Bespoke Bridal Gifting: How Essential Oils Can Make Your Wedding Unique
Rachel Leonard Sat down with Sahaja Essential Oils creator, Sahaja Douglass, to find out about how her custom-made scents can make a wedding truly memorable on a whole new level.
1) Describe your company, what do you offer?
My company, SAHAJA Essential Oil’s, is an artisanal company, offering people the highest quality organic, therapeutic grade essential oil blends. Every blend is formulated by me, and hand-poured with love, into beautiful Italian bottles. All SAHAJA blends are created with the dual purpose of having an exquisite fragrance and supporting wellness. All of my blends can be worn and diffused, and the range of wellness benefits include feeling more relaxed, emotionally balanced, alert, peaceful, sensual or stimulated depending on the SAHAJA blend.
2) How did you get into essential oils?
I have always been interested in “the natural state,” which incidentally is the definition of the sanskrit word, SAHAJA. After grad school, I became a licensed psychotherapist, and although I felt that “talk therapy” was valuable, it was also a slow process. I was curious about complementary ways to support health and happiness, which I had been exploring in my personal life. I had developed a strong yoga and meditation practice and was regularly using essential oils for everything from relaxation, improving my concentration, sleep, mood elevating—even balancing my hormones! I loved wearing and diffusing the essential oils in my collection and began sampling as many as I could from various companies. I studied with aromatherapy experts, learned about the distillation process and the variations in quality and purity—all of which influence the fragrance of an essential oil and how effective it will be from a wellness perspective. I fell in love with essential oils and gradually began making my own blends from the highest quality essential oils I could find; I used them with my family and gave them to friends. The feedback about my blends was so positive that I decided to start a business so I could offer them to people on a much larger scale—and it was getting expensive to give them away!
Now, two years after selling my first relaxation blend called CHILL, my line has expanded to 32 essential oil blends and most recently I created essential oil wedding blends for brides, grooms, wedding parties and guests. I have always loved weddings—I had so much fun planning my own! But I wish that I had worn a custom essential oil fragrance at my own wedding so that every time I smelled an element of it, I would immediately be transported to memories of my wedding day.
3) How big is the essential oil market?
The essential oils market in the United States, which is currently the largest essential oils market globally, is valued at over $4 billion in annual sales. The essential oils market is expected to increase to more than 10 billion in annual sales by 2022. It is one of the fastest growing markets, with expansion of 8.8% annually.
4) Where do you make your artisanal blends?
I make my artisanal SAHAJA blends in my studio located in Topanga Canyon. I live in the mountains on 10 acres overlooking an expansive canyon on one side and mountains on the other. Since I live in Southern California and my windows are often open, I hear birds, coyotes, dogs, peacocks, horses, goats, wind chimes and water cascading down a fountain as I create and pour my blends. Although I grew up in NYC across from the Whitney Museum, I am a solid mix of museum maven and mountain dweller.
5) What type of ingredients are in your oils, what is some of the magic they do?
All of my essential oil blends are made using the highest quality organic, wild-crafted and therapeutic-grade essential oils that I source from around the world. I chose farmers and distillers that grow plants and distill them using sustainable practices. My essential oil blends effect the mind and body, evoke memories, stimulate emotions and help people relax and feel more alert depending on the blend. The olfactory bulb (the cluster of cells and nerves responsible for our sense of smell) connects to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and emotion, so all of my essential oil blends impact those key elements.
When I first create a new blend, I have a goal for how I want the blend to support clients. Then I make sure the fragrance is gorgeous. For example, I recently created a bridal blend for a beautiful, young woman named Priya, who loves Frangipani. She is a very spiritual and adventurous person who met her husband at a yoga and meditation program. For Priya’s wedding blend, I started with Frangipani EO (essential oil) as the main note and added Indian Sandalwood EO to evoke memories of India and also for the physiological sensual and calming aspects of Sandalwood. Sandalwood is a tenacious base note that will provide further longevity to the fragrance. I added Clove EO or sweetness and I love how a little bit of Clove creates an exotic vibe while boosting the immune system. I also added Cedar Atlas because it is such a relaxing EO and most brides need a little help relaxing on their wedding day! The blend reflects the exquisite nature of the bride. The groom’s blend is a great complement to the bride’s as his is a mix of Indian Sandalwood, Sweet Orange and Cedar Atlas. Woodsy with the uplifting element of the citrus. Priya’s blend evokes exotic, adventurous, sensual femininity and her finance’s blend evokes an earthy, strong, sensual masculinity, befitting the Olympic swimmer that he was. I absolutely adored creating theses blends for them.
