“Coming back to yourself” is the manifesto of Los Angeles perfumer Emily L’Ami. Raised in New Zealand, she studied and practiced aromatherapy for years before going to perfume school, curious about bridging the divide between the mindful, subtle concepts of aromatherapy with the craft of perfumery. It resulted in her line, Bodha, rooted in sensory rituals and conceptual, hand blended oil blends that feel like the work of an artist.
Inspired by Emily’s work and practice, this season we collaborated with Bodha on a limited edition fragrance, exclusive to Apiece Apart: WOMAN. An all natural, oil based blend of Buddha wood, rose, and smoke, it’s very earthy, a tiny bit floral, and quite subtle. A perfume for women who don’t wear perfume, if you will. Inspired by the ritual acts that ground us, and in the freedom that comes from defining our own wellbeing.
Join us this Wednesday, 11/5 as we celebrate both the launch of WOMAN and begin a new in-store series of conversations with inspiring, interdisciplinary women: Women Wise: The Coming to Our Senses series. Emily will be joined in conversation with the celebrated, smart, and inspiring designer Olivia Sammons for a talk on the art of ritual.
6pm, with conversation from 6:30-7
403 Broome St.
Wine and Leaves + Flowers tea to be served. See more here.
Photos by Gemma Ingalls. Styling by Anna Su. Interview by Leigh Patterson.
I grew up in New Zealand and when I think of home it’s a feeling of wildness and isolation that comes from living on this little island at the bottom of the world. My childhood was simple and fairly "hippie." Mum and dad were into yoga, meditation, and macrobiotics. We spent lots of time at the ocean. Our holidays were always beach camping. For as long as I can remember I had a deep desire to find ‘my thing.' But it took me a long time and lots of trial and error to get there. So much of figuring out what I really wanted to do was actually just allowing myself to follow what felt good until everything finally clicked.
I’ve always been fascinated by scent...it’s this mysterious invisible force with the ability to instantly transport you. My parents were into all the hippie wellness stuff so I grew up using incense and essential oils. I studied and practiced aromatherapy in my twenties but it wasn’t until I went to perfume school 10 years later that everything came together. Aromatherapy and perfumery are worlds that traditionally never interact but I immediately saw a natural overlap and undiscovered space to explore. With Bodha we’re bringing together the artistry of perfumery with the science of aromatherapy to create scents that work on you physically and emotionally. We want to help you come back to yourself through beautiful scented rituals.
When I’m building a scent I always start from the concept – ‘what’s this perfume about & how do I want it to make people feel?’ Once I’m clear on this I’ll identify the ingredients that best address the concept from a therapeutic perspective and then map out how I can build a perfume around them. The beginning of the process is really technical and scientific ... I research the history of the ingredients, how they’ll work together therapeutically, and whether they’ll form a balanced coherent structure of top, middle, and base notes that smell amazing. Finally I collect the ingredients from my natural perfume organ and begin blending. Starting with the base notes I add one ingredient at a time stopping, smelling, and keeping meticulous notes in case the next ingredient mucks everything up and I have to start again. It’s slow, quiet work.
Smell is our strongest sense because it’s the only one with a direct connection to the amygdala, the most primal part of our brain. This means scents are incredibly powerful because they immediately tap into our subconscious and affect our emotions.
I think scented rituals are the most simple, beautiful way to bring a sense of ceremony and reverence to your day. They’re little touchstones that help you stop for a moment and come back to yourself. Adding the element of scent to a ritual brings it to life, enhances the feeling you’re trying to create, and imprints it on your subconscious. The more you practice a scented ritual the more powerful it becomes.
I’ve always been drawn to vetiver. It’s a dark earthy scent, steam distilled from the roots of the aromatic vetiver grass — in the Bhagavad Gita it’s referred to as ‘the fragrance of the soil.’ It has amazing grounding qualities that help instill a quiet confidence, which is exactly what I crave. I always find people are drawn to the scents they inherently need.
This year we went to Italy for my 40th. It was such a special trip and I wanted to find a way to imprint each moment in my memory, so I made myself a perfume and wore it every day we were away. The connection between smell and memory is so strong that for the rest of my life I can instantly transport myself to that trip with just one sniff. My husband regularly says, ‘can you wear Italy today?’
Rose and black pepper – I’ve worn pure rose oil every day for years, but as we head into the cooler months I’m adding a touch of black pepper. It gives a bit of mystery and warmth to the sensuous rose.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live” — what is the current story you are telling about yourself (or to yourself)?
I feel like I’m gently telling myself that following what feels good is the best thing I can do for myself and others. For so long I used to believe (without even realizing it) that I couldn’t expect to love what I did and that it was a little indulgent to even follow those feelings. In lots of ways that story protected me from facing the task of figuring out what I really wanted and how to achieve it. But when my dad died I stood back and decided to start following what felt good no matter how big or small. And slowly but surely, day-by-day, I started to feel happier and my confidence in this new story grew.
The first thing I do when I wake up is mist with our Calm Ritual Spray. It hydrates my face and instantly tells my subconscious it’s time for our morning ritual. Then I get up, light a stick of incense, have a glass of warm water with apple cider vinegar, grind some fresh Canyon Coffee, and make a pour-over with homemade almond milk. I get back into bed with my coffee, write down three things I’m grateful for and finally meditate. It sounds like a lot but it takes around half an hour and it really makes me feel grounded and calm going into the day.
On holiday in Scandinavia I randomly entered us in the Green Card Lottery online. It took five minutes and I thought nothing more of it. A year later we got a letter saying we had won! We’d just that week moved from New Zealand to Sydney and my dad had been diagnosed with terminal cancer so the timing felt really wrong. But we went through the process anyway and by the time the visas came through my dad had died, our cat had died, and it just felt like the universe was saying ‘give it a go.’ The thought of starting again in America was totally overwhelming but we did it and it’s been the hardest and best decision we’ve ever made.
In what ways are you the woman you always thought you’d become? In what ways has your idea of that woman changed over time?
I think deep down I always knew what I wanted to become it just took me a long time to let myself. I didn’t see either of my parents experience joy or success in their work so for years I did what I thought was right and safe. Creating a business out of making beautiful things that help people has taken a long time and over the years my idea of success has become much more personal and present. For me doing something I love surrounded by people I love is everything.
‘The universe expands with your enjoyment.’