Liz Cook has had an inspiring impact in the natural cosmetics industry over the past 20 years. In 2009, Liz launched ‘ONE SEED’ - a natural perfume brand, from her studio in Adelaide. Her extensive knowledge and experience in this space has led ONE SEED to be an evolving success, with the idyllic natural scents being sought-after not only in Australia but across the globe too.
We sat down to chat with Liz and dig deep into the world of natural perfumes, the importance of ditching synthetics fragrances and what inspired her to take this career path in her mid 20’s.
Our entire skincare range is formulated with 100% pure natural essential oils, and we’re so excited to bring Liz’s wealth of knowledge to you in this interview!
Can you tell us a little more about your beautiful brand One Seed?
Sure! ONE SEED is an organic perfume company, making beautiful 100% natural perfumes that smell like real perfume. We launched in 2009 as the first natural perfume company in Australia, and one of only a handful worldwide at that time.
Our range currently includes eleven eau de parfums, three skin serums and our new home fragrance collection, Laundrette.
You’ve had a huge influence on the evolving landscape of natural perfumes over the past 18 years, what inspired you to take this journey?
I’ve been working in the natural cosmetics space for almost 20 years now, but I have adored natural health and beauty and product development since my early teens. I launched my first business in 2001 when I was 25: a retail store specialising in natural skincare and custom-blended beauty products and aromatherapy. We grew to 3 stores in Adelaide within 6 years, and when I sold the company in 2007 I had already started speaking with customers who were bringing in their mainstream perfumes asking if we could custom-blend something similar with natural ingredients. I could see there was a big gap not being recognised, so when I sold the company I sold everything except for the 3 perfume formulas I was working on.
I spent the next 18 months deep-diving into everything I could learn about perfumery and ingredients, and we launched in May 2009. To be honest, people weren’t really ready for natural perfumes back then, so we definitely launched ahead of the curve and a few years too early. But I was so passionate about stepping in to fill the gap with a product that was beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing and transparent in its approach. The mainstream perfume world has been shrouded in secrecy pretty much forever, and completely saturated in a sexual culture, and I wanted to create a brand that was something of the antithesis of what commercial perfumery was (and still is). Transparent, smart, 100% natural, and focused on inspiring and enabling people to reconnect with themselves and the world around them.
Why should we choose natural perfumes over mainstream perfumes?
Because they do no harm. Synthetic fragrance is strongly implicated in many health issues, including infertility and other reproductive issues, diabetes, depression, migraine, early onset of puberty, some cancers, thyroid dysfunction and others. Choosing a perfume that is 100% natural is safer for your health, and also for the planet - 50% of air pollution is now caused by synthetic fragrance! And toxic ingredients such as synthetic musks and phthalates bioaccumulate and are causing major issues for fish and amphibians in our waterways.
… This is a topic I could talk about for hours!
Aside from the health and environmental issues, natural perfumery pays homage to the natural environment in a way that synthetic scent never can. It is complex, unpredictable and inexplicably beautiful, and works with each wearer’s biology to produce a scent that is unique to each person.
We would love to hear more about how natural essential oils can have an impact on your emotional wellbeing, can you delve into this?
Essential oils are made of various combinations of natural chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred molecules in the one extract, each combination a unique individual expression of that plant. These chemicals produced in plants are known as secondary metabolites, and include aromatic compounds such as monoterpes like geraniol. For example, rose absolute is known to have around 400 individual natural chemical components (one of which is geraniol). Each of these chemicals serves a purpose within the plant, such as growth, reproduction, self-defense and communication between plants or between species.
Plant secondary metabolites mirror our own human hormones, neurotransmitters and enzymes, demonstrating the incredible biological compatibility between humans and plants. It is this biocompatibility which allows plants to have such a profound effect on our health. In human health, plant secondary metabolites play a large role in disease prevention and health promotion, providing such effects as improving mood and physical performance, protection from oxidative stress and managing inflammation.
