Behind the blend. An interview
We sat down for a chat with our founder and botanical perfumer, Emma, to find out why she is so passionate about aromatherapy.
How did you get into aromatherapy?
I have been interested in flowers and the outdoors since I was a child. I went to an outward-bound boarding school, which involved hikes into the Scottish Highlands, and this exposed me to different aspects of the natural world. I became interested in how nature can positively affect us, both by exploring (forest or mountain bathing!) but also how use plants to heal body and mind.
When I left university, I worked in marketing and then, through a family business, began supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy and spa industries. Next, I became a botanical perfumer, formulating therapeutic blends for major brands, and then qualified as an aromatherapist. 10 years later and I’m still working privately with clients (alongside my businesses!) to create bespoke blends to meet their specific needs.
How do you approach the blending process?
The first thing I think about is what the therapeutic properties of the new blend need to be. Does it need to calm, uplift, de-stress, clear, or ground the mind? If I am creating for a client, I then find out more about them; not only what smells they like but what colours and sensations they’d like their blend to represent and whether they want it to be warm or cool. Some clients like to tell me about the music they like, poems they’ve enjoyed reading – anything really that has touched them. This all builds up a picture of who they are inside.
Once I have all the information I need, I then select the oils on their therapeutic properties and build an accord in the same way a traditional perfumer would; balancing top, middle and bass notes. My passion is rare and unusual oils and I’m very lucky to know several niche growers producing some truly unique oils, so I try and incorporate those where I can. As essential oils take time to settle in a blend, I then wait at least 24 hours for the true aroma to reveal itself.
As an aromatherapist, have you ever had an “aha” moment, when you see your blends have really made a difference?
My aromatherapy massage practice specialises in mid-life women and those living with cancer or post chemotherapy. Although I do general massage, I enjoy helping these two groups in particular. Clients who are living with cancer, or the aftermath of their treatment, benefit so much from aromatherapy and massage – touch is such a human need and many practitioners are nervous about treating these clients. I love seeing how our sessions help them during a very difficult time. It’s the same for women going through menopause. Oils can help soothe, calm, cool and help sleep which is a particular issue I come across.
How do you use aromatherapy in your home?
I use essential oils all the time! I have a diffuser in my office to help me concentrate and use my own homemade body washes and creams daily. I’ll put a few drops of lavender in my bath at the end of a hard day and a few drops on my pillow. I also have a fantastic necklace which has a small absorbent stone which I put a few drops of blend on if I need a quick mood boost. Rollerballs are also great for this too.
You’ve travelled a lot on your search for new, exotic oils, where is your favourite place to visit?
Where to start! I love the oils like Cape Chamomile that are coming out of South Africa at the moment. The oils are absolutely beautiful, and my last visit was wonderful. I particularly enjoyed meeting Argan Oil producers in the Atlas Mountains, where there are communities of women collecting the kernels and extracting the oil by hand. Not only is it the best quality oil, but it empowers women to have their own income which offers them economic freedom. Women’s rights are another passion of mine and I ensure all our oils come from producers who respect this or are female owned. I have also travelled in Australia to look at the Tea Tree plantations and learn how this wonderfully medicinal oil is produced. I got to grips with the process from plant to bottle, which was incredible. And of course, I couldn’t answer this question without mentioning the lavender fields of the South of France… they’re an aromatherapist and perfumer’s paradise!
What are your favourite oils at the moment and why?
At the moment I am loving Honey Myrtle. It’s an incredibly unique oil – in fact the farm in Perth where it is produced is the only place it is made in the world! It’s a stunning oil, super powerful with proven antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. It smells divine too; a lemony honey that is far more powerful than its famous cousin Tea Tree.
One of my other favourites is Cape Chamomile. Sadly, it’s very hard to buy because of severe droughts, but it’s not an oil you are likely to forget! Cape Chamomile is electric blue and smells just like pear drops. It has all of the therapeutic properties of German Chamomile but with an unmistakable sweetness. It’s a scent that touches me to the very core – I love it!