I am a fashion editor-turned-perfumer, with a sustainable and vegan line of scents called Apotheke. I created the brand when I lived in Berlin — I use the highest grade of natural oils from Grasse, and it's all hand-poured in Berlin as well. I have tarot cards and crystals in the branding, because I want to make aromatherapy more accessible and fun. I am obsessed with the effect of scent on our mood. I’m the one in a work meeting passing 'round rosemary oil to wake everyone up!
I am not an expert and always want to learn. I always seek out ethically sourced palo santo and make sure things are as reusable as possible... like oil and reed diffusers in vintage vases, able to be topped up or repurposed. Growing sage and rosemary and mint on your balcony won’t hurt anyone, and you have things to smell and pop in tea instantly. Nature smells so amazing we just need to tap into it — a walk in a forest, or inhaling a bunch of lilacs in the park. With perfume, it's easy to find great local brands and handmade perfumes, which haven't travelled from China and are made in small batches to avoid waste. Like Apotheke!
To connect to our sense of smell is to connect to our deepest selves. I teach people how to harness the power of olfactory memory. We have all sniffed our ex's perfume in duty-free and had an instant recall of a time and place and, most importantly, a feeling. We can train this by using notes that maximise certain emotions at the same moment every day. We can build a scent recall that helps us to reach a certain goal. I help people learn how to engage their sense of smell to change their mood, just like we do with our other four senses. Not just with fancy perfumes, but by introducing humble scent practices to our day. I want everyone to have bunches of sage in their kitchens that they make fresh tea with, or be adding drops of frankincense or lavender oil to their night time ritual to relax, and lighting palo santo to switch from day to night — especially when some of us are working from home.
I think our day should be punctuated with mini-scent rituals. Start the day with a few drops of rosemary oil in a sink of hot water while you brush your teeth and do your skincare routine. It actively boosts cognitive brain function and wakes you up. Or put one drop of rose into your moisturiser, it's great for any skin type, and the smell will start to connect in your mind with time for yourself. Don't just grab any soap for the shower, choose with your nose! I love the French Le Petit Marseillais soaps you can pick up in bio stores, like honeysuckle. They are super affordable and add something beautiful to what is otherwise a mundane routine. Sage oil is a godsend for symptoms of PMS. It's an incredible hormone balancer. Frankincense is good for warding off illness, one we could all do with right now! I've been spritzing my mask with it, but maybe that's extreme... Geranium is good for mid-winter blues (that always hit Berliners around January!) — just dose your bath with a few drops. Any scent can help you relax, if you just use it every day when you are the calmest. Take a deep breath and focus on feeling good. After a few weeks of this, you will build a scent-triggered memory recall with that smell.
Yes! I know it's obvious, but lighting scented candles or incense at the end of the day, to signal 'work is over', is such a beautiful ritual. Taking the time to light them, then walking back in the room as the scent drifts across space. When I buy candles, I love niche brands as the oil content is usually higher, and the design more interesting. If they are glass, it's worth keeping them, so you can refill them after with oils and reeds and keep on using it. If you are going to blow the budget, IIUVO from London make the best candles. The Bose one is so chic and has a big, glammy jasmine note — it smells like a posh hotel, what could feel more luxurious than that? If you are on a budget, I love paper incense. You tear off a little strip of paper, fold it, and burn it. It smells wonderful! I stock up on paper incense at Ryoko, a beautiful Japanese perfumer in Berlin. The rose one is heavenly, and only 5€ for a book! Great for travelling, you can take your incense with you anywhere. There are so many other chic brands doing this, too — like Ponsont.
I have four perfumes, each suited to a different personality type. (You can find out which one is best for you by taking the quiz on my website!) Each perfume has a purpose, an aromatherapeutic effect: The Traveller is meditative, The Thinker is inspiring, The Dreamer is euphoric, and The Lover is an aphrodisiac. For The Traveller, we constructed a note that smells like suntan lotion on hot skin and also used tons of natural palo santo, patchouli — the OG bohemian perfume of choice — and sandalwood. It's a vacation in a bottle. When designing The Thinker perfume, we wanted something to help you focus. It is the ultimate WFH focus spray with fresh cucumber, green tea, zippy citrus, Virginian cedarwood and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils — the most back-to-school smell of them all. The Dreamer is a clean powdery ode to a flower garden. It feels hopeful and romantic. It's like putting on heels for brunch with your best girlfriend just because it's Saturday and you want to feel a bit glam. The Lover is packed with pheromones, and actually makes some people blush. It’s musky and a juicy sweetness from the cassis that makes you want to bite anyone wearing it. It’s not for the faint of heart.
There are so many smells that make me happy: petrichor (the smell after it rains), tangerines, a cucumber at the bottom of a gin and tonic, a baby's head! Escaping into any powerful smell, just for a moment, focusing only on that, makes me feel instantly better. I am also like a foodie is with restaurants, I love them all and obsess over the latest thing I find. Right now I'm wearing a trashy synthetic musk I bought from a market stall on vacation in a gold bottle, hanging from a chain round my neck. I am obsessed with ironing with a grapefruit oil spritz I made just for that purpose, and burning beeswax candles, and drinking earl grey heavy with bergamot. Scent can be so highbrow and so low-fi at the same time, that's why I love it. I’m all about the bougie jasmine candles, and the lavender nicked from my neighbour's garden.
A full moon is a perfect time to connect to our dreams and goals. I follow @jade.likethestone on Instagram, she leads guided lunar rituals and shares information on how to harness the power of each part of the moon cycle, something I recommend if you want to learn more. I have just relocated to the English countryside from Berlin, and have a giant window that looks onto a dark valley, and when there is a full moon the room feels like it’s lit with floodlights on a film set — it's such an intense experience after living in cities most of my life. To experience the actual power of the moon is such a basic human pleasure, we all need to engage with it. I'll meditate with palo santo, with the full moon, a dark room, no technology or music, nothing that can distract from my sense of smell that needs to concentrate on the palo santo, and set some intentions for the year ahead. Halloween is also my birthday so it's going to be an epic night!