I’ve always wished I were a perfume person. I like the idea of having a “scent”-- some smell that people associate with you; kind of a part of your identity. Scent has always played a very strong role in evoking vivid memories for me. Often times, smelling something familiar will bring back many more details about a place, person, or situation than even looking at a photo might.
The problem is, I can’t stand most perfume. The chemicals burn my nose and throat, most of them smell “fake” to me. And it seems that all the worst of people’s perfumes and colognes are often invading my personal space.
Several years ago I happened upon book at the library about natural perfumery. The author wrote a lot about the relationship we have had with scent throughout time. I was fascinated by the natural ingredients described and how deep our history with scent goes. I began reading more books on perfumery, natural perfume materials, and aromatherapy. I decided to gather a basic few essential oils and mess around with creating some unique combinations. I loved getting to know the qualities of each essential oil and imagining how two or more of them would compliment and interact with each other. I began to expand my collection of essential oils and other natural perfumery materials, and with that, my range of experimentation.
I love the fact that I’m working with materials that come from the natural world. I’ve always been drawn to smells that exist in the wilderness. Trees, dirt, rain, flowers. Crushing leaves and pine needles between my fingers to get at their fragrance.
It’s so fun and challenging to try to recreate a specific scent from one of my childhood memories, evoke a certain place, or formulate the smell of something in nature that may not be available among the raw materials used in natural perfumery.
I want to create a unique experience for those who wear and smell my fragrances, using all-natural and beneficial ingredients. I want it to be a personal experience -- shared only with those who are close, not everyone within a 15 foot radius.
The personal and intimate nature of natural fragrances is part of what makes them so special. The scent will not fill a room. These fragrances remain close to the body for the enjoyment of the wearer, and those who are near to them. These scents will last anywhere from 3 to 8 hours, depending on the ingredients used to create each scent.. Think of re-application as a personal ritual -- taking a moment out of your day to make yourself feel (and smell) good.
Find Botica products in Portland, OR at all Tender Loving Empire locations, Cactus on SE Stark St. & Banshee on East Burnside, Crafty Wonderland on NE Alberta and downtown locations, and the Animal.Plant.Mineral pop-up for the month of February 2019.
And if you want to know a little more about my herbalism practice, read read on! Below is an interview done by the amazing shop Banshee in Portland, for their blog...
Reyna is the herbalist behind @botica_botanica. Her use of hand selected, natural ingredients gives the small batch products a personal touch. In creating scents, balms and tinctures her goal is to not only evoke a mood but also provide nourishing ingredients that are beneficial. Come to the shop 10/26 from 5-8 to meet her & read interview below to find out more about her and what she does! 🌱
BANSHEE: Hey Reyna, please tell us a bit about your background and what led you to herbalism?
Oh, such a big question! I'll try to answer more-or-less in a nutshell: Studying and working closely with medicinal and fragrant plants feels like something I have come back to from my childhood, after having explored several other paths and possibilities. To me, plants have always held a magical quality. As a child, I would dance around the backyard, chewing weedy wild mustard and wood sorrel, finding pure delight in the fact that I could forage my own food back there, in this seemingly wild place. When in the woods, my dad would show me wild berries we could harvest and eat. And for as long as I can remember, I have picked and plucked bits of plants, on walks through neighborhoods and wild places, crushing and sniffing them in order to experience and learn their unique smells. There was something mysterious and exciting about plants (especially in the wild), yet learning the plants and their gifts also felt comforting and vaguely familiar to me.
My family is full of plant-people, especially on my mother's side. Her grandfather and her mother were both very avid gardeners of food and flowers, they also happened to have the last name of Gardiner, so perhaps this passion goes deep into the family history. My mother also has an affinity for plants; edible and ornamental. My sister studied horticulture in college and works with plants for a living.
Around seven years ago, I read a book by natural perfumer Mandy Aftel, called Essence and Alchemy, all about the long-history of and materials traditionally used in natural perfume making. The subject of the book and the natural materials discussed were so fascinating to me that I decided to purchase a few essential oils and experiment with blending some simple perfumes. I quickly became obsessed with this hobby and began growing my collection of natural fragrance materials, learning more about the benefits and effects of different essentials oils and other botanical materials, making fragrances for friends, and eventually deciding to try selling some of my fragrances.
A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the plants I had been working with, and learn more about incorporating whole plant materials into my process and products. I suppose I felt a calling, as I realized how I could deepen my relationship with the plants, and expand my work to incorporate more holistic and healing elements. I began researching herb schools, and decided upon Elderberry School in Portland. Attending herb school was a deeply enriching and transformative experience for me. I also began to realize that learning about plant medicine is a lifelong journey, with infinite information to learn from people, plants and personal experience. So, I continue to explore and study, and will do so, happily, for the rest of my life.
BANSHEE: Amazing! Tell us a favorite thing about herbalism...
Reyna: One of the many things that I love about herbalism, is getting to know the plants on a spiritual level. Sitting with them in meditation, singing to them, listening to and learning from them. Discovering psycho-spiritual uses of the plants in addition to their chemical constituents and physical benefits. Building a dynamic understanding and personal relationship with each of the plants I work with. It is honestly one of the things that I least expected when I began working with plants, but it has been one of the most fulfilling parts of this practice.
Product Highlight: Tell us a lil about your Dream Spray?
Reyna: The Dream Spray is a new addition to my series of Dream products, including the Dream Bath Salts and the Dream Tincture. The Dream Spray includes tinctures and essential oils that traditionally promote sleep and dream enhancement. Some of the main players are mugwort, which is used in many forms as a visionary and dreaming herb, Pacific dogwood, with flowers that have been called "the eyes of the forest", is thought to activate one's ability to see visions, and lavender, which helps to relax the body and mind.
BANSHEE: You have foraged ingredients in the PNW and distilled them for use in your products - can you give some details about what you forage, the process and what types of potions you are using the ingredients for?
Many of my products include foraged ingredients or ingredients that I have grown in my backyard. The Forest Balm is infused with Western Red Cedar and Doug Fir collected from local forests. My Rose Salve contains rosemary from my yard, rose hips and rose petals that are often either wild-crafted or harvested from my back yard. The Love & Protection Tincture is made with a blend of plants that were all either foraged or grown by me, as well as most of the ingredients in my Dream Tincture.
And... One of those thing that has to be mentioned when he topic of wild-crafting comes up:
Going out into nature to connect with the plants in their natural habitat, take in the energy of the wild and mindfully harvest small amounts of plant medicine is a beautiful and important experience, but in the interest of sustainability, and plant preservation, I am a proponent of growing as many things as you can for your plant medicine making, or finding people locally who are growing what you need. Over-harvesting in the wild is a big problem, especially as herbalism becomes more and more popular. Please do your research before heading out into the woods to harvest medicine. Wild-crafting should be about respect, permission, and building relationships with the plants and the natural world. Sit with the plant you are planning to harvest and ask if it is okay. Then listen. If you get a "No", then pay attention to it. It may not be the right time to harvest. Obviously, proper plant identification is vital, as well. Check this site for a list of at-risk plants, and more important information on this subject: https://www.unitedplantsavers.org
We do not want to see these plants disappear completely, and we all have to do our part to protect these beings!
BANSHEE: We wholeheartedly agree with you with respect to environment! Thanks so much for sharing your story and wisdom with us.