The Challenges of Being a Natural Perfume Company
When we launched ONE SEED back in 2009, the field was pretty much empty. Aside from the occasional natural perfume oil here and there, there were really no players in natural perfume in Australia. Even overseas, there were very few companies offering natural perfumes, and Mandy Aftel (Aftelier Perfumes) was definitely the queen of natural fragrance.
Fast forward seven years (we have just had our 7th anniversary!) and a lot has changed. Beautiful natural perfumes are being produced by several indie perfume houses in Australia, and over a dozen of them in the United States and Europe. It's a great time to be a lover of natural scent!
And a great time to be a natural perfumer! The scope of ingredients for a natural perfumer has grown rapidly over the past decade, and we are able to use ingredients now that we simply not available back then. No longer are we limited to the more commonly known essential oils, such as citruses, rose, jasmine, patchouli, but now we can even use real coconut extract, frangipani and even natural isolates (elements that are isolated from essential oils to produce a more linear-smelling, longer-lasting effect in fragrance).
We absolutely love what we do and what ONE SEED stands for. It's a privilege to be able to create beautiful fragrances from nothing but natural and organic plant extracts, and to release products that people adore and want to buy over and over again.
But being a natural perfume company also has its challenges.
The world has been trained to understand perfume in a certain way, and natural and organic scents are often compared to synthetic ones. It's an unfair comparison and a strange phenomenon really, considering perfumery has its roots firmly in the use of natural ingredients, where, for thousands of years, all we had available to us was what we could collect from nature.
Comparing natural perfume to mass-produced synthetic scent is like comparing a bag of honey-soy chicken chips (delicious) to a bowl of freshly-roasted organic potatoes (also delicious but in a completely different way). How can you compare them, really? They are two different products with an almost-common starting point.
Natural perfume should be assessed on its own merits, based on its aroma, its complexity, how it speak to you personally, how it makes you feel, and even how you connect to the product, brand, ingredients and ethos of the company.
A Brief History of Natural Vs Synthetic Scent
The discovery of synthetic vanilla (vanillin) in the later part of the 19th century open the floodgate for synthetic ingredients to be used in perfumes. At this time, both natural and synthetic ingredients were starting to be combined in fragrance (what is now termed mixed media). Jicky, launched by Guerlain in 1889, was the first mixed media fragrance available to the masses. And once Chanel launched No 5 in 1921, there was no going back, and natural perfumes were all but forgotten.
It seemed the world had lost its nose for nature, and we were lured into scent directions that had never existed before; like the smell of water (apparently!) and other fragrance notes made entirely in laboratories. It was a brave new world, but one that the modern consumer has been slowly backing away from.
The Trouble with Finding Natural Perfume Brands
So if consumers now really want natural perfume brands, why are they so hard to find? The major Australian retailers have still not adapted to the fact that Australian consumers are changing, and want perfumes and products that are not mass-produced, that have a story, and that use natural ingredients and sustainable, ethical practices. Thankfully, in Australia both David Jones and Myer are showcasing plenty of natural skincare brands, but when it comes to natural fragrance, you just won't find them there.
Forward-thinking major retailers, like Anthropologie, Sephora and Free People, have seen the trend and have thrown open their doors for natural and organic products from all over the world, which has meant that being a natural skincare or perfume company can now be an economically-viable venture, as well as a fulfilling one! And amazing boutique retailers over the world have been quick to meet consumer demands for natural, organic and ethical products from the start of the movement.
So if you are a lover of natural and organic perfume, and of ethical producers that put their heart and soul into their work, make sure you find them and continue to support them.
Tell your friends about us, ask you favourite store to stock us, and give us feedback too. It's time the world got to know the real beauty of natural perfume.