Perfumes By Nature
- Can you tell us your back ground?
I'm a professional perfumer who specializes in botanical scents. It's been my passion and obsession for over 30 years...and nowadays I run a small indie perfume house in Byron Bay, Australia, and sell both my own stock line there, online and in shops around Australia. I also do custom design for individuals and other businesses as well as running classes and workshops on botanical perfumery in my studio.
- Have you always had a interest in scent or fragrances?
Heavens yes. One of my earliest memories is making “perfumes” out of roses and pine needles in my mothers garden as a little kid... I later started collecting perfumes and old books and recipes on perfume and cosmetics. I used to scour museums for old texts and eventually started collecting the ingredients mentioned and recreating these mystical potions and lotions....
Nowadays I have a huge collection of oils and tinctures from all over the world, barks, tree resins and more...and I've also learned to extract some of them myself since they just aren't available commercially any more....It was quite an adventure! It took me decades to track down some of the more obscure ingredients, as they are no longer being produced or used by any of the modern perfume houses... I traveled through many countries learning and sniffing along the way, and finally ended up in Australia in Byron Bay near the beach, a land of clean air and sunshine, where I've been able to finally settle and focus on creating my own line of perfumes using the ancient perfumery skills and combining them with modern aromatherapy to create what I've always wanted to create: truly stunning beautiful natural perfumes...
It's a lot of fun...and such a sought after niche market it turns out! Modern perfumery has got a bit lost in modern chemistry and the commercial search for cheap, intense, ever different and new scents....
And many people really want perfume that smells like real flowers, without just being a simple essential oil that reminds them of a hippie shop. Actual botanical perfumery is far more complex than simple aromatherapy, and people are really craving elegant magical truly natural perfumes.
- Before you started your journey into scent what were you doing?
I have worked in a number of different healing modalities...as a massage therapist, I also studied Chinese acupressure, aromatherapy and herbalism....Ive worked as a translator for esoteric workshops while living in German, taught meditation, energy healing, dance in various forms, and have written for various magazines on traditional herbalism and perfumery.
I worked as a nurse in emergency and also as a remote area nurse on aboriginal communities in Central Australia, where I got to see smell and hear stories about the incredibly rich history of the many amazing plants used for food and healing out in the Australian desert!. At the moment I'm in the process of writing two books: One a workbook on healing in all of its various forms and another on botanical perfumery
- Can you talk a little about the works that you now have?
- What is your creative process?
There's two major things that usually inspire a perfume for me:
The first is usually a specific ingredient: “Death by Chocolate” was created after a friend of mine sent me a large bottle of pure cacao absolute. The deep dark brown liquid has one of the most amazing musky scents to it...it is so much more than just “chocolate-ish. It has layers of wood, almost animal musk and sweet aldehydic notes to it that were just calling out to be made into a perfume. So I created a chocolate scent that showcases these notes, by adding woods and honey and spice to accentuate the musk and depth without changing its character....no flower notes of fruits, just musky woody depth to showcase how elegant and deep pure cacao really is.....
The other is trying to create a specific effect.
“Love Potion” is just that. It started with a request from a lonely friend, so I gathered together all the many many recipes for traditional Love Potions I had collected over the years (and boy, there are a lot! Humans seem to have focused on trying to use scent to attract the opposite sex since time began! In fact you could almost think it's the main aim of perfumery through the ages!) I took the ingredients that I liked the best, and also looked at their effect from an Aromatherapy point of view as well, and then played with them till I came up with a perfume that both smelt exciting and sexy, as well as having the aromatherapy effect of making the wearer “feel” sexy, so that was the energy they were putting out..... It's based around jasmine, the Queen of all aphrodisiac flowers, combined with spices such as cardamon and coriander that are counted as traditional aphrodisiacs. Making it a lovely oriental style perfume
“Happiness” I originally made for myself when I was living in Berlin and used to get incredibly depressed during the long dark winters there.... It combines a number of ingredients that are used in Indian Aryuveda to treat depression and anxiety, buttery soothing sandalwood and deeply comforting patchouli, as well as beautiful citrus top-notes that are lively and cheerful.... the end effect is a lovely unisex cologne that is just perfect for everyday wear... and is still one of my best sellers after 20 years.....
- What are it's theme and what inspires you?
Well, the name I chose for the business pretty much sums it up: I design and make Natural perfumes, drawing on the traditional recipes I've collected from all over the world. I'm trying to resurrect the true history of perfumery, combining it with modern aromatherapy. Simply beautiful perfumes made from all of the wonderful neglected scented ingredients mother nature has given us. I take inspiration from the ancient art of perfumery in Egypt, India and also Europe. French and Italian perfumes the way they were made from scratch before modern chemistry started to replace things like real rose oil for its cheaper crude copies, freshly pressed lemon oil, real lavender from the actual plants grown in sunny fields, tree resins, extracts of fruits....
Looking ahead for your work and for the fragrance world what do you see coming? I think there is more and more interest in “naturals”. People are tired of artificial fragrances, and are looking for alternatives. It's sill an area where we botanical perfumers have to do a lot of education though, as most people don't really understand that even the big expensive perfume houses haven't been using natural ingredients for some time. There is a HUGE amount of misleading advertising out there (such as so called “natural” soy candles that may have a natural soy wax base, but use completely artificial scent oils!).
And a number of cosmetic companies marketing themselves as natural, such as the body shop, who, again, use artificial fragrance oils. Same goes for the cheap Indian oils in hippie stores. Many people have never smelt a true botanical perfume.
Luckily ready access to the internet has made it possible for small indie perfumers to enter the market and start changing this! And I think this will grow more and more as people really want something “different”. It also allows us to interact directly with fragrance lovers....
I find people love hearing the stories of how perfumes are created...and what inspired each of them....and it allows me to share the knowledge I've picked up over 30 years and explain what Botanical Perfumery actually is!
It's far more like having a small village perfumery where you get to know both the perfumer, and the perfumer knows their clients.... and custom design is an even bigger market, being able to offer fragrance lovers their own special personal scent that no one else has...or ever will have!