If five years ago you had told me that I could be a perfumer, I’d have rolled my eyes. Truthfully, and please don’t hate me for saying so, but I despised perfume at that time.
Why then did I go into perfumery? My reason for loathing perfume wasn’t an aesthetic one–I have chemical sensitivities. Inhaling chemical-laden perfume can make me very, very sick. For many years I had to avoid fragrance in all its forms. When I discovered essential oils did not make me sick, an incredible world opened up to me.
My mother used the oils for aromatherapy, but I blended them for scent. Every new oil I acquired became a new realm of possibilities.
Some natural perfumers strive to be accepted into mainstream fine perfumery, but I am happy to make it as something altogether different. Naturals are certainly worthy of the status of a fine French parfum, but the types are different enough that direct comparison is not really fitting. Natural perfumes don’t share all the properties of modern mainstream perfume, but most natural perfumers and perfume wearers like it that way.
But as long as we’re comparing, the thought of bringing back naturals to the mainstream is quite exciting. It feels like the revival of a lost art. Aside from rose and perhaps a few others, no one of my generation knows what the ‘real thing’ even smells like. It’s like eating a ripe, fresh strawberry when all you’ve ever known of strawberry were Fruit Roll-Ups. One’s first whiff of an exotic flower or a rich resin is like an epiphany. For me, it’s pure bliss.