Avid surfer Brook Havey-Taylor founded Pacifica in 1996 to put her training in aromatherapy to work and share the scents from her travels. Now, the company boasts a line of over twenty fragrances that can be found in candle form, perfume solid, body creams, soaps and sprays. Pacifica is based in Portland, Oregon and practices carbon neutrality and cruelty-free production. The products are vegan and do not contain any animal ingredients, including beeswax.
I had the opportunity to speak with Brook and discuss natural fragrances. I have long enjoyed scents and as far as senses go, smell is one of my most adored, but these days I am hesitant to use any scents or oils that are not necessarily safe. What does it really mean to be safe or natural? Is there such a thing as truly organic perfume? How are natural ingredients such as patchouli and sandalwood being affected by the vast cosmetics and beauty industry? Brook thinks about these things and was happy to share some thoughts.
KJA: How natural is Pacifica and what does this mean to you?
BH-T: For Pacifica, I never claim that we are 100% natural. I use as many natural materials as I possibly can. My goal is always to create a safe and sustainable product, an ethical product, and an affordable product. At our company we provide a 401k and viable health and dental insurance plans to insure our workers are treated well. Our factory in Oregon is virtually waste free. Everything is recycled into candle production or donated to local women’s shelters. We use local box manufacturers for packaging the products and local printers which is quite rare. The only component of our products that is made overseas are the tins for our perfumes and some of our glass, though we are trying to find local suppliers. We are really focused on keeping the business viable and local. As a company we try to look at everything we do as whole.
KJA: So, are your ingredients organic?
BH-T: When it comes to the issue of natural or organic fragrance you have to be really careful in your language. Even essential oils contain synthetics at times. There are arguments against 100% natural – you are using water, land, affecting cash crops – and social issues come into play hugely. It’s coming more to the fore now, especially with palm and sandalwood (clk here for more info on this topic.) Our western craving for all things natural can be extreme.
As a perfumer and fragrance designer I try to maintain the balance by being aware of what is potentially dangerous and what is not. I use naturals wherever I can. When naturals are not viable I will use some non-natural materials to make the best product we can make. We do not use phthalates, petrochemicals, triclosan, nitro-musks, benzene or DEP. All of our packaging is recyclable and comprised of recycled content. We are committed to applying our vision in every way possible to make Pacifica a company that holds true to its values.
Within the Pacifica line, Tibetan Mountain Temple, my favorite, is an earthy, citrus, patchouli perfume that is mild. The citrus, woodsy smells are my favorite. The new solid perfumes are especially unobtrusive, and light on the skin, containing organic soy and coconut wax. The other favorites are Sandalwood, Blood Orange, Bali Lime Papaya and Waikiki Pikake. The solids are reasonably priced and fun to layer. Thank you, Brook!