Adventurers, this post is unmissable. I will ask myself: “Can perfume make me a better, kinder, happier self?” (Spoiler: Yes!)
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Let me start from afar.
My first ever post on how to deal with toxic people keeps getting found by people ON A DAILY BASIS. I don’t kid you. DAILY. So each and every week, dozens of web surfers reach my little independent outpost by looking up how to deal with toxic friends and relatives. And while the aforementioned post focused on what I call “fire-fighting” – the first steps to take, this post will focus on… purpose.
Read on for not just a review of beautiful perfumes, but also for a review of a highly inspirational book and to meet an exceptional social entrepreneur and an exceptional green sister. Meet a BEAUTYCALYPSE Brand to Watch.
IN WHICH I FIND INTRIGUING FRAGRANCES
BUT CAN’T BUY THEM
As you might remember, I am on a lookout for ethical and toxin-free fragrance ever since going green (more than a decade ago). Giving up those lush and sexy niche juices was the hardest challenge for a fragrance aficionada like me because early organic scents simply haven’t delivered – you have probably read about a few excellent exceptions here.
And several months ago, BEAUTYCALYPSE was already up and running, I discovered a Canadian brand called The 7 Virtues. The perfumes, their website told me, were vegan and free from parabens and phthalates. The ethical part was just as compelling: true to their motto “Make perfume, not war” the young brand sourced their essential oils from nations rebuilding after war or strife, supporting local farmers by simply partnering with them and doing business.
“Perfume, not poppies” it said about the juices called Noble Rose of Afghanistan and Afghanistan Orange Blossom. Another perfume called Middle East Peace was made with Grapefruit from Israel and Lime and Basil of Iran. Vetiver of Haiti’s eponymous ingredient supported the community in Haiti. (Update: 2015 launched Patchouli of Rwanda redefines not only ethical business and female empowerment but creates a perfect modern patchouli-based juice.)
I was beyond intrigued and attempted to place an order.
Unfortunately, there was no international shipping offered, instead I received a very nice email saying that if I liked, they would approach me later once shipping to Germany was possible. Of course I said yes, please. And went on with my life.
IN WHICH A MESSAGE ARRIVES
In Mid-September, an email popped up in my inbox. The message began with the words:
Barb Stegemann here, CEO of The 7 Virtues. I am in Frankfurt this week (…) I am reaching out to everyone who has written us wanting to purchase our fragrances that help rebuild. (…)
Wow, I thought. That’s thoughtful. And business-savvy. I liked it!
She was in Europe to grow the distribution and in the meantime she wouldn’t forget her direct customers. The email then went on saying how to place the order and what exactly was inside the custom blend box offered (4 fragrances; one 30ml, three 15ml each). I ordered my own custom blend box immediately, and then revealed myself as somebody who was of the writing trade, and suggested… an interview. And Barb said yes!
PART 3. BC BRAND TO WATCH
IN WHICH ONE SKYPE CALL BECOMES THREE INTERVIEWS
Barb’s mission is big, and the story is amazing, and so the interview was born to become, in fact, three. Different. Interviews.
The first interview aired on a perfume blog I like, Olfactoria’s Travels, focussing on the making of the scents and on perfume connoisseurship. We talk about the perfumer (le Nez), the non-tox approach to the fragrances and about breaking the rules. Read the full interview here.
In the second interview, conducted for LOCALSPOTTER, you’ll discover inspiring and in-depth details on how all of us can lead a better life and design a better world: The 7 Virtues’ Barb Stegeman in portrait.
And finally, in the spirit of female leadership, go and get some amazing business lessons of courage and wisdom in the third interview I wrote exclusively for The Next Women.
IN WHICH I PROVIDE A PERFUME REVIEW
Good news: all five fragrances can be blended to your liking. And of course they can be worn by men and women alike.
So here is my personal review of the Custom Blend Box (at 107,75 CAD) along with my suggestions how to wear them!
Middle East Peace Eau de Parfum
A warm and mellow, yet green blend of lime, grapefruit, and basil, Middle East Peace develops into a dry and powdery base of bamboo and cedar. Worn alone it’s almost as lightweight as an Eau de Toilette, invigorating, mildly sweet, very “wearable”.
Blended with Vetiver of Haiti (3:1), it creates a bold and intense fragrance, rich in contrast.
Vetiver of Haiti Eau de Parfum
Crisp bergamot opening; then a sweet and powdery hug of amber and lime tree to amp up vetiver. Not my personal fave on its own because it strongly reminds me of my grandfather’s cologne.
