Friday, May 4, 2012

JoAnne Bassett Interview With Yosh - Aroma Village

Interview with JoAnne Bassett, an artisanal hand-crafted natural perfumer with an aromatherapy background based in beautiful San Diego with royal heritage from France and Germany.

YOSH: Your genre is natural botanical perfumes – made with organic, wild crafted plant based materials – completely animal and synthetic free. Would you compare this style to being a vegan in the culinary world?

JoAnne: No. There are many reasons people eat the diets they have. Some are purists.

YOSH: Are you also a vegan?

JoAnne: No. Later in life I started a vegetarian lifestlye. It did not last that many years as my body required other nutrients.

YOSH: How much do you think diet effects the way perfumes act on the skin?

JoAnne: I think it has an effect just like if your skin is dry or moist. If your skin has more moisture the scent may last longer. Your personal chemistry is the factor regarding how a perfume will smell on you.

YOSH: I once had a customer who ate a bison burger and I couldn’t get the smell out of my nose for several days. It kind of grossed me out. Has that happened to you before?

JoAnne: I have smelled garlic and other spices that exude from the body. When I had LeBijou, my perfume boutique in La Jolla, CA I had people coming into my store reeking of synthetic scents. I could hardly stand it.

YOSH: Many perfume lovers who have not quite embraced the world of naturals often complain that natural perfumes lack consistency or tenacity or that they smell too raw. Would you say that those qualities are in fact part of the beauty? Or how do you over come those challenges without it turning into a brown mess or base notes?

JoAnne: Tenacity would be an issue I have heard regarding natural perfumes and even some synthetic fragrances. On the facebook groups there are people complaining of the synths being short lived. Some of my fragrances range from 2 hours and on up to 5 hours or more. Fragrance bloggers who have reviewed my perfumes have spoken of longevity of the fragrance. I am inclined to prefer the fragrance not being so in your face. There are fragrances people wear like a cloud around them. They spray on too much.

I think a fragrance does not need to last all day and the beauty of natural fragrances is they are complex and change. Naturals develop on your skin and you can smell the florals develop, and then the wood. Synthetic fragrances and mixed media are more inclined to be linear and smell the same from the first spray to an hour later on your skin.

When formulating my couture natural perfumes I do not go heavy on the base notes. A fragrance can be reapplied. My Timeless Limited Edition parfum is an annointing oil and has a lot of resins and woody notes. That is not my usual style of perfume.

YOSH: Your perfumes also have deep healing energies. You obviously use intuition in blending your products. You encourage people to be prepared to transform their lives when they sign up to do a custom session with you. I too find that most people who create custom perfumes with me are often in a transitional place in their spiritual lives – marriage, divorce, birthday, graduation or some other milestone. Why do you think that is?

JoAnne: Yes my perfumes certainly have deep healing energies. Yes intuition plays a large part in my creations especially my Custom Couture parfums. Being an aromatherapist I take into consideration the healing benefits of the essential oils. That is why I love using only natural ingredients. The essential oils are alive and the life force enhances our bodies and we receive healing on many levels.

I have noticed people come to me for custom perfumes when they are needing support in making a change. We often go to a coach or counselor to help us make transitions in our lives. I have observed the transformations that take place after a person has worn my one of a kind custom perfume I have made for them.

YOSH: I personally use both manmade and natural essences because I prefer a hybrid style of creating perfumes. I find that it gives me a broader palette.
In your 20 years in the business, have you always been a natural perfumer?

JoAnne: Yes. My nose is very sensitive and I am allergic to the chemicals of synthetic fragrances. In the 1980's I had to stop wearing the synth's as I got headaches, eyes watering, coughing,etc.

YOSH: Did that come from being an aromatherapist?

JoAnne: Yes and no. I also made natural perfumes in the 1970's from the cheap essential oils you would find in the small stores. Ylang ylang, patchouli, citrus, sandalwood, etc. became aromatherapy perfumes.

YOSH: Do you have an opinion about natural perfumes being made with less focus on the healing aspects and more focus on just the olfactive components?

JoAnne: When I formulate at my perfume organ my focus is creating a great it will smell on the skin. I want my fragrances to be complex, distinguished, and classic for the most part. The ingredients are often more rare and the perfumes become luxury items. The healing aspects are just a part of the package. Some of the classic formulas have rose, jasmine, and sandalwood. These materials open the chakras and help balance our bodies.

YOSH: You’ve got the French Collection and Royal Collection (and the Limited) but they all seem Frenchie to me? Are you a Francophile or do you have some French ancestry? Do you find that Americans and French customers have the same or different tastes in perfumery?

JoAnne: I am of Royal heritage on both sides of my family. My Father's family was from Paris, France and my Mother's family was from Germany. My French roots trace back to Charlemagne. I relate a great deal to all things French. It is in my blood. I love Paris.

I sat down and created the French Collection of four in one afternoon. The same thing happened with the Royal Collection of eight. They were all created in one afternoon. People have remarked that my perfumes smell like French perfumes. The original ones before all of the synthetic chemicals were used. My formulas are all my own original couture creations. I have a style that some people call French sensibility. There are projects that I have participated in where I created something totally different from the rest of my perfumes.

All people have their own tastes in perfume. I would not categorize that. At age five I wore my Mother's Midnight in Paris and her other strong perfumes. I loved them. Go figure.

YOSH: Congrats on the PLAP – Patchouli Summer of Love project. Do you hope to do something like that again in the future?

JoAnne: Thank you. I have participated in the Natural Perfumers Guild projects and other perfume blogger projects. If there is time for me to create them. I launched nine perfumes last year. I create perfume by hand. It takes a lot of energy creating artisanal, niche perfumes. Everything is done by hand. I do not use any machines.

YOSH: Do you have more space in your upcoming natural perfumery workshop?

JoAnne: Yes I do. It is Saturday, May 12. I enjoy teaching but don't do it very often.

JoAnne Bassett, Couture Natural Perfumer