International Womens Day: an interview with ONE SEED founder, Liz Cook
‘Perfumer’ is such an uncommon job; is it as glamorous as people think?
That’s a good question – most people think I spend my days wearing a kaftan and wafting through beautiful scents. The reality is when you’re a business owner and perfumer, you spend more time on the running of the business, and less time being creative. So much of my time is spent talking to clients, meeting with my marketing team, answering emails and running seminars and workshops. The perfumery side of it is probably less glamour, though, and more hard work (both sweat and tears!), although it is so fun! Perfumery is part art and part science and math, so I get to use both my left and right brain which I enjoy. It can become disheartening when I just can’t crack the formula, but, boy when I do, then I do feel amazing! At that point I usually take an olfactory rest for a few weeks so I don’t spoil the mojo!
You’re in your tenth year at ONE SEED now – what is it about your business that has given it longevity so far?
I am a long-term thinker. I never go into something thinking I’ll just give it a crack and see what happens. I was in it for the long haul from the start. In the first few years it was difficult as natural perfume was virtually unheard of, and the eco beauty and eco luxe movements had not yet begun. There were a number of years I didn’t take a paycheque. Fast-forward a decade and the world is ready for natural perfume.We have started to become more aware of everything we use, from food to cleaning products and makeup, and perfume is probably the last one on the list. It’s a really exciting time for us and for the natural perfume industry.
I think we have longevity because there is a bigger picture here – it's not just about creating beautiful products, but it’s also about giving people joy, and educating them about becoming conscious consumers and promoting wellbeing. That’s a passion for me, not a job.
What is the project you are most proud of?
There art plenty of projects I’ve loved working on but the one that stands out the strongest is when I was called in to create a custom fragrance for a couple whose newborn baby was passing away. Their friends wanted to give them the scent of the baby in a bottle. I got to visit and smell the baby in hospital. It was a big challenge, but so beautiful and such a privilege.
What do you do with projects that don’t work out?
Don’t tell anyone, but not all of my work is beautiful! Sometimes when I am working on a fragrance, I can have concept in my head that I think will be extraordinary, but it turns out in real life it’s a bit ‘blah’. Those ones get used as air freshener in my home! In the old days, I used to get too excited and make pretty decent sized bottles of everything I was trialling, so too much went to waste. Nowadays, everything is made in tiny 1-2ml vials at the trail stage. With age comes wisdom!
You’re also a nutritionist - why are you so passionate about natural products and wellbeing? And how does your role as a nutritionist impact on ONE SEED?
I love being a nutritionist – what a privilege to have someone share with you their innermost secrets about their body and mind, and ask you to help them get better. I love seeing people turn their health and wellbeing around.
I’ve been passionate about health and beauty since my mid- teens (I was making almond milk from a 1970s wellbeing book at 16 years old when it was uncool!). My brothers were bodybuilders so I think that was what set me off. Plus I had some health challenges as a child, so I was looking for answers.
I have a very strong belief that nature holds the answers, and that we were born to function well living close to nature, with as little chemical intervention an influence as possible. When it comes to fragrance, synthetics are just so toxic for your mind and body (linked to many diseases and illnesses such as migraines, depression, obesity, cancer, hormonal disorders), and they have a detrimental impact on the environment. When nature makes so many beautiful scents, why do we need to risk our health with synthetics?
Being trained in nutritional medicine means I create products with the health and wellbeing of whole body in mind. And it also means I understand and can teach people how synthetic scent affects us biochemically.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman to me means being strong and courageous, but having a big, compassionate heart. I teach my kids that anything is possible, male or female. I love seeing all people thrive and be authentically who they were born to be. I just wish women in all countries were as liberated as we are in the West. I feel saddened by the plight of women in countries who have no voice, or are expected to stay within strict limitations. I know there is still some way to go even in Australia, but we have so much freedom compared to many parts of the world.
What is your greatest regret in life?
I don’t spend a lot of time looking back and wishing I'd done things differently because I know that making mistakes, even big ones, is par for the course. But if I could go back and do one thing differently it would be to find a way to spend more time with my first child (my son who is now 16) when he was a baby and toddler. I had to go back top work too quickly and I also suffered from post-natal depression, so the from 6 months to 2 years is a bit of a blur for me. If I could do it again, I would spend more time doing mum things with him, and get help for myself sooner.
What mantra do you live by?
Everything is possible. I am a positive thinker and I don’t take no as an answer. There is always a way.
We hear you don’t have any tattoos, but if you were going to get one, were and what would it be?
Yeah, I’m highly unlikely to ever get a tattoo, but I once wrote one of my favourite quotes down the side of my left hand and it actually looked pretty good, so that would probably be what I would do. But I won't :)