Roxana's Illuminated Perfume
Just as I sat down this morning to write this post, the mail arrived and very serendipitously it delivered to me a sweet smelling package, containing tiny jewelled pots filled with Roxana's perfume. As I took a deep breath, experiencing each one, I was carried away by the gentle aromas inspired by damp earth, pungent conifers and dewy flowers. The scents are light and delicate, impactful but not at all overwhelming, a blend of musky earth tones and light filled florals. They say that scent is the quickest way to access your central nervous system, and times like this I believe it. A conversation that I had with Roxana came to mind about how some can't perceive the subtleties in scents because their sense of smell has been dulled by the barrage of strong, synthetic chemicals we subject our senses to, from our body care products, perfumes, air fresheners, fabric softener, etc. It's a sad shame, and I personally was really struck by how sensitive I became after cutting such things out of my life. Suddenly, beautiful scents in nature (and other fantastic things like the aroma of fresh coffee) jump out at me with a vivacious tenacity, and I find I can no longer be in a room with strong perfumes or other synthetic scents—as a rule I didn't wear perfume or anything scented, until discovering beautiful, completely and truly natural scents from companies like Province Apothecary, or Tales of The Wild (who happen to be featured in Vol. 10!) It was a delight to experience Roxana's work and to talk with her in this short interview. I have a feeling more good things are to come, keep posted for more from Roxana here at PGM.
INTERVIEW BY KATHERINE OAKES
ROXANA, YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROCESS AS BEING SO INTUITIVE, EVEN THOUGH IT IS ROOTED IN KNOWLEDGE AND YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BLEND YOUR UNIQUE SKILLS AND INHERENT PASSIONS TO CREATE YOUR PRODUCTS?
When I sit down to work on a formula I am accessing multiple streams of learned knowledge from studying art, aromatherapy, and herbology balanced with the intuitive, right brain field that makes connections. The other elements that are meticulously woven in are my passion to educate on specific topics, like the value of native plants and honey bees for example with a high aesthetic. The whole process works quite nicely, especially if I let go of the “thinking” mind and allow the creative, right brain to step in. I did a presentation about this process at Bastyr University last Autumn as part of the “Beyond Aromatics” conference put on by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. Here’s a link to the YouTube video my husband and I recreated of the lecture to give some deeper context if interested.
YOU USE ONLY NATURAL INGREDIENTS, AND AVOID SYNTHETIC. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT TYPES OF CHEMICALS COULD BE HARMFUL AND WHY? ALSO, HOW DID YOU COME TO USE THE MATERIALS YOU DO NOW?
I’ve been going beyond the word natural lately because it's been “green washed” by individuals and companies taking advantage of the term. Instead, I’ve been using the word “botanical” to describe more precisely the materials I work with. I’m going to do my best at simplify the answer to this question to make it easy to understand. There are two basic types of chemicals in the fragrance industry, those that are present in essential oils and those that are manufactured in a lab by emulating the plant ones using mainly petroleum based chemicals.
Synthetic molecules were a blessing to the fragrance industry because it made mass market perfumes possible. The downside is that these lab-created chemicals are not harmonious with our bodies or that of the fellow plants and other beings who share this planet with us. The pervasive and invasive nitro musks are one example of synthetic molecules that have become rampant and are causing havoc on our immune system. The most typical response to synthetics is that they cause allergies and ocular migraines.
Essential oils are composed of a combination of chemicals occurring within a plant for several purposes including; allelopathy, defense against animals and insects and as antimicrobial protection. The challenges we face with essential oils are if the essence is not pure, has not been distilled mindfully or used in appropriate dilutions there is the potential for skin sensitivities.
I arrived at the door of aromatherapy through a little bottle of juniperus virginiana while attending a sweat lodge. After one deep inhalation I was hooked and wanted everyone on the planet to experience the miraculous effect of medicine that smelled good. A good motto to use as a reminder is that everything is medicine and everything is poison, it’s all about degrees and mindfulness of usage.
EVEN THE PACKAGING AND CONTAINERS FOR ILLUMINATED PERFUMES HAS AN OLD-WORLD EUROPEAN ESSENCE, WHICH YOU DESCRIBE AS THE MAIN INFLUENCER IN YOUR LIFE AND GROWING UP. DID YOU DO THIS INTENTIONALLY OR WAS IT A PLEASANT SURPRISE?
The packaging has evolved from a deliberate aesthetic choice and one of necessity. Since I am an uber niche brand that has grown slowly with my own funding I have had limited options with purchasing packaging due to large minimum orders. Out of that challenge my packaging evolved into what it is now. For example, when I was looking to make my rectangular flacons stand apart from all the other niche perfumers using the same exact bottle I developed the idea of color coding each fragrance and the using crochet pouches. Later when I launched the solid perfumes we continued this theme into the color coded wax seals for the solids which has now extended into other aspects of the brand.