Blended with Middle East Peace in a ratio of about 1 to 3 it is heavenly though: tart, crisp, fresh like a garden in the rain. Another favourite blending partner is Afghanistan Orange Blossom – keep reading! 😉
Noble Rose of Afghanistan Eau de Parfum
This is a rose fragrance. Period. Rose lovers, rejoice – rose haters, uhm,.. give it a try?
The Eau de Parfum opens with a bang of rose oil. But it’s not a sweet pink bouquet of roses. Carnation, clove and peppercorn do their best to add a spicy dryness. After a few minutes, Noble Rose of Afghanistan paints me the picture of Earl Grey in an old precious china cup with roses painted on it.
Obviously, you could add more citrus (Middle East Peace, 1:1 ratio) which will create a scintillating, festive, brilliant juice, or you could have your incredibly lush bouquet of flowers with a cup of sweet loukum on the side, metaphorically speaking, by adding Afghanistan Orange Blossom…
Afghanistan Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum
If you love Neroli, this is your pick by love of Jove.
Orange blossoms, elegant jasmine, delicious freesia. Freesia! One of my favourite flowers!
I’m not much of a Neroli lover because its “oiliness” can be too much for me, but here, in a glorious heap with other white petals, in particular with freesia and jasmine, Afghanistan Orange Blossom is the fragrance I enjoy wearing on its own.
If you blend it with Noble Rose of Afghanistan (1:1 ratio) you will obtain a regal essence: lush, flowery, shiny, powerful and bold. It’s not girly at all.
And if you blend it with Vetiver of Haiti (1:1), neroli, jasmine and freesia will give vetiver more warm, carnal sweetness, more elegance and depth. It really gets intimate, cosy, delightful.
Patchouli of Rwanda
A fresh and sublime take on Patchouli. Read the full review here.
This is my favourite T7V fragrance and it blends well with both Noble Rose of Afghanistan (1:1) and Middle East Peace. Mixed with Vetiver of Haiti it’s way too powerful for me, while Afghanistan Orange Blossom makes it sunny and brighter than bright.
You can also blend together more than two juices, it’s up to you!
AND NOW ABOUT BEING THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD
As mentioned above, The 7 Virtues scents are vegan-friendly, sourced from natural essential oils, plus they’re free from phthalates and parabens. But the world of The 7 Virtues includes also a (bestselling) book, which is even more into detox, soul detox that is. Which comes as great ancient knowledge to help us women become a better, happier, more successful while discovering the beauty of who you really are.
The self-published bestseller is called The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen – a woman’s guide to living and leading in an illogical world.
The seven virtues on the path to a happier life are:
Wonder – asking yourself “what if I did a different thing”
Moderation – learn the difference between happiness and pleasure
Courage – learn to change the game (politics)
Truth – ask yourself “what would you do if you knew you would not fail?”
Justice – if “all wars are fought for money” (Socrates), how can money create peace?
Wisdom – lead a meaningful and happy life and succeed
Beauty – “the most beautiful model is a role model” (Barb Stegemann)
Barb weaves the ancient philosophers’ wisdom into the fabric of her book, which is part her own story, part stories of others, and part “working sheets” for the reader. The book questions why so many children live in poverty if North American women own the buying power; why women hold only 20% of the political seats; suggests how philosophical, logical thinking can help women and men lead a better life. The book’s lesson is to meet and to unleash the true inner self, to find a purpose/ a mission – because once those two are set, you will never again really worry about stupid remarks, latest fads, or irrelevant gossip, will you. And wouldn’t life for all of us be so much better of more people were happier?
Let me wrap up this post with a beautiful quote from the book:
I liken our journey to a flight path. If you go off just one degree for a long time, you can go way off course and into dangerous territory. If you control your flight path with clear goals and do the work to ensure you and your team are navigating with your co-pilot, your team will have a smooth, enjoyable journey with a good landing, regardless of the storms and turbulence that may come your way during the ride”.
– The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, p. 121
Personally I believe that every obstacle on our way is really a chance to grow. It’s telling us straight what’s going wrong. In fact, if you think about it, it’s more honest than our best friend.
Here are two of greatest examples that prove:
A. what comes as your worst enemy (cancer), can become inspiration for you and others
-> Kris Carr is an awe-instilling example;
B. what looks like too big to give way (sickening food system in schools), is an invitation to a revolution
-> Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution TED Award talk.