I Thought I Invented It

I Thought I Invented It

In the mid 70’s, like all good hippies, I went on a 6-week road-trip with my Mom in a VW microbus camper to California and back. I found the first scent shop I had ever seen in Dallas, TX. That shop changed my life! The smells were wonderful; the colored oils in glass decanters with pipettes for dispensing were a sight to behold! I bought at least six samples including patchouli, and so-called rose and jasmine (synthetic, as I discovered later). I mixed various scents together, patchouli and rose one day, patchouli and jasmine the next; and I observed how people reacted. This helped me define my own trademark scent that I still wear to this day.


I gave scents to my friends and family. I remember my brother D began first by scenting his fiddle case with patchouli, then it became his scent that he wore for the next 40 years. Another friend had been given a blend of vetiver/patchouli and I became obsessed with that too. I made perfumes, and perfected my famous personal scent. My own scent left a trail where I went; people would say I knew you went to the library on campus when I smelled you on the door after I opened it. Once at a party someone said I was at the airport on a particular day as they had smelled me in the elevator. At first I didn’t know what they were talking about. Later though, I remembered I had taken my Mom to the airport to fly home after a visit; sure enough I had been in the elevator at Tampa Airport that day in October. My scent followed me wherever I went and became a signature for who I was and who I would become.


Once I had my massage license (1979), I began adding oil blends to treatments and I saw that more intensely deep relaxation and occasionally psychological miracles occurred. I really thought I was onto something, wondering why anyone hasn’t anyone done this before?. “Surely this could be something big,” I thought. I understood a new potential and began an earnest quest for more information and more oils.


I ordered patchouli and “musk”- at the time really popular scent from Kiel’s pharmacy in NY, and begin to locate oils at the local food co-op, early health food stores and “head” shops.



I found advertisements for essential oils in the herbal magazines, as aromatherapy slowly entered the US through the door of herbalism, and the natural health movement. Many of the first teachers were herblists such as Jeanne Rose and Mindy Green and of course Colleen Dodt.


Odd that today, many aromatherapists are moving back into herbalism, wishing for a deeper understanding of the traditional medicine, and wanting more info on the plants these oils come from. With that in mind I have asked another well known herbalist to help create a course for our students, so watch this space!

Featured Pioneer: Colleen Dodt

Featured Pioneer: Colleen Dodt

By the mid-80s, I started to realize that that I was not alone in my practice with essential oils. Colleen Dodt was working quietly away up in Rochester Hills, MI having been recognized in her own right by 1987. Her company, Herbal Endeavours, had started up the year before, but she had already been promoting aromatherapy in the herbal industry for some time.

Colleen Dodt


In 1987, Phyllis Shaudys opened her book Herbal Treasures with Colleen’s work on aromatherapy. She called Colleen a one woman pioneer in aromatherapy and said that Colleen had been “very gracious to those who turned deaf ears to her in the early days” and apologized to Colleen for having ignored her.


Colleen was called the “crazy herb lady” for many years and pioneered the use of gems in oils for personal blends. She coined the term “scent wagon,” as in everybody getting on it. Having gone to the UK to see Robert Tisserand in December 1986, she then was the first to bring the Tisserand line of oils here to the US. She first brought Robert Tisserand to Baton Rouge, LA, and Detroit, MI. She also first brought Marcel Lavabre of Aroma Vera (see photo) and Anita Roddrick of Body Shop to Ann Arbor, MI., and Jeanne Rose as guest speaker to Rochester Hills, MI.



She wrote two books: The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for Mind & Body (1996)  and Natural Baby Care (1997). Finally she was the first American and first woman author in the International Journal of Aromatherapy, Vol.1, 1988, called “Aroma What? Americans May Not Know it Yet But They Are Heading for a New Revolution.”8326_164305418973_892755_n(1)


I consider Coleen to be another very early Pioneer Vintage Aromatherapist, deserving of recognition and honor for her contributions to the field. Many people know nothing about her. She got lost in the years to follow and is now making a come back. One thing I have seen happen is that once the internet started up and many who jumped on the internet with lots of marketing became well known, while others with less resources and skills got left behind. She is one who did not get a big flashy website and marketing; her books was translated and sold all over the world with no compensation to Colleen. Now she is known again, and my dream is to see her course online, she is not done yet! I thank her for coming to St. Pete to be honored.




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!