no. 2 Abigail Ryburn
Abigail Ryburn shares with us her story of moving from New Zealand to Melbourne, how she spends her time during the pandemic, and her journey from synthetic to natural products.
1. Tell me about yourself!
I’m from New Zealand, I moved to Melbourne 9 years ago to expand my knowledge in nursing. I work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in theatre as the ANUM for Orthopaedics and one day, I would love to take my knowledge back to New Zealand.
2. How are you spending your time during lockdown in Melbourne?
I’m always trying to learn different things! I’m currently learning French and trying to start German soon. Also, I learnt the violin when I was around 6 years old for a number of years, though I haven’t played for most of my adult years. I decided to buy a new violin and am in the process of teaching myself how to play again.
3. I would love to hear about your fragrance journey! How did you transition to using natural fragrances?
I grew up at an organic blueberry orchard in New Zealand. It was the first organic blueberry farm in New Zealand! My journey of moving away from synthetic fragrances to natural fragrances was affected by how I was brought up. If I had the choice of chemicals vs non chemical, I would always find my way back to the non chemicals.
My mum was also quite herbalistic and she was always using home creams. All of the products I use now have no synthetic ingredients in them.
Even with my background, I never seemed to be deterred from synthetic fragrance. I suppose I felt as though they were okay given the perceived minimalist amount that might be absorbed? However, one day my Mum told me not to spray it on my neck. For years and years my Mum & Aunty sprayed perfume on their necks. Now they both have brown marks on either side of their neck, from the combination of synthetics and sun exposure. Ever since then, I sprayed my synthetic perfume either on my clothes and hair. Slowly, I’ve started to discard my synthetic perfumes altogether, as I’ve started to really dislike the chemically laced scents.
I like natural fragrances because they’re not toxic with the bonus of just smelling great! I know people say it doesn’t last as long, but the smell of it is so much better and I feel so much better for it.
4. How does your fragrance affect your wellbeing?
One thing I really liked when I went to the Perfume Playground Club workshop were the flower essences! At the end of creating your perfume, you can add flower essences to your creation if they’re there to use. You can add as many types which resonate with you as you like, because they don’t alter the scent. The ones I’ve added focused on strength and immunity and it was very uplifting.
I find all of the citrus based scents to be very uplifting, which is important for wellbeing. I’m fairly certain my favourite is grapefruit, they just make you feel so good.
5. Do you have any scent obsessions?
I’ve always had an obsession with scent, I’ll go into the shops and smell all the soaps and room diffusers, perfumes etc. The last time I was in Italy, I found this store tucked away on a side street in Florence where you can see the whole process of creating essential oils before they make them into their perfumes. This was quite important to me as it wasn’t made in a lab and I could see the entire natural processes evolving before me. Ever since then, I haven’t used any synthetic fragrance. Monna Lisa Aua Flor was one of the first natural perfumes that I bought.
6. When you came to our workshop, you created a fragrance with Mandarin, Honey Myrtle, Manuka and Peru Balsam – what made you choose these ingredients?
I chose Mandarin because I wanted something uplifting though also fresh. The Honey Myrtle added a similar freshness to the design and the Peru Balsam was a warm base to ground it. I chose Manuka because I was experimenting and that’s why I enjoy the workshops so much, because I get to test all the ingredients and create my own fragrance.
7. What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining our workshops?
In some of the workshops, I found people second guessing themselves, unsure with what ingredients to choose. But at the end of the workshop, we get to smell each other’s creations and I have always been astounded at how they’ve turned out! The workshop is all about experimentation, trust yourselves, and Samantha is fantastic at guiding you if you feel unsure.
8. Share with us what fragrance you plan to design next with Perfume Playground! Would you use similar ingredients or something completely different?
I would like to try something quite different next time. I’ve noticed that I use Cedarwood and Sandalwood a lot, and Citrus oils because of their uplifting effects. I know what I like now, so I want to see what I can create and still like! Perhaps Bergamot, Thyme & Musk (the vegan derivative that is).
In this lockdown period, I’m actually trying to make something by myself at home with the few oils I’ve purchased from Perfume Playground.
9. Anything else you would like to share with us that might inspire others?
Experimentation is fun, that’s why I like going to the workshops. I get to tap into my creative side and it’s quite meditative. The whole process of making something is very calming. If you’re somebody that goes 100 mile a minute, everything is left at the door when you walk inside, & your phone is definitely on silent.
As a nurse and being busy all of the time, it’s lovely to take a moment for yourself and just enjoy the process.
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