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!



Early stirrings

I grew up in North Carolina in the 1950-60s and moved to Florida in early 1970. At that time I didn’t know aromatherapy had started with Gattefosse’s work, followed by Valnet’s book Aromatherapie which came out in France. Then  Marguerite Maury, an Austrian biochemist, began teaching in Paris and London in the 1960’s. In the 1950’s, Marguerite Maury pioneered the beginning of modern or true aromatherapy – the use of essential oils for the promotion of holistic well-being. While she was working with a surgeon in Alsace she read a book: Les Grandes Possibilitiès par les Matières Odoriferantes, by Dr Chabenes (published in 1835). The author later taught R.M. Gattefossé, one of the founders of aromatherapy. The book became Marguerite Maury’s Bible.

Through Maury’s years of research and practical application, she discovered the value of the active zone aromatic particles and recorded the effects with scientific probity. She lectured and gave seminars on the subject throughout Europe and opened aromatherapy clinics in Paris, Switzerland and England.

Madame Maury felt that the external application of essential oils by way of massage could be especially beneficial, and she established the first aromatherapy clinics in Paris, Great Britain, and Switzerland, and studied the rejuvenating properties of essential oils. She developed the early massage techniques from which today’s aromatherapy derives. Her treatments were initially designed for skin rejuvenation but her clients reported many additional benefits such as better sleep, pain relief and general well-being. Such results inspired Madame Maury to pass down her ‘hands-on’ knowledge to a select group of aromatherapy students at her private practice in London.

Maury trained many students including Daniele Ryman, who became her protégé, or “spirit child,” as she says. Early in her life Daniele attended the Institute des Beaux Arts in Paris. She met and became the protégé of the legendary pioneer of aromatherapy: Marguerite Maury, working with her in research and development in both the Paris and London clinics.

I was privileged to be the spiritual child, pupil and disciple of Marguerite Maury. She inspired and changed my life. I have continued her work for over 30 years. She possessed some of the eccentricities of genius, but she was also one of the most generous and lovable of women, a magnetic and charismatic person. She was a veritable whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, working ceaselessly until quite literally she died on the 25th September 1968. Her last manuscript was found beside her bed. It began: ‘The aromatherapy involved in cosmetology can lead to the most extraordinary of results. -Daniele Ryman


Visit her site here.


I recently communicated with Daniele and she informed me of her new book on her memoirs with Maury called The Gift. She also recently found a movie that Maury made when her book Le Capital Jeuenesse originally came out in French in 1961. Daniele republished in English as Marguerite Maury’s Guide to Aromatherapy, The Secret of Life and Youth in 1989. She has never been here to the USA and I think that we need to correct that and bring her here in the near future, before she is gone too.  You can find a taste of her expertise in her “Aromatherapy Bible, found here.

Other students who studied with Maury, include Wm. Arnold-Taylor who created the ITEC programs in the UK, and Micheline Arcier, one of the very few people to work at her pioneering salon and to be trained personally by Marguerite Maury. Micheline Arcier studied and worked with Maury and Valnet and their combined techniques created a form of aromatherapy that is now used around the world. She opened a clinic in London and taught many early aromatherapists. Sadly, she and her daughter have passed away but you can read her story here.

One of Arcier’s students was Emilee Stewart. I will focus on Emilee on the next blog as she may be the first USA first Pioneer Vintage Aromatherapist.