I've shunned perfume for so many years. Mainstream synthetic options usually gave me a headache, made me sneeze, or smelled like a chemical factory. Natural options were so sparse, and often so "crunchy," that I couldn't find anything that expressed me. Happily, the natural options are growing, and we're thrilled to introduce beautifully floral Petal & Leaf, a line of 7 scents by Colorado-based Lara Claassen. Keep reading to learn more about Lara and Petal & Leaf. --Becky
You have worked in the fragrance industry for some time, so what inspired you to take this back to basics, all natural approach? For years I have literally been surrounded by fragrances. My desk, my drawers and boxes are always filled with small drams of client submissions, and small jars of wax filled candle trials for projects I'm working on. Over the years I have worked on only a handful of all natural projects but found that those were the projects that I absolutely loved! I began researching natural materials and fell more in love with them when I learned of the rich history of use. They were also more in keeping with my lifestyle of eating organically and using all natural beauty products. I couldn't find a line of authentically natural perfumes that I thought were well constructed and affordable, so I decided with the long standing connections I have in the world of perfumery, that I should create my own!
What is your favorite ingredient to work with and why? I love vanilla and had a hard time not putting it into every fragrance in the line! Only my Orange Blossom & Jasmine is with out it! The other material I love is Ambrette Seeds. They are the seeds of an Indian Hibiscus and are the natural perfumer's musk. They lengthen the perfumes and create a lovely musky warmth.
Why do you think that perfume is so special? How can it fit into one's self care routine? For me natural perfumes are so perfect because there is such an intimacy to using them. I gave one of my perfumes to a woman who works in a local store where I live, on a quiet snowy day and she wrote me the next day to tell me that hardly anyone had come into the store, but she felt like the fragrance I gave her had kept her company. I loved that, because I find the same thing to be true with naturals. There is an energetic quality to them that feels supportive and nurturing. I often find I turn to them, pull them out of my purse when I'm sitting on a crowded airplane, or in a doctor's office and they never fail to ground and comfort me.
What makes Petal & Leaf stand out from other natural perfume lines on the market? It seems like a new line is popping up every day! What I feel separates Petal & Leaf perfumes is the quality of the product. Every single material used is analyzed by a gas chromatography machine to ensure its absolute purity and quality. The line only uses whole plant based materials. There is a trend in natural perfumery to use what are called isolates, which are less expensive and create a larger palette for perfumers to work with. Also, many natural perfumers use flavors, but for now, I chose to just work with the timeless whole plant ingredients that have been used for centuries for spiritual, folkloric and medicinal uses. I wish more people understood the time and care that is behind some of these gorgeous materials.
For example, the Tuscan Orris root we use takes almost three years to grow into maturity and then requires another two or three years of drying in the sun so that it gradually develops it's characteristic violet smell. There is a rich history to all these materials and I think when you learn the stories behind them you enjoy the beauty of the material even more.
What does the future look like for Petal & Leaf? Or, is there anything else you'd like to share? My goal is to continue to try and provide a thoughtfully blended line of perfumes that celebrate the beauty of naturals. I am a perfectionist by nature, and hope in the next year to slowly finesse the line to the point where I feel like every fragrance in the line could not be more beautifully constructed -- that the balance of materials is perfect and the line is offering a little something for all tastes, from spicy to fresh citrus to floral.