7.31.18 | Photo Credit: Smoke Perfume & Co.
Smoke Perfume & Co. began in Kathleen Currie’s New Orleans kitchen. With a background in massage therapy and aromatherapy, she knew the healing power that scents hold, and she set out to create and perfect a scent that was as evocative as it was therapeutic.
Kathleen’s own experience working with scents and other natural healing modalities led to the beautiful blend of her signature scent, Smoke, and the company has only continued to grow. Their products are sold in stores all throughout the U.S. and online, and have spawned a cult following in the natural fragrance movement.
We chatted with Kathleen about why scent can be such a powerful healer for us, how she incorporates simple, basic wellness rituals into her own every day life and the important tip that has helped her grow her business to where it is today…
YOUR BACKGROUND IS IN MASSAGE THERAPY AND AROMATHERAPY. HOW DID YOU COME TO CRAFT THE PRODUCTS THAT EVENTUALLY BECAME YOUR FRAGRANCES FOR SMOKE PERFUME?
I was working as a new massage therapist in 2009, and had also just moved to New Orleans from Tucson. I had become recently enamored with aromatherapy and essential oils, and found myself creating custom intuitive blends for myself and my clients. I fell in love with Vetiver, and created a blend around the grounding element in that oil. I began getting compliments when I wore it, and it became my signature scent Smoke. The idea to batch it up and launch it as a perfume was born of my intersection of aromatherapy and creativity.
WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT SCENT IS SO IMPORTANT REGARDING HEALING? WHAT MAKES IT SO THERAPEUTIC?
One of my favorite aspects of scent is that it gets us to inadvertently breathe in and out deeper. Activating deep diaphragmatic breaths massages our vagus nerve which stimulates our nervous system to let go and relax. So, to me scent and wellness are intricately connected because I believe that consistent deep breathing is one of the best things we can do for our well being. This is where my passion for natural perfumes comes in too, because you are then breathing in the aromatherapeutic benefits of the volatile oils in the natural ingredients, which also has an effect on our mood.
HOW DO THE SCENTS FROM SMOKE PERFUME DIFFER FROM OTHER SCENTS, AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO LOOK FOR A SCENT THAT’S FREE OF SYNTHETICS, HORMONE DISRUPTORS, DYES, ETC?
As I mentioned, one thing I love are the therapeutic benefits of the natural ingredients themselves. In addition to that, choosing a natural scent is important becuse what we put on our skin gets processed through our livers and absorbed into our bloodstream. We don’t fully understand the effects of these chemical ingredients in our bloodstream, but we do know they may have the power to disrupt our delicate endocrine system, trigger allergic reactions and put stress on our livers. I believe choosing natural perfumes and skin care is important because in our modern lives we are already faced with a deluge of environmental toxins. Why not limit that exposure where we can with our makeup, skincare and personal fragrances? Smoke Perfume products are committed to being made with only plant-based ingredients that are free of synthetics for this reason. Artistically, it is my personal preference to create using naturals…it’s an exciting challenge!
YOU RECENTLY COMPLETED A COURSE IN BREATHWORK TRAINING. WHY IS BREATHWORK SO IMPORTANT WHEN IT COMES TO GREATER WELL BEING, AND HOW ARE YOU COMBINING YOUR PASSIONS FOR SCENT AND BREATHWORK?
Personally, I started practicing breathwork in January of 2018, and it has been one of the most valuable and deeply healing modalities I’ve ever experienced! I have never found a tool that works so deeply and so effectively in such a short amount of time. I have been in the healing arts for over 10 years, and I feel incredibly excited by this modality! It was a natural step to study it deeper and learn to facilitate. Breathwork releases stuck emotions, old stories and even physical pain. I believe we must “feel to heal,” and we must bring up, process and release old wounds and traumas. This has been the core of my own healing work and something I’d like to bring to my clients, too. As I mentioned above, I see an intimate connection to breath and scent, and am excited to keep exploring this connection. In general, I like to think of my product line as an extension of my healing work. While it’s not the same as my hands-on clients work, I hope it inspires people to slow down, tune in and practice self-care. I hope that these products can affect greater awareness and a shift in perspective. I think there’s a lot of room to grow in these areas, and I’m excited to keep exploring it all.
HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY FOCUS ON MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT WHEN IT COMES TO OVERALL WELL BEING? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR MORE ABOUT YOUR OWN PRACTICES AND ROUTINES…
For me, the holistic connection has always just made so much sense! I feel it’s obvious that the mind, body and spirit are all connected, and I feel the imbalance when one is off. I like to keep it very basic and simple. I think we tend to overcomplicate everything. But really it’s as easy as: are you hydrated and drinking enough water? Are you sleeping well and enough? Are you eating right, getting movement, taking quiet time to meditate or journal? I am way more apt to tend to my wellness if it involves simple, basic rituals I can weave into my every day life.
YOU DO SUCH AN INCREDIBLE JOB OF MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS, AS YOUR PRODUCTS ARE FOUND ALL THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES. WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR SUCCESS THUS FAR?
Smoke has always had great word of mouth, and a loyal and wonderful customer base.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WOMAN LAUNCHING AND RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH SOMEONE WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT?
Cultivating the confidence to run my business, and to run it the way I want to and know how to, was a journey. Learning how to step into this role having been a self-taught woman with no prior experience was not easy. Over time, it’s gotten much better as my confidence has grown. I think there’s a lot of pressure to run businesses a certain way. Letting go of expectations that don’t work for me has been important.
WHAT’S THE SCENT YOU TEND TO GRAVITATE TOWARDS ON A DAILY BASIS AND WHY DO YOU LOVE THAT PARTICULAR ONE?
I tend to wear Smoke the most, or any formula I am currently working on. Smoke is just “me,” it’s such a comforting and familiar scent for me, with so much personal history!
BESIDES SCENT, WHAT OTHER TOOLS HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE MOST HELPFUL IN YOUR OWN HEALING AND SPIRITUAL JOURNEY?
Breathwork, sobriety, meditation, psychedelics, time in nature, sleep, my biomat, movement, herbalism, travel.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ENERGIZING RITUAL?
Exercise. Hydrotherapy. And I love my mini trampoline! It gets my lymph and blood moving, and it’s pretty fun. It always makes me smile!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WIND DOWN, CALMING RITUAL?
I love a hot bath with lots of epsom salt. I also don’t ever skip my skincare ritual at night. Something about the ritual of washing my face with a cleanser and hot washcloth and massaging in a good oil always sets me up to wind down.