"With joy in her heart, she turned away from the busy Parisian streets, and ducked behind the Hotel du Grand Veneur, pressing her hand against the cool wrought iron gate. As the heavy gate slowly swung away on its old hinges, her senses drifted ahead of her, born on the wafting breeze that beckoned her forward. Inside the secret garden, roses in multitudes clung to their trellises, ascending into the blue sky above. Jasmine flowers sang out, enraptured, exalting desire. A warmth rose within her, too, as she paused, transfixed. And then she saw him, the one with eyes for her alone, her love." - Morgan Tompkins
Collaborating with creatives is by far my absolute favorite part of running By Elly Jane on a day to day basis. And what makes that passion even sweeter is when I get to do it with some of my very best friends. Many of you may not know this but Mountains to Sea, an all natural skincare line based in Asheville, North Carolina, came into my life when my best friend, Morgan Tompkins, began working there after her move to Asheville last year. Honestly, this amazing company was the catalyst for the opening of my shop and the beginning of my pursuit with so many other amazing creatives. It has been a joy to collaborate with Mountains To Sea because they're so easy to work with, so open to new ideas and so supportive of any opportunity to learn and grow.
And as they've grown, the best part has been to not only support them as an incredible company but to collaborate with Morgan and now, to feature her as she begins the journey with launching her brand new perfume. Her and I recently sat down to chat about how far she has come in the pursuit of her dreams, the vision behind the perfume and what's so special about it.
1) How did you end up in this career? Did you always want to make perfume? and if so, what kind of perfumer did you envision yourself as?
I ended up in this career with a bit of happenstance, a wonderful boss and friend who gave me the opportunity to pursue my dreams, a whole lot of perseverance and hard work even when I didn't think I was on a path leading me to where I wanted to go. I currently work as the Quality Manager at the US Botanical Safety Laboratory, which is connected with the NC Arboretum. Amanda, the director of the lab, is also co-owner of Mountains to Sea Skincare. The Arboretum has recently added a new exhibit: Making Scents the art and passion of fragrance, and they had asked Mountains to Sea to create products to go with the exhibit. Amanda asked me if I would be interested in developing the fragrance because she knew that I had a passion for perfume and had tailored my degree to align with my dreams of becoming a perfumer. I have always a had an interest in chemistry and a love of fragrance and had thought that being a perfumer or cosmetic chemist would be the perfect match between the two. I remember being in freshman gym class in high school, I was running laps with my best friend. We were trying to pass the time and talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I had said without hesitation; a perfumer. At that point, I had romantic dreams about living in Grasse, France and working in a beautiful and artistic laboratory with the rolling lavender fields behind me. When moving to Asheville last year, I did not expect to meet such amazing people with an opportunity at a skincare company whose mission I 100 percent agree with! This has been such a blessing.
2) What do you love the most about your job? And what else do you do besides perfuming? How did this project to make a perfume come to be?
I love the creativity behind creating a perfume and how each note plays off each other. I love smelling the difference one drop of essential oil can make. They say the ocean is filled with thousands of single drops, a perfume is composed of single drops, as well. Changing one makes a larger difference than you would expect, just as one person can make a difference. I also work as the Quality Manager at the US Botanical Safety Laboratory and at Shady Grove Flowers. It is so fun to one day be using chamomile essential oil in a fragrance and the next day be using chamomile flowers in an arrangement!
3) Tell me about this perfume, what was your inspiration? Is there a story behind it?
Yes, this fragrance is very close to my heart. This fragrance is romantic and enchanting. A year ago, my husband and I eloped to a secret rose garden in Paris. It was beautiful! It was tucked away behind the Hotel du Grand Veneur, through a wrought iron gate away from the bustling Parisian streets were rose trellises everywhere in full bloom. The garden was enchanting, joyful, and charged with the exciting energy of two people in love saying, "I do." The fragrance was based around this memory and this garden. Rose is one of the main components, of course. Jasmine, oud, and bergamot lend a lot to this composition, as well.
4) I've never seen solid perfume like this, what made you decide to do that instead of a liquid?
We loved the idea of such a romantic secret garden being held in a locket, something tucked away from everyone's eyes and worn close to your heart. The perfume is diluted in jojoba oil and mixed into beeswax as the carrier. We tried to keep everything as local as possible, so rather than mixing it with an alcohol base, we used local beeswax. As much as we could, we used essential oil from a local distiller, Blue Ridge Aromatics, and the lockets are made in the USA and from a small family run company. We, also, were keeping in mind that many of the visitors to the Arboretum will be getting on a plane and most likely, would rather purchase something in a solid form.
5) When people smell this perfume, what feeling would you like it to evoke?
I hope to take people to a magical place, for me it is the tucked away rose garden in Paris, for someone else it may be the trout stream at the Arboretum, or another their front porch filled with sunshine and blooming window boxes. I want people to feel mesmerized and enchanted as though they are in a wonderful dream. The jasmine and the oud add a headiness and a honey sweetness to the scent. The rose and white pine bring a softness and freshness to it, while the bergamot adds brightness. It is complex, but not heavy. It is joyful and romantic.
6) When sourcing the ingredients for this perfume, what was most important to you? Do you feel like you remained true to that or did it evolve as you worked through the creation?
It was important to put high quality essential oils in this scent. The base notes were very important to me because they are the foundation of the scent. They are what allows the fragrance to hold up to a heavier carrier such as beeswax and they are what give the perfume its staying power. Oud is one the most expensive essential oils there are, but it was the perfect addition to give this composition a roundness. I do feel like I remained true to this. We used what the composition called for and did not try comprise. It was important to me that this was an elevated scent.
7) What ingredients are in the perfume?
This fragrance has a base of oud, and jasmine. Middle notes of rose, white pine, and lavender. Top notes of bergamot and black pepper.
8) What is unique about Mountains to Sea as a company?
Mountains to Sea is an amazing company run by extraordinary people. It based skincare from the best source: nature and it is backed by science and the knowledge of the scientists that create these products. "Our skin care products are extracted from what inspires us and makes us feel whole in nature. We combine the ingredients in ways that promote wellbeing, and package them cleanly so they do not rely on chemical preservatives, only plant extracts and ferments. The end result is refreshing, nurturing, and at one with the rugged, meandering beauty of the North Carolina coastal plains, piedmont, and mountain landscapes. Because our products have a naturally shorter shelf life, we make them in small batches so you know you are always getting the freshest possible ingredients. All of our products are handcrafted with love in our Asheville, NC lab."
9) Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about the launch of this perfume??
I am so excited to have been a part of this project. It has been a honor to work with such a great company. And stay tuned for what's next up our sleeve!
We hope you enjoyed this little Q&A and that you support Morgan and Mountains to Sea by visiting our shop here and sharing it with family and friends!