Aromatic plant extract such as essential oils interact dynamically with the body, both physically and psychologically, and rapidly enter our bodies, whether through inhalation of a natural perfume or essential oil, or topical application in a lotion or oil for example, where they cross the blood-brain barrier into the hypothalamus, causing the brain to release neurotransmitters - chemical messengers that help improve our mental and physical well-being, reduce pain and help us think more clearly, to name just a few benefits. Synthetic scent just doesn't have that capacity.
Practising self-care every day is so important to our brand, do you have any tips on how perfumes can play a part in our daily self-care rituals?
Natural fragrance is powerful, and works on both a physiological and psychological level. Natural scents can help you feel how you want to feel - elevated, grounded, soothed, nurtured - and we can utilise natural fragrance extracts to help our body and mind get back into balance.
Scent is a communicator and connector and a modulator. Our sense of smell tells us when the world is safe or not, and has a very powerful effect on our state-of-mind. When you do use perfume as part of your self-care ritual, make it natural so your body and mind respond favourably and without stress or inflammation, and give you a sense of safety and nurture. Gently diffuse essential oils while you watch a movie or clean the house, burn a natural candle when you have guests over, add a beautiful natural scent to your laundry, and finish off your outfit with your favorite natural perfume. And savour it every time. Let scent be a way of caring for yourself, your home and your family.
I also believe it is important we have time without adding scent so that we use our sense of smell to reconnect with the world. After all, smell is the first sense we develop in utero, so we have been understanding the world around us with our olfactory system since day one. If we drown this out by constantly using fragrance I believe we miss out on vital learning and connections. So don’t use fragrance every day, all the time. Go for a walk and crush and smell the leaves, hug your kids and smell their skin, sit outside and take in the aromas of your environment and allow your body to learn.
At a time of the year when many people are focused on Valentines Day and showering others in love, what’s your advice for practising self-love?
I think we confuse self-love with self-obsession these days. To me, self-love is about acknowledging your unique value as a human being, paying attention to the quiet messages your body is sending you, and learning to love and appreciate every aspect of your unique self. Self-love is not selfish. It does not put the self first at the expense of others, or demand its own way.
Self-love means valuing yourself as much as you value others. It requires regular time invested to get to know yourself and be quiet with yourself. Most of us forget how to love ourselves, especially as we get older and have kids and families. Take time to get to know yourself again and treat yourself with kindness and gentleness, like you would with anyone you love and value.
Let’s gain insight into your morning ritual, what does it look like and does it shape the rest of your day?
I’ve become a super early-riser in the past 3 years. I’m usually up by 5am. I do my best and most focused work in the morning, and I have been known to have my whole day finished by noon. But because I have a tendency to work too hard and ignore my need for quiet time and stillness, I choose differently most days (unless I’m on a deadline). I will make a cup of tea and drink it slowly outside watching the sun come up and listening to the birds in the trees sing their morning songs.
I have started to do simple 5 minute specific meditations in the morning, but I’m not naturally that way inclined. I would much rather lay on the grass and look at the clouds moving - that’s a better meditation for me.
Some days I enjoy watching NBC News (for some reason watching the news from another country feels more relaxing and less stressful!), then I will look over my to-do list for the day, organising my desk so only today’s tasks are in front of me, then get started on emails.
I dont turn on my phone until 8am (and it goes off by around 8pm).
I have one coffee a day, usually around 9am, an oat or goat milk cappuccino, and I add lion’s mane for energy and immunity, and marine collagen for the skin benefits and the protein.
I have to be very deliberate with my mornings as my mind is active the second I wake up, and am naturally energetic and raring to go at that time. I am an information-seeker, and so I want to be informed and learn all the time, and my mind tells me being slow or unproductive is wasteful. But I am teaching myself to be slower - move more slowly, breathe more slowly, think more slowly, and take action on one thing at a time. It’s a challenge, but getting easier the more I practice.
What’s your favourite Retreatment Botanics product (if you can name just one)?
I love the Restore Serum - which makes my skin feel baby-soft and plump and the Kakadu Brightening Serum as it makes my skin softer and clearer and more refined. I have a few products and I especially love the scent of all of them - so gentle and calm. I get a real sense with Retreatment Botanics that the products are taking care of me - it feels more than just skin deep.