Q & A with Liz Cook
Our team came up with a few questions for me; too polite, though. I said, "The curlier the better." But they kept it tame :)
Q. What did you do before launching ONE SEED in 2009?
A. I have had a very varied history! After I finished school, I was studying to be a nurse (which all my life I thought I would be), but abandoned that after 18 months. Then I went on to do a Bachelor of Social Science, which I absolutely loved, followed by a Diploma in Community Development, and then in my late 30s I went back to uni to study nutritional medicine.
During my uni days, I worked as a photographer - mostly portraits and school photography, and a few weddings - but it was while I was working as a studio photographer that I decided to follow my passion for business and natural skincare, and I opened my first business (a small store in Adelaide selling natural skincare and DIY ingredients) at 25 in 2001. I opened two more stores in the next 5 years, and then sold the business in 2007. 18 months later I launched ONE SEED.
Q. What does it take to become a perfumer?
A. A good nose and lots of patience! Perfumery is more art than science, so while it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of chemistry and biology, its more important to be open to the creative process and to be able to tune into your instincts.
Q. What would you be doing as a career in a parallel universe?
A. I feel like I would be a gin distiller (obsessed with gin - smelling it, not drinking it). Or in neuroscience.
Q. How does your being a nutritionist inform your development of fragrance?
A. I think it has a strong influence on it, and also on my thinking about business and life generally. I have been actively reading ingredients labels since I was around 16 years old, so that was there a long time before I officially became a nutritionist. I think the strongest influence it has on my work as a perfumer is it allows me to think more critically, and also accept the nuances, flaws and anomalies in nature as something of beauty, not aspects to be airbrushed away.
Q. What does a typical day look like for Liz Cook?
A. Up at 5:30-ish, 15 mins of oil-pulling while I check socials and waste a bit of time, then cup of tea and get emails done. Take kids to school, head to the studio, debrief with the team, work on a project, a little mixology (perfumes, not drinks), home for lunch, coffee with a friend once or twice a week, finish work around 3, potter around home, head to the gym, make dinner, walk the dog, watch Netflix with my kids, a little Gua Sha, then early to bed to read first, and the sleep with lots and lots of pillows. The end.
Q. Has your vision for ONE SEED changed since you started in 2009? And if so, how?
A. The values and ethos are the same, but my vision has changed. I started out wanting to protect the niche, and limit availability to people who really wanted to find natural fragrance, rather than to those who hadn’t yet made the switch. But I realised about 5 years in that was a very narrow-minded view, and wasn’t going to contribute to any sort of change in the industry, or to the consumer mindset around natural products, or, to the world at large. And at heart I want to be a world-changer and a game changer. So I embraced a wider demographic, and changed the messaging so that more people would want to take a step toward natural. I also decided a few years ago to take a stronger stand around the education side of what we do; I see our role as educators in the industry as really critical. It means we have to take more risks, but I feel really good about doing that. Transparency is everything, and we all deserve to understand how what we put on our skin and in our bodies affects our well-being and environment. We all have the right to make an informed choice in every aspects of our lives.
Q. We know you are an avid reader, so if there were only three books you would recommend what would they be and why?
Oh, gosh, that’s almost impossible! I’ll tell you the three most game-changing books I’ve read so far, but I really would like to recommend a list of ten!
Originals - Adam Grant
I read this one around 4 years ago, and I honestly think it shifted my thinking virtually overnight. It made me proud to step outside of the crowd and think unapologetically for myself. Celebrating non-comformists.
The Brain that Changes Itself - Norman Doidge, MD.
Mind-blowing stories of the power of neuroplasticity of the human brain, and the remarkable changes in people whose mental limitations or brain injuries were previously seen as unalterable. Opens me up to the unimaginable possibilities of the human body to heal itself.
Own Yourself - Kelly Brogan, MD
Her first book was just as good (A Mind of Your Own), but I’ve put this one in there instead because it goes beyond what most people talk about as strategies for recovering from depression and anxiety. Brogan reframes how we think of mental illness and those of us who suffer from it. Liberating, mindset-shifting and downright powerful.