Excerpt of my interview with Mandy Aftel, originally published on Greenopia.com
Perfumer Mandy Aftel’s love of natural essences drives her business. While most commercial perfumes are made using synthetic scents, her Berkeley-based Aftelier Perfumes is focused on making artisan natural perfumes. She’s also written books on the subject, including Essence & Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume and Aroma: Cooking with Essential Oils (co-authored with Coi chef Daniel Patterson).
Best part of your job?
I love smelling new natural materials and creating with them. I love all the different ways they smell—it’s amazing. For instance, I love the difference between Moroccan, Indian, and Egyptian roses. So, I would say the best part is creating and using those materials.
Is there a particular environmental non-profit you support?
Alice Water’s Edible School Yard.
What’s your favorite vacation destination?
I love to go to cities with great art and where great literature has been written, like London and Paris.
What’s your favorite weekend outdoor activity?
Gardening. I have a wonderful garden. I grow the stuff I don’t have the essences for. I love lilies and I grow a lot of roses.
If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
I’d be a fir tree because I like the way it smells. It’s kinda jammy, like strawberry jam in the forest.
Describe your path to green. How and when you became eco-conscious.
I would have to say my passion for natural essences is behind it. You cannot help but be in awe of nature when it makes such incredible smells. Barks of trees and flowers—this rainbow of smells is so extraordinary. It’s hard to not be in awe of nature and to want to preserve it.