I believe in destiny and taking giant leaps of faith. This is what led me to study perfumery in France last year. It is something I had dreamed of and talked about for many years, but the urge became undeniably strong early in 2018, and before I knew it I was registered at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery and on a flight to Marseilles.
I arrived in Provence on June 22 at the height of the lavender, immortelle, sunflower, wild broom and clary sage bloom. The countryside was flush with purples and yellows as far as the eye could see. Forcalquier, the medieval town that I studied in, felt like it was right out of a fairy tale, complete with a labyrinth of narrow stone streets lined with shops providing refuge from the hot sun. I followed winding stairs throughout the town that led up to a chapel with a breathtaking view and enjoyed the sound of church bells being played by a musician.
Couvent des Cordeliers, a 12th century convent, became a perfumery campus in 2002. The school’s entrance is adorned with climbing roses and jasmine, and the ancient stone building sits on a property with an ethnobotanical garden of herbs and a copper still on wheels, once pulled by horses from farm to farm to distill essential oils.
The course taught me how to take my knowledge of blending essential oils into a new realm, one that introduced me to different materials and divergent goals. As an aromatherapist, my purpose is to blend oils with therapeutic properties in mind. In creating perfume, I was layering botanical extracts to create a dynamic scent designed to smell as beautiful as possible, for as long as possible. I want to take people on a journey through the notes and create a visceral experience. To do that, I also need to build longevity, something that aromatherapy does not offer as essential oils quickly dissipate.
This past year I have studied every perfumery book I could get my hands on, and built our perfume organ, which is the shelves that display jars that house the individual notes that we use to compose a perfume. As I write this post, the organ contains 87 notes, my favourites including fir absolute for its surprisingly gourmand sweetness, and labdanum for invoking a sense of mystery. The organ has grown exponentially since my return from Grasse, with no end in sight. I have a feeling Lane will be building additional shelves for the organ indefinitely.
The name Priestess was chosen for so many reasons. Priestess is a strong word that encompasses female power. It harkens back to the days when women were respected spiritual leaders. It is also a card in the tarot that represents intuition, sacred knowledge, divine feminine, and the subconscious mind.
Our debut perfume is inspired by spring, and naming it Persephone, after the Greek goddess of this beautiful season, was an overwhelmingly natural fit. The fact that some consider Persephone to be the woman on the high priestess card, (the pomegranates are a dead giveaway), is just one of many paths that led me again and again to the name. All Priestess Perfumes are made with 100% botanical ingredients: rather than manufactured synthetics, all of our ingredients are sourced raw from farms or forests. We don't add any synthetics or isolates. Persephone’s heart notes are jasmine sambac (jasmine), viola odorata (violet) leaf, rosa damascene (rose), and canaga odorata (ylang ylang). We are taking you back to a time in perfume history when the essences of freshly harvested blossoms were extracted by hand, before synthetics began creeping in and eventually took over in the 1900s.
This is a renaissance.
Perfumers will tell you that commercial perfumes are some of the worst scents to behold because the mass market has bad taste. These popular synthetic notes are behind many people's aversion. Do you get a headache from synthetic perfume? You aren’t alone, and that’s one of the main reasons why we launched Priestess Perfumes. We know how much people love the experience of wearing perfume, and we’ve been working diligently to reduce the barriers between you and your signature scent. You may be surprised at how different a botanical perfume smells; an intoxicating scent that envelops but doesn’t overwhelm. Priestess Perfumes is one of the only perfume composers to list each ingredient in the bottle rather than the industry standard 'parfum (fragrance)'. We believe in full transparency and we are proud to show you exactly what is in the bottle.
Learn more about PERSEPHONE