I met Tanja Bochnig from April Aromatics at Esxence back in March and was introduced to her natural perfume range for the first time. Tanja has thirteen fragrances in her line and I have been wearing them for a few weeks now and can attest that they are beautiful creations. They are also gaining accolades.
Calling All Angels was a winner of the Artisan Category at the Art & Olfaction Awards in 2014 and really is a must try perfume if you are an incense fan. It’s warm, sumptuous, uplifting and smells absolutely divine.
On first acquaintance I found that Tanja was generous, kind, engaging and one of those people you instantly warm to. I also remember that she was in bare feet at the show where so many are dressed to the nines. For some reason this slightly quirky image has stayed with me.
Tanja kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her perfume line and creative process. I’m really honoured to share her words with you as I believe you will gain a true sense of who she is and the thinking behind April Aromatics. I sent Tanja questions by email and these are her answers. So read on and I hope you enjoy this insight into her world and April Aromatics. I’ll also be writing a Quick Sniff post on the collection shortly so hopefully her words here will pique your interest.
First up, what did you do before you started April Aromatics?
I was living in Paris, London and finally NYC and was working as a model, travelling the world from one shoot to the other. On one of my travels I discovered some essential oils in a health food store and started using them for several discomforts that came along with travelling. I quickly realised how they helped me with fatigue, jet lag in getting energy boosts on my long working days, in the desert or in a crowded city.
My interest in the world of the plants became so big that I started studying aromatherapy, herbology and lots of other healing modalities that answers your next question. One world supported the other. The modelling supported my studies financially and the ‘healing’ world helped me to stay grounded in this hectic, superficial world.
I’ve read that you studied aromatherapy. Was this what lured you into the world of scent? Or was it something earlier?
The studies of aromatherapy definitely lured me into the world of perfumery; it was the beginning of a long journey and a never-ending, exciting study. But my passion for scent started much earlier. It was actually already very present when I was a little girl. I remember my mother’s perfume (Chamade by Guerlain), and I always remember my father baking for different occasions in our family. The smell of coffee was always present in our house and at Christmas there were the most intriguing scents of Gluehwein and Lebkuchen cookies around. My sense of smell was always very prominent and I realise that my 6 year old daughter is very similar to how I was and am. We are both ‘sniffers’ and we do smell everything. Sometimes this is not a good thing…. 😉
Another important olfactive memory was the incense that was burned in church. I love that part of it. It eventually led me to create Calling all Angels. In church I felt the incense was rather a cold incense smell, I wanted Calling all Angels to be warm and gourmand.
There are many more memories of the world of scent, but maybe I will save this for another story.
April Aromatics is a natural range. Can you explain to the readers what this means exactly.
The perfumes of April Aromatics are made with natural ingredients, even the alcohol is organic. I choose essential oils, absolues and tinctures made from plant material only (no animal ingredients). Each scent is infused with individually chosen essences of semi precious stones, which afford energy and harmony to the wearer. The energy and intention that go into each creation as well as the times of new and full moon during the production are highly important for me. All products are handcrafted with love and care.
What are the benefits of natural perfumery?
Some of the most important aspects of Natural Perfumery for me are the healing and therapeutic properties of the plants and essential oils used, which can be felt when wearing all natural perfumes. The marvellous effects natural perfumes can have on the body/mind/ spirit are worth the effort to find and wear them. In today’s world, we are overloaded with synthetic smells in almost every possible product. To follow the beautiful path to enlightenment, also as a yogi, I personally find it important to seek truth in all things. When factory made, synthetic chemicals fog up our minds and bodies. It is nearly impossible to function at a high level, let alone see or understand what is true. When I inhale untrue scents into my mind and brain, I lose the capacity to discern truth. On the physical level scientific evidence is starting to pile up against synthetics.
Natural Perfumery is about listening to the message of the plants and precious flowers; hearing their subtle voices and taking in the wisdom they so lovingly impart to us.
Similarly to using herbs for treating physical conditions, for me, natural perfumes are like soothing balms for the soul and heart. The world is going through big, energetic changes with much turmoil. Concomitantly there is the return of ‘light and love’. Many people can feel it. The return of this light will bring more people who are opening up to the spirit world, to the world not visible to our physical eyes. People are softening and becoming more sensitive. With this state of being we can experience the healing power of natural essences and the flowers in their full state. That is why it is important for me to become quiet, go within, learn how to listen and to be able to see all the beauty around us in nature. Natural Perfumes assist me to do that.
