Earlier this week we chatted with the charming and ever-so-talented, Miguel Ángel, founder of ELM RD botanical scents. Miguel is a holistic aromatherapist and maker of luxury wax candles that have been infused with the finest essential oils and botanical fragrances. In this meet the maker blog feature, Miguel gives us a glimpse into his studio and his life; he reveals his many sources of inspiration and shares details of how new fragrances are developed.
Hello Miguel! Can you introduce yourself and tell us more about ELM RD?
The story of ELM RD began almost three years ago when I was a Global Operations Director at a large Advertising agency. After a relentless schedule of meetings during a business trip to San Francisco, I found myself with a few hours to spare before catching my flight back to London. I was quite stressed and anxious and needed to connect with nature so I asked the taxi driver to drop me off somewhere where I could just disconnect. This is how I ended up at the Golden Gate Park. As I walked in the park the aromas of the towering eucalyptus trees flooded my brain, evoking memories of wonderful places. These thoughts made me feel relaxed and restored and I realised how valuable our sense of smell can be to our well-being. This moment is what inspired me to investigate the world of scents and to study aromatherapy. My main goal was to create and develop a product that would help others manage stress and anxiety and, most importantly, feel the same way I felt that day at the Golden Gate Park.
A year and half later, ELM RD’s debut collection of natural Aromatherapy wood-wick candles and aromatherapy room and linen mists was born. We launched with 5 especially formulated essential oil blends: Happiness, Serenity, Intimacy, Freedom and Courage. Each blend was inspired by a different scent memory and the essential oils where carefully selected and blended together to evoke the same emotions as the memory through aromatherapy.
Since then, the brand has evolved to also include reed diffusers, and in September 2019 we launched the Studio collection as well as our ceramic candle in collaboration with London based ceramicist Bisila Noha.
Each and every one of our products share the same purpose: to deliver a minimalist experience that allows us to disconnect from our busy day-to-day life and delivers a much-needed dose of self-care. Every product is hand-crafted by myself in the Kentish countryside using natural and sustainable ingredients that are as local as possible. The entire range is vegan, cruelty free and our packaging is fully recyclable and plastic-free.
You’re a holistic aromatherapist, what exactly does that mean?
Holistic Aromatherapy is a form of natural science that uses plant extracts such as essential oils, absolutes and concretes to promote good physical and emotional well-being. Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times and it is considered to be both an art and a science. I am currently training as a Natural Perfumer, which is opening a whole new world of possibilities to create fascinating natural fragrances with pure and natural ingredients.
What inspires you when you develop new fragrances?
My main source of inspiration are scent memories. I always think of a key memory or place that holds a special value and then develop a mood-board that captures the essence of that scent. This could include anything from pictures, textures, colours, words, you name it. I also like to engage the other senses, so I would often research sounds or music that are associated with that memory. I then select the ingredients based on their combined therapeutic benefits and spend months, or even years, experimenting with them until the formula is just right.
Many of your fragrances are influenced by the sounds, sights and smells from worldwide destinations: Valencia, Thailand and South Africa, to name but a few. Where else has aromatherapy taken you?
To be honest, it hasn’t really taken me anywhere... yet! The truth is that I always work from past memories instead of travelling to a specific location to find inspiration. I find that if I plan it too much and go somewhere with the intention of finding inspiration it does not always happen. I guess everyone has a slightly different approach. I am lucky that throughout my career in global advertising I had the opportunity to travel to many countries and I have a large memory bank of emotions to tap into.
Where is your favourite global destination?
If I had to choose one, it’d have to be Cape Town, in South Africa.
What’s most important when developing a new fragrance blend?
Material quality and origin are two key important factors for me. Then, depending on the main purpose of the fragrance I would prioritise health benefits over the overall scent. For example, for our Wellbeing range, my main priority was to deliver a blend with therapeutic benefits. On the other hand, for the Studio collection, my objective was really to create a beautiful fragrance that encapsulates the essence of the scent memory and takes me back to that place. In this case, the therapeutic benefits take a more secondary role.
Please tell us about your collaboration with Bisila Noha ceramics?
Bisila and I used to work together in our previous lives in advertising. She left the agency to pursue a career as a ceramicist and I have admired her work for a long time. From the moment I embarked on my own journey with ELM RD I knew we had to collaborate and create something really unique that would go well beyond its decorative purpose.
Do you have a favourite scent blend?
This is a very tough one! This is like asking me who is my favourite child… haha. Obviously I love all of them but Happiness holds a very special place in my heart as it was inspired by my grandmother’s courtyard in Valencia, Spain.