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Q&A with Julie of In Fiore

by Waris Ahluwalia | October 30, 2014

How long have you been working in the beauty business?
I established In Fiore in 1999.
What drew you to the industry?
I delved into oils and blending at a young age. My mother worked for a LA-based company that imported French cosmetics, so our vanity tables and medicine cabinets were a wellspring of various concoctions and hand blended perfumes. I’ve been deeply enamored with scent since then, so I started experimenting with the various textures and tinctures. This set the tone for In Fiore. For the better part of 30 years, I’ve been studying various healing modalities including aromatherapy, doctrine of signatures. Ayurveda, flower essences, anthroposophical science, plant alchemy, and energy medicine. I guess you could say I have some sort of spiritual appreciation for the energy behind living things.
What is so special about the scent you created for House of Waris RARE?
When we first opened the dialogue with Waris and explored his interest in oils, we knew we wanted the story to be inspired by tropical adventures, unbridled romance, and wild animals. This led us to Queen Rose Attar and Night Queen, which are made from tropical florals and traditional attars of southern India. 
Queen Rose Attar is a tribute to rose gulab ‘Regal Queen of Flowers’ and comprised of traditional but rare Indian rose attar. I say rare because the actual roses are placed within copper distilling vessels where they soak in heated water. Consequently, the vapors pass over the distillations and care collected into a receiving vessels containing sandalwood oil, which absorbs the rose essence over a 20-day period. As such, new rose are distilled each day.
Night Queen is an ode to the flowering shrubs that blossom with the inimitable scent of jasmine. The delicate blossoms are not typically cultivated due to their fleeting but highly seductive scent as the narcotic has been known to attract too many cobras. The true jasmine absolute has an aroma quite similar to Tuberose but with a strong peppery top note. Energetically it has a carnal, dark sensuality…like cobra sex. 
The Night Queen oil created for House of Waris RARE is comprised of three different varieties of night blooming jasmine that are hydrodistilled in copper vessels similar to the traditional North Indian technique, which is now becoming a dying artform.
Where does the oil come from?
The essential oils and attars are from India. Some of the tropical jasmine and rose are harvested from small farms and hydrodistilled near Coimbatore at the foot of the Nilgiri Hills in the state of Tamil Nadu while others are from the rustic countryside of Rajasthan.
What advice would you give someone looking for a new signature scent?
Scent is very personal. I’d say not to get too attached to the current popular fragrances
and seek out that sole scent that resonates with your unique chemistry.
What are your favourite scents?
The scent of a dying bonfire. The desert air after the rain. The essence of orange blossoms while standing amidst an orange tree orchard in full bloom.
What's the value of "handmade" in today's commercial landscape?
Handmade products carry the signature and added value of intention and care. For me, it’s all about the connection and knowing where something came from. It’s about a genuine creative expression and soul behind something unique that provokes an emotional reaction if you will. Personally, everything I wear was ‘handmade.’ My silk kimono and kaftans are lovingly crafted by my best friend and leather sandals custom cut and fitted in person by a dutiful sandal maker in Athens. The efforts I go to acquire such fine yet simple handmade products are always well worth the time.
Tell us something that oils are great for (that we might not know about)
A daily regimen of full-body oil self massage strengthens the body's tolerance and immune system and improves sleep patterns.
Where are your oils most popular?
Japan is our biggest market. Though, next year, we have plans to expand throughout Asia and the Middle East.
Oils have been used for centuries, both for perfume and for healing, has this tradition has been lost? How are you reinvigorating this tradition?
Aromatic oils have been used for their curative powers on the physical, as well as their inherent way to transcend and protect. This tradition is still alive in many cultures where the use of aromatic oils for wellness and ritual run deep. Culturally speaking, the regular use and appreciation for essential oils has never become a mainstream thing in the US until recently.
I’d like to hope we are reinvigorating this time-honored tradition with our use of oil as an illuminant for medicine and scent. When we launched the In Fiore brand, there was a major learning curve for us to climb. Today, our philosophy centers on the synthesis of holistic modalities and using scent as a good, effective way for therapeutic needs. We use only raw plants that are “live” and never processed so as to conserve their nourishing properties and vitality. We believe that if plant materials are processed by isolating active constituents, it disturbs its intelligence and organizing power or “signature.”