Your April Aromatics range is very distinctive. The perfumes are really beautiful and feel like they connect at a deep level. Was this your intention?
Thank you Megan! The intention was to create all natural perfumes that not only smell good, but reach the wearer on a much more subtle level and to keep the line really simple in design. I love white and clear, light colours which is also represented in the packaging. I always feel that less is more.
All is energy. Everything we think, say and feel is energy. For me it’s very important what intention goes into a bottle and with what INTENTION a product is created. I believe people, who are open for it, cannot only smell it, but feel a product and its quality.
The chakra oils for yoga practice add another dimension to your range. Can you tell me a little about how you created these?
April Aromatics consists of two lines. For one there is the natural perfume line and then there are the therapeutic products that have an even deeper effect, rather than to just smell good. The chakra oils are for yoga and healing practitioners, massage therapists and basically everyone, who wants to go deeper and open up their ‘energy centres’/ chakras.
They consist of organic jojoba oil and organic essential oils, infused with crystals that resonate with the individual energy centre. Each of the 7-chakra oils are created with the intention to harmonise with each attribute of the chakras. For instance for the root chakra, I chose plants that are close to the earth, are related to the colour red and help with grounding and earthing ourselves. Each organ, system of the body, chakra, dis-ease, has a vibration. Plants have a vibration. Therefore selecting plants and essential oils, which have similar energy vibrations, can assist with similar physical, emotional or psychological conditions. The body and the energy field contain information. Essential oils also contain information. When essential oils are used on the body or in a subtle way they help gather information as well as pass new information on. Essential oils can bring energy to parts of our system where the energy is depleted and in need of repair. Essential oils are the life force of the plant. Essential oils are alive.
When you create a new perfume, what is the process you go through? Is it always the same, or does it vary?
I am a very intuitive person and that is how I live my life. I try to break free from most of the conventional rules, wherever I can and try to work this way. Unfortunately this is not always possible, so I follow the rules where I have to, but everywhere else, I am trusting my gut feeling.
There is no one way to create and from all that I learned in my studies, it rather confused me, so I ended up creating my own method, what worked for me. Realising that ‘my own way’ was ok as well, gave me wings. Wings to create beyond boundaries. I learned to listen to my feelings, listening to what the plants tell us and also what is needed in today’s world to help heal. When I create, I do not want to create another good smelling perfume. It is close to my heart to create a scent that touches people, helps to break limitations and opens up to new dimensions of feeling and thinking. The plants help me with this. The more sensitive we become, the more we are able to feel what is going on between the ethers …
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration happens for me everywhere, especially on my travels and being in nature. I am also a very visual person. Vision, scent and feeling all belong together for me. One triggers the other. And beauty plays a big role in it as well. I can see beauty everywhere and to create beauty around me is very healing and essential for me. I want to create beauty and help people find their own inner beauty. Inner and outer beauty go along together. One is as vital as the other. We are human beings, made of flesh and we are given bodies in this lifetime to cherish and to be grateful for.
Also my daughter, as well as being in a cosy room, or on a windy beach, in the woods after a rainy day, all inspire me equally.
You live in Germany again after many years away. How does where you live impact upon your work?
True! I live in a big city, in Berlin which is fortunately very green, with many lakes and nature around us, so it makes it easier than when I was living in NYC. Berlin is covered with Linden trees and in June when the trees are in full bloom, the whole city is covered in an intoxicating, sweet, sexy smell. There is a famous Blvd. called Unter den Linden, under the Linden trees. It is obvious that I have created one of my perfumes Unter den Linden, inspired by living in Berlin!
Do you aim to create a certain number of perfumes each year, or is it less structured than this?
It would be nice to bring out one perfume per year on the market, though it is a big and expensive process to register, get it tested and approved by the EU regulations. I have 13 perfumes in the April Aromatics line right now and it is important to market these properly, so I feel quality is more important than quantity. Also people get confused if there are too many perfumes in a house. BUT I still want to create and I am doing this lately for other companies. I have been asked to create ‘all natural’ scents for big cosmetic companies. This is where I get to be creative and also creating for other people personally. But no worries, there will be more April Aromatics perfumes coming out in the near future. Stay tuned.
