IN PARTNERSHIP WITH ORB OILS
HANNAH COLE LYRICS
Breaking down olfactory barriers and creating scented bonds.
Typically, the perfume world is imbued with an air of lush opulence. It’s smooth and perfect, with ball gowns and fields of dreamy flowers. Like Emma Smith, co-founder of the Australian perfume brand Orb Oilssays: “It’s Nicole Kidman on the Eiffel Tower”.
It’s Manhattan’s elite thing (or that candlelight dinner a year), and for most of us, it’s a far cry from our daily lives. It was this realization that prompted Emma and her business partner, Stacey Pinchbeck, to launch their own line of fragrance oils.
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With a background in communication and creative direction, the duo decided to take that elitism down a notch. The result is Orb Oils, a genderless, asexual line of fragrances designed for everyday use.
What does it mean to be a fragrance without gender? Emma and Stacey return it to me: why are perfumes gendered? It’s only because we’ve been told that rose is feminine and smokier scents are masculine; history has assigned them a gender. Instead, Orb Oils wants to break down those barriers and remove prescribed connotations.
Releasing a range of five genderless fragrances was a back-and-forth process of elimination with local chemists. Anything too feminine or too masculine was out. The resulting oils are proudly non-specific and all-encompassing, appealing to all genres and uses.
Removing this labeling allowed Orb Oils to create unique personalities for each fragrance – a new approach to identification and a practical guide to online shopping. the lenny the scent likes “a good red” and “everything after midnight” (Stacey’s favorite with hints of bergamot, orchid and vanilla); River prefers a “pure margarita” and hates “social media influencers” (citing fragrance notes of amber and cedarwood). It’s fun and ironic, but also extremely relevant.
It wasn’t until COVID hit that I think many of us began to understand the paramount importance of scent. Of all the senses, none can evoke memories in the same way. With the fear of losing these precious points of contact and connections with other places, people and times, the power of smell is finally being recognized. For me, the aromas of spring, freshly cut grass and a specific coastal morning bring immediate joy.
These scents transform my day before it even begins. When I spoke to Emma and Stacey, it was abundantly clear that they felt the same way. At the end of the day, we all have a connection with perfume, recognized or not. That’s why each Orb Oil is designed for multiple uses – dab it on the skin, diffuse it, add it to your bath or laundry (or their new use of dropping it into the air vents of the car).
The pair encourages “owning” a personal scent where friends know you are simply because they detect the subtle sandalwood notes of the Policeman oil, for example. We embody the fragrance and bring it to life. When I ask about their defining scents – those that evoke important memories or nostalgia – Stacey and Emma are transported back to their respective childhoods.
Stacey remembers the smell of a box of fresh tennis balls, evoking her father, while Emma notes the urgent spray of heady perfume to mask the smell of cigarette smoke when her aunt arrives. It is a journey through time and space.
Personally, it’s on my to-do list to become famous for an iconic (positive) fragrance, and I know I’m not alone in this dream. Or maybe we’re the embodiment of a plethora of scents, using a specific Orb oil and scent to alter the mood and match the tasks at hand.
At the heart of the brand is also an unwavering dedication to sustainability. Each oil is blended and packaged in Melbourne; the ingredients are clean and natural, free of chemicals, parabens and other harmful products. It’s the packaging that really impresses, though. Emma and Stacey searched for recyclables every step of the way, right down to the glue that holds the box together.
“It’s a mixture of flour and water,” they tell me, because it’s the most sustainable solution they could find. The glass droppers used to apply the oils and the rubber stoppers are the only inputs that are not recyclable (yet). But, instead of giving up hope, Orb Oils encourages users to save their dropper and buy a refill bottle to keep it. “We had to feel comfortable [introducing a brand]“, says Stacey, so everything is taken into account.
It’s an exciting time for fragrance fanatics. With Orb Oils on the scene, there is an opportunity to purchase a beautiful, memorable product without the environmental impact and excessive packaging. There is a chance to break down the restrictive barriers that separate genres and attribute predictable and uninspired scents.
And it’ll only be easier to fully embody your chosen flavor as Orb Oils prepares to launch more everyday use products this year, with the same thoughtful approach. How will you be remembered?
To learn more about Orb oils, visit here.