Featured | Christine Chanter Botanicals
Every so often on the PGM blog we're going to introduce a slightly longer format, a featurette, if you will. In our premier edition, on Valentine's Day, we're talking with Christine Chanter, a perfumer from Toronto who crafts decadent scents with natural essential oils, a veritable treat for the senses. These photos were taken by PGM contributor Rebecca Wood; Christine was interviewed by our lovely intern Caroline Ariail.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN CHRISTINE CHANTER BOTANICALS?
When I first became spellbound by essential oils, I was focused on the medicinal aspects of the oils and I trained with PhD chemists, naturopathic physicians, those who write the scientific texts, the French and German schools. I made therapeutic blends for headaches, insomnia, viral influenza etc. But eventually the intoxicating fragrances of these powerful oils were so alluring that I found myself just wanting to wear some of them. I made up small perfume batches and sold to friends and private clients. 'Oh you smell so good', was what we so often heard, even lining up at the store. At the same time it started to come to light, that there were harmful effects from the chemicals in standard perfumes and colognes. I could see it was time to share the healthy alternative. We could wear nature, bring Madagascar and Peru and Provence with us, in our every day.
HOW DO YOU DEVELOP EACH DIFFERENT SCENT?
At first, I sit back and imagine what theme the scent will have...crisp and citrusy, sultry or spicy, woodsy and so on. Then I'll choose what I imagine will be in it and line up a few bottles....10 to 20 drops of a middle note in a small glass jar, to start, say petitgrain which is the leaf of the citrus. There are base, middle and top notes in fragrance. Floral blossoms are top notes, the ones that hit you first in a fragrance. On their own, they can be too heady and so need to be grounded, pulled in, tamed if you will. Now, 2 or 3 drops of those top notes. Swirl, dip in a perfume blotter strip, wave it around. Not there, yet. Grab another blotter strip and add a drop of base note, say sandalwood, directly on that paper strip. Hold the strips close to each other and sniff. And so on. Once the blend seems good. Let it sit. Try it again. Fine tune. A blend of essential oils is called a synergy. The next step is dilution in a base of alcohol or a vegetable, nut or seed oil. I use organic jojoba as a base oil for both my perfumes and my therapeutic oils. It is nourishing for the skin and keeps well, much longer than other oils.
AT PURE GREEN WE'RE REALLY CONSCIOUS OF WHAT WE USE ON OUR BODIES, AND I KNOW YOU ONLY USE PURE, NATURAL INGREDIENTS. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO MAKE YOUR PRODUCT THIS WAY?
I was into healthy eating and herbal remedies by the time I was 20; I lived in a cabin in the woods, the whole bit. There was no question that my ingredients would not only be all natural, but that they would be sourced from the finest artisans. Oftentimes they are small family owned farms—committed to slow careful distillation practices—producers who respect the subtle nuances these aromatic plants have to offer. And if the oils are from wild plants, then it's important that there is a sustainability to the harvesting. It is nature, pure and simple, and we have a responsibility to steward our green world with reverence.
HAVE YOU SEEN A GROWING INTEREST IN NATURAL BODY PRODUCTS BY CONSUMERS?
It seems every day, in all walks of life, I see a steady growing market for the real and a turning away from the synthetic. My customer base is from pretty much all walks of life, young and old; it's not alternative now. It's mainstream, and that's exciting.
TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR PHYTO-THERAPY LINE AND THE MUSCLE PERFUME (NOTE: THESE ARE NOT PERFUMES, THEY ARE A THERAPEUTIC ROLL-ON).
Phyto means plant. I developed 'Muscle' for my clients with aching or tight muscles as well as joint issues. I chose oils that are analgesic or pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, circulation enhancing and so on. It's refreshing and invigorating and best of all, the feedback is a big thumbs up for relief. The roll-on top makes it easy to apply. It's highly concentrated for targeting those sore spots. A little goes a long way. A friend of mine told her husband he could stop wearing 'that cologne' and just wear Muscle, it smells so good!
WHAT ARE OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF USING ESSENTIAL OILS, PARTICULARLY THOSE WITHOUT CHEMICALS?
Essential oils cover a broad spectrum of health benefits, from headaches to infections, diaper rash to cancer. The Europeans have included it in their standard medical treatments, all along. North America is finally catching on. There are three grades of oil on the market; 'industrial' for cleaners, candy etc., 'pure and natural' which can vary widely in quality, then 'genuine and authentic' which is the highest grade and the best for true aromatherapy. To guarantee that there are no chemical additives or inferior plant materials in your oils, shop for the genuine grade. Your nose will know, too.
WHAT FRAGRANCE IS YOUR MOST POPULAR? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
No. 6 seems to be my most popular, lately, both for women and men. It has a soft spicy bite. But No. 1 has been a huge long time fave. It's all earth, if you will. Folks who don't want anything resembling floral. Hmmm, my favourite varies. Lately, I've been combining No. 7 and No. 5; bit of blood orange and jasmine, throw in exotic patchouli (patchouli gets a bad rap because there's so much inferior cheap stuff out there—smell the organic authentic version and wow!) oh yah!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SLOGAN, "FRAGRANCE UNLOCKS OUR HEARTS".
When we let go, relax, feel relieved, chill...we take a deep breath. Our chests expand and we fill ourselves with life, literally. When we breathe in a fragrance that we love, we smile, we feel good, we feel at home. Our hearts open.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO WHEN NOT CRAFTING NEW SCENTS?
I'm a big live music fan. I ran a music festival for a long time and love to go out and see my friends play.