What sort of feeling do you seek to create with your perfumes for your customers?
I want people to feel good when they use my perfumes, to see their own inner beauty and potential inside of them. I want them to open up to a different dimension and realise that there is so much more than what we can see with our physical eyes.
Have the preferences of your customers changed over the years? If so in what way?
My customers have always been different from mainstream. I mean I am not the norm and don’t really fit in, nor do I want to. But I believe that like attracts like and so I feel my customers reflect my vision and way of life.
My customers are people who understand what is takes to create an all natural perfume and all that goes into it and are looking for an ethical perfume. We attract what we give out, may it be consciously of unconsciously and each to their own. Nothing is better or worse, it just is.
I am grateful for all my customers that support my work. Here is a big thank you to all of you!!! I couldn’t do it without YOU!!!
How do you balance your creativity along with the business side of April Aromatics?
Ha, that is a very good question. It’s a constant struggle when you are an artist and I just had to learn. At times it really overwhelms me and I am fed up with ‘things’ that I have to do and wonder if it is all worth it when I see my tax return at the end of year, etc…
It is important to take breaks, to go away, even to leave your office or desk for a while and to get a change in perspective. Go for a walk in the forest and clear your head. Getting help in things that I don’t understand is also vital. At the end of the day, I always remind myself of the bigger picture and why I am doing what I do. I want to create change and leave something memorable for the world at large and to help save nature, so that we can live on this planet and appreciate its gifts to us for a very long time.
You have lovely, sharp branding and packaging for your range. Who did you use to help create this look?
Thank you. I am lucky that my husband is a brand developer and graphic designer, who supported my vision very early. He created my logo, my line and webpage presence, a very important thing to have in a successful line. As I said earlier, it’s all important equally, inner and outer beauty!
What are your favourite smells in nature? Man made? Childhood?
Oh there are too many starting with flowers, especially roses, narcissus and fresh-cut grass, moss and wet forest floors, fresh, crisp mountain air, where one can still smell the ozone it contains, the smell of smudging sage and other burned woods.
But the most amazing smell is on my daughter, her skin, her hair and the back of her neck. When I smell these, I feel total bliss. I think it’s the same for her. She often comes to me and smells my skin and then says Mommy “I love you”. Those are the moments that make life worth living. I think every parent can relate.
Man made smells? Hm, I have to think here for a moment. Maybe the fresh laundry that has been dried outside in the wind, but only from certain detergents. I use a company that uses solely essential oils with energised water, it’s from SONETT, a German company, based on the anthroposophical principle.
Childhood smells: I answered that earlier already, there are many as well – coffee, baked bread in our house, Christmas time, my mum’s perfume…etc.
What perfumes and perfumers inspire you?
Anyone who is a true alchemist and who works closest to nature in its true form. I am inspired by people’s creativity and of all the art they bring about every year. It’s so fascinating to see. The best perfumes are in nature, which is what inspires me.
If I have to think of one perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska comes to mind. He was the teacher of one of my early teachers and I admire his work and passion. Also the house of Guerlain has done amazing work and laid the groundwork for today’s perfumery values.
Which perfume of yours do you feel closest to or like the most and why?
That changes every day and by the seasons. But one that I wear a lot is Rosenlust. I use it straight on my heart chakra and in my hair, so I smell it throughout the day. It makes me feel feminine and gives me a happy feeling throughout the day. It is a scent that I can wear all year round. Also Erdenstern I love a lot. It is sexy, earthy, musky and I love it during the colder days.
How do you see your range evolving?
My logo contains the words “Organic scents and cosmetics” (my husband had the right vision early on). In the near future I want to add organic cosmetics to my range. Whether it be designed for another company or through April Aromatics itself.
I will always keep creating more perfumes, that is my passion, so I guess April Aromatics will keep growing this way. I will be evolving and learning by being open to what nature has to tell me. A little bit like a plant whisperer…
I am grateful every day to be able to have this freedom to follow my passion.
A huge thanks to Tanja for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope you enjoyed reading Tanya’s thoughts as much as I did and that her words give you more insight to the passion behind April Aromatics.
Notes : Images from Tanja Bochnig and the photo of Tanja as a model from martineswomen.net