Natural Notions-Label talks to founder Tonia about her muses, motivations and making the switch to natural scents

1 What inspired you to launch IME?

About 10 years ago, I was working in television as a Production Manager and at the time I could feel a change was happening, and not in a good way. I’d just finished working on a production feeling deflated and uninspired. My husband and I had a three-month European holiday of a lifetime planned, and it was here that the idea for IME was sparked when we were walking through the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence. I realised that all the beautiful paintings on the walls were of women that had itty-bitty titties, pot-bellies and curvy hips – these were the Muses for the most famous painters of all time. I wanted women (ok, me) to embrace their beauty and passion for life again and I thought the best way to do that was to inspire a change; the Muse idea just came from that.
Fast forward five years to 2012, skipping a burnout/nervous breakdown, leaving TV, becoming a reflexologist, moving to the Illawarra and the birth of our first bub, the idea surprisingly bubbled to the surface again. Having been a natural therapist for most of this time now, I knew the impact that sensory stimulation can have on people’s lives. The sense of smell (via the olfactory nerve) is directly linked to the part of the brain that stores our memories and emotions, therefore stimulating an emotional response can affect moods.

2.What goes into the traditional perfumes we buy at the department store that we nedd to be aware of?

Most mass-market fragrances that you see in department stores will still contain ingredients such as colours, phthalates, parabens, artificial and animal ingredients. No different to those harsh harmful chemicals you find in [many] skincare and cosmetic products. These are never going to be listed on the package as, legally, it’s not a requirement, but I would definitely be steering clear of most celebrity perfumes or cheap massproduced labels you find everywhere.

3 What are IME perfumes made from?

I wanted to keep things as simple as possible with our formulations because essentially, it’s going on our body, and then into our body. We only use 100% botanical extracts and essential oils sourced from around the world for the scent part of the fragrance and a pure alcohol (grain) that we source locally from a third generation family run Australian company. The biggest ingredient of a perfume is the alcohol. Because this makes up the bulk of a fragrance, minimum 80-85% – making sure this was as pure and clean as possible was important. We use an un-denatured pure alcohol which means there hasn’t been any toxic chemicals added to it to render it undrinkable or had solvents added to help preserve and solubilise the scent part of the final fragrance. Un-denatured is simply a botanical material (cane, grape or grain) that has gone through several processes of fermentation and steam distillation. By keeping it clean you eliminate other chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, adulterants and artificial dyes that you really should avoid putting on your skin.

4 What process did you follow to become certified 100% natural by the Natural Perfumers Guild?

The Guild is the only international organisation dedicated to 100% natural perfume. Their standards for certification are the highest in the world regarding the use of natural ingredients, I’m so proud of this certification. President of the Guild Anya McCoy, a professional
natural perfumer for nearly 30 years, said we met the submittal requirements in an exemplary manner, much better than most!
In order to get certified I had to submit samples of all our perfumes, a list of all the botanical ingredients used in the perfumes, and a list of the names of the suppliers we use. This information was then reviewed by the NPG Review Committee who used their years of experience in sourcing, vetting materials, and evaluating perfumes to make a decision on the perfumes and whether we met the requirements of what it means to be ‘natural’ in order to meet certification standards. And we did!

5 How do you construct fragrances?

All perfumes are constructed with three distinct layers. They are a carefully constructed set of layers known as notes. Top (head) notes – are your initial impression of a perfume, they dissipate quickly and are usually made of light, fresh and uplifting ingredients, like lemon, orange, pink grapefruit and peppermint. Middle (heart) notes – make up the body of the fragrance, these notes emerge as the top notes fade and are usually floral, warm and soft notes. They also soften the first impression of the base notes as they emerge, like lavender, geranium, chamomile and clove. Base (bottom) notes – are rich and deep and form a strong foundation for the perfume layers to be built upon. They last the longest and help ‘fix’ the lighter notes, extending their evaporation process. The middle and base notes form the main fragrance of each perfume. Given that we don’t use a synthetic fixative to hold the fragrance, these notes are integral to the longevity of a fragrance also, like sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla and cedarwood.

6 Tell us about the nine IME muses. Why was it important to create so many options within your range?

IME natural perfume is a brand Based on the nine Muses of Greek Mythology. Each fragrance is designed to capture the essence of these inspiring goddesses in order to inspire a change. You don’t feel the same every day – our philosophy is about mixing things up; inspiring you to change the way you feel, think and act by using the power of scent. You can smell yourself happy – naturally.
We aim to create a positive change through a holistic experience to achieve a happier and healthier state of wellbeing. So, whether you choose your Muse, mood, colour or scent, the magic is in the mist!
If you need a little strength to power through your day, then kalliope [driven] is your gal – strong, courageous and brave. A very grounding earthy scent. Match this with the colour red and you will be unstoppable! Or if you want to feel a little more confident and creative, Euterpe [cool] will give you a lift with her lively fresh, fruity scent. Think of the colour yellow and your step will have a little sass to it rather than a stroll.

7. Where would you like to see IME in the next 5 years?

Available worldwide and to everyone! Our vision has always been to be a positive source of change within and bring happy back into the world. It’s important to me that everyone should have the opportunity to make those little steps to change (and smell great while doing it!), and not just those who can afford it. So I will do everything I can to create the best quality natural fragrances while maintaining value for money.

Shop to choose your muse.