my complete line on Esscentual Alchemy's website
- And finally where do you see the fragrance industry in the next 5 years or what would you like to see happen?
That's a great question! I think with the internet, we'll see more and more indie perfumers. People who want to create according to their own imagination and vision. This is a benefit to the perfume industry, since it allows you to connect directly with your tribe, and also to share with the perfume community.