Featured Pioneer: Christine Malcolm

Featured Pioneer: Christine Malcolm

In the summer of 1989, I attended an aromatherapy class by perfumer Christine Malcolm of Santa Fe Botanical Fragrances. Christine has deep roots in the perfume industry. Her career began in 1970 in the research and development area of the fragrance supplier industry.


She worked for several major companies including International Flavors & Fragrances, Givaudan and Florasynth progressing through various positions in the industry from laboratory technician and quality control evaluator to creative perfumer. In 1987, she founded her company Santa Fe Botanical Fragrancesbecause she saw that there was a need for perfumes and toiletry products to be created with authentic botanical ingredients. She is among the very first pioneers in the return to naturals with aromatherapy and botanical fragrances and helped start the current natural perfumer movement long ago. In spite of this title now being claimed by late comers, Christine may well have been first.


She has given presentations on aromatics and perfumery via platform and workshops over the years. As a freelance journalist, she wrote articles for magazines that featured aromatherapy, botanical perfumery and olfactory perception.



Christine also wrote a chapter in the book titled The World of Aromatherapy which you can read here in her BLOG. She has created some wonderful VIDEOS on the extraction of oils, bottles, and more on her site.  Enjoy the process of harvesting and distillation of flowers. Learn about the history and evolution of fragrances and how their containers were linked with the fashion world in the early to mid 1900’s. there is also a GLOSSARY of fragrance terms that is very informative.


During that first meeting with Christine, I smelled orange blossom absolute for the first time, and of course never forgot it. Years later I realized neroli essential oil is not that scent, yet from the same flower. The early absolute haunted me until I finally got some. Of course, I was transported back to that first class! Christine helped me realize putting an oil blend on moist skin, preferably out of the shower when the skin is wet or from a hydrosol is “making cream” on your face, because cream is an oil and water mix. She still offers facial moisturizers, essential oil blends, perfumes, and colognes. Thank you Christine for your contribution to my development as an aromatherapist and to aromatherapy as a whole.


Christine Malcolm in the Rose Fields

Featured Pioneer: Gerri and Pat of Natures Symphony Inc.

Featured Pioneer: Gerri and Pat of Natures Symphony Inc.

The same year I opened my salon Rumors, Natures Symphony Inc. opened in Boca Raton, FL. It was one of the first true aromatherapy stores in Florida and has been a pioneer in the field of Aromatherapy in the US for since its beginning.



The company was formed by a French medical doctor, William Amzallag, and Gerri Whidden in 1982. Pat Ashford then joined Gerri to create one of the first and most complete aromatherapy stores on the east coast that is still in business. They attended many conferences and we had wonderful times together in the aromatherapy adventures. When I sponsored a lecture day with special guest Maggie Tisserand they came and showed their wares. 


Pat, Gerri, Sylla, Emilee Stewart, Lisa Fulmer, Maggie Tisserand, Cynthia Haas, way back in 1990’s hosting Maggie Tisserand in Tampa.


They were the best source from oils to bulk supplies, skin care, books and all things aromatic. Their shop is still located in the heart of Boca Raton. Do stop in if you are near.


Recently we met up in St. Pete with Shellie Enteen and many others. (Sylla, Shellie , Pat, Gerri). they were two of the 5 that received the Pioneer Vintage Aromatherapy awards, and I am so thankful they came here for the presentation.

I taught basic aromatherapy there with them for quite a few years and watched as Natures Symphony became the aromatic presence in South Florida for the last 30 years. Gerri has been directly responsible for the education of over 30,000 students in Aromatherapy. She is recognized as a leading aromatherapy expert and has been invited to lecture at seminars in the USA and internationally. 


Besides sponsoring Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy teachers Martin Watt on medical aromatherapy and Robert Pappas on chemistry, they also brought quality education to Florida early on by sponsoring leaders in aromatherapy including in 1989 the first east coast two-day seminar with Robert Tisserand. This seminar included a class with Colleen Dodt, a sometimes forgotten pioneer of aromatherapy in the US. Stay tuned for more information about Colleen.

Visit their website http://www.nsaroma.com/.

Featured Pioneer: Emilee Stewart

Featured Pioneer: Emilee Stewart

Let me tell you a little about Emilee Stewart, my first live aromatherapy mentor and friend.


Emilee is from London, and was inspired to pursue aromatherapy by the Micheline Arcier treatments she recieved in Knightsbridge. She trained at the clinic and got an International Diploma so she could practice in the USA. Having married a soldier from NC, she moved to Raleigh, and opened the first aromatherapy salon possibly in the entire USA during 1974, right after I left Raleigh for Florida. This was pretty brave to go to conservative Raleigh and open a “spa” in a grand hotel downtown. I sure wish I had stayed there to meet her then, but I had moved on. Her spa was cutting edge, and attracted the rich and famous of the city, she has created a wonderful book for her grandchildren and I hope to share it here one day.


By 1986, Emilee had started her business near me , having set up and run the exclusive spa called Private Universe in downtown Winter Park, Florida. I first saw her ad in a massage magazine from our state association and immediately looked her up, and drove over to see her. She inspired my new appreciation of aromatherapy with the best facial ever! She helped me see the work as a “treatment” not just a massage or facial, and shared her oils and blends, products and perfume bottles. I was so delighted to meet a real aromatherapist, and to share what I had found out thus far.

1989 IMG_0470


We became great friends, travelling to many of the California conferences and supporting each others’ aromatic journeys. She created her own blends for face and body, had a line of products, and imported rose oil and rose hydrosol. Michael Alexander and I went over to visit her once upon a shipment arrival and we had a blessing ceremony to make it “healing” oil as we opened and decanted it! That was the best rose I had ever smelled before, probably because it was the first time I had smelled the real thing. I cherished it. The smell of Bulgarian rose today takes me back to that time.



She also held a mini conference with Victoria Edwards among others and contributed to The World of Aromatherapy, a collective account of 35 of the women active in Aromatherapy at that time in 1996. Since the early 1970’s Emilee has continued her practice using aromatherapy for skin and body, creating her blends, teaching classes, sharing her knowledge by training many new aromatherapists along the way. she still does a few special clients and recently joined us in St. Pete for the conference. If you come to Winter Park Florida please try to meet her. She needs to be honored as an early USA Vintage Aromatherapy Pioneer!


We attended our first class together in 1989 when Nature’s Symphony hosted a seminar with Robert Tisserand, whom I had met in California at the first American Aromatherapy Association in 1988, and Colleen Dodt, a delightful herbalist/aromatherapist who deserves her own blog page!