6) What is the difference between essential oils and traditional fragrance?
Essential oils are the aromatic volatile compounds of flowers, trees, and plants and when they are organic, therapeutic-grade high quality essential oils, they are supportive of physical health and emotional balance. They are most often steam-distilled from parts of the flowers, plants and trees. They are precious and potent. It takes the petals from 60,000 roses to make 1 oz of rose essential oil. That’s approximately 60 roses per drop of rose essential oil. Pure, organic essential oils are absorbed into the cells via the skin and nose and can help us feel relaxed, happy, and mentally clear and physically decongested. They can also nourish our skin, boost our immune system, ward off insects, and create a warm, welcoming environment. The production of organic essential oils provides livelihood for indigenous people and helps protect the environment.
Traditional commercial fragrance (i.e. that you find in perfume sections of department stores, pharmacies, and airports) is made from an undisclosed mixture of various synthetic chemicals and ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group which studies and reports on how beauty products effect our health, “traditional fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.” These fragrances are potentially harmful to those who wear them and to the environment.
7) How do you see SAHAJA Essential Oils integrated into the bride and her wedding?
The process of working with a bride, and often groom, on creating a signature essential oil bridal scent can be an integral part of planning their wedding. Scent is imprinted in our memory and every time we smell something we have an associated memory, so if a bride and groom (or groom and groom/ bride and bride) want a memorable wedding day, having a signature custom SAHAJA Essential Oils blend can contribute to creating a beautiful, unique wedding. A great way to create continuity throughout the wedding is to have fragrant aspects of the bride’s EO blend in the wedding diffuser blend which can be set-up in bathrooms, the entry room, bride’s “getting ready room” and even paired with the blend of her beloved. A fantastic gift for the wedding party or all guests depending on the wedding budget is to give them bottles (15 ml or mini 2 ml) of the custom wedding blend. The bottles can have a custom sticker commemorating the couple and the wedding. The bottles can be paired with a diffuser and set up in the hotel rooms for the wedding party or just wrapped beautifully.
8) What is the wedding blend?
The SAHAJA Wedding Blend is a melange of organic, therapeutic grade essential oils blended together to create a beautiful, compelling fragrance that supports the bride and those around her physically, emotionally and mentally. That is the power of essential oils!
9) How do you figure out the custom blend for the bride or couple?
When I create a custom blend for a bride, I meet with her to get to know her and get a sense of the wedding she hopes to create. I ask about her favorite flowers, look at photos of the wedding dress, get a sense of her core values and also the values of her fiancé. If she comes to my studio in Topanga, I will ask her to smell single essential oils and a variety of blends in my line to get a feel for what scents appeal to her. If I am creating blends after talking with her on the phone, I create five sample custom blends, send them to her and she chooses her favorite. Sometimes even the favorite blend needs to be adjusted a little so it is just right.
The process for making a diffuser blend for the wedding is the same, but it needs to be tested in an ultrasonic diffuser, which I sell or can be bought on-line or at most natural food stores—essential oils and diffusers are now pretty mainstream—they have come a long way from the hippy association to patchouli at Grateful Dead concerts.
10) What are the price points?
I have price points for every budget. Buying a wedding blend from my pre-existing collection which is featured on my website ranges from $36 for the least expensive diffuser blend to $96 for one of the bridal blends. Creating a custom wedding blend ranges from $675-$975 depending on the essential oils we use (for example Rose and Jasmine will be more expensive than citrus oils or some of the wood oils, so it depends on how much of a specific essential oil is in a blend). If the bride wants to have additional bottles of the wedding blend made for the wedding party or guests, I charge the wholesale price per bottle, so that specific price is dependent on the price of the essential oils in the blend. Creating a custom label for bottles or custom silk-screening onto a bottle is an additional cost. Creating custom blends for both the bride and groom ranges from $1,075- $1,675. Before I create a blend I discuss all the needs and costs with the bride, groom and/or wedding planner so the scope of my work and the costs for the wedding couple are clear upfront. I work hard to keep my pricing fair for my clients and sustainable for my business.