Of all our senses, smell is the most difficult to describe. For instance, trying to explain the intoxicating scent of your lover can be as elusive and subjective as trying to describe an abstract expressionist painting. Colors, textures and shapes swirl and blend, creating images that may conjure powerful feelings for the viewer that no one else will experience from the same work of art.
Jack Chaitman and Joana Johnston view their line of scents—called the “Scents of Knowing”—in the same manner. They believe their uniquely distilled plant essences have the power to transform.
“Smell will help bring me to understand my emotions,” says Chaitman. “Smell can bring you to the feeling of who you are, not just the concept of who you are.”
As a scent is released, it filters through our olfactory regions and into the limbic system—the emotional and motivational part of our brain—altering how we feel, as we smell. And when our feelings change, the scent changes. Chaitman and Johnston encourage “staying with” the smell and seeing how the process alters our perception of the scent, and vice versa.
This artistic alchemy may sound esoteric because as humans, we aren’t trained to use our sense of smell as much as our other senses. However, most of the animal kingdom depends on smell for survival—to find food and potential mates, to establish location and recognize danger. Plants especially use fragrance to attract pollinators and repel predators.
It’s this life force that Chaitman and Johnston hope to retain in the roots, resins, flowers, seeds, fruits and woods they gather by utilizing hydro-distillation and pure silica crystal quartz glass flasks.
“There’s an intelligence of nature that keeps everything working,” says Chaitman. “The more intact this intelligence is, the more life force [the plant essence] has.”
Aside from their essential oils, Chaitman and Johnston also have a line of water perfumes, lotions and hydrosols—pure, therapeutic, water-based, by-products of the plant distillations. And of course, all their products are edible.
“If you’re absorbing them through your skin,” says Chaitman, “they should be edible.”
“There’s a difference you can feel in your whole body,” says Johnston. “And we want to show this experience to others—that there’s an alternative to synthetic. It’s the love of something pure.” MTW