Abel Odor’s Frances Shoemack on creating innovative natural fragrances

Abel Odor

Frances Shoemack, founder of Abel Odor. Image supplied.

Abel Odor‘s founder Frances Shoemack is on a mission to disrupt the fragrance category, recently launching the brand’s Parfum Extrait range which offers natural, alcohol-free, highly concentrated parfum made from therapeutic-grade essential oils. The new fragrances are made at the brand’s Wellington Fabriek (Dutch for factory) and are designed to be dabbed on pulse points for  a restorative scent experience. Abel Odor see it as a modern evolution of the classical extrait de parfum and this approach has self-care, ritual and intention at its core, which makes it an entirely new category in its own right.

The brand is known for their innovative approach to fragrance with this new offering as much about the therapeutic power as it is about the power of the fragrance. The new scents are based on the fragrance profiles of Abel’s known and loved Vita Odor eau de parfum collection which allows the beauty of the rare and exquisite ingredients the brand uses to be enjoyed by the wearer. For the Parfum Extrait range the unique therapeutic value of each scent shines through; Pink Iris for calm, Green Cedar for vitality, Cobalt Amber for comfort, White Vetiver for energy, Cyan Nori for joy, Golden Neroli for balance, and Grey Labdanum for strength.

“Scent can have an incredible impact on our emotional stability and sense of wellbeing. We’re seeing Abel wearers seeking to lead more balanced, attuned lives, and within that, scent becoming a part of their daily wellness ritual – something they do for themselves, not for others.” says Frances Shoemack.

Abel’s collection of unisex scents are 100% natural, biodegradable and vegan. The brand’s fragrances are available through a select network of stockists worldwide and online. In keeping with Abel Odor’s renowned focus on sustainable production, Parfum Extrait customers can also return their bottles to the Fabriek to refill.

We caught up with Frances to find out more about her love of fragrance, how the brand go about creating natural fragrances and what her tips are consuming beauty products responsibly?

When did you first discover your love for fragrance?

Like many people I remember creating “perfume” from flowers in my mother’s garden as a child (my son Arthur does the same today). From an early age I also loved to cook and experiment with (natural) flavours and ingredients. This all led to a first career in winemaking and subsequently morphed into Abel Odor when I realised a 100% natural perfume that could compete with the world’s best didn’t really exist.

Where did your research begin for creating natural fragrances and what is the process like?

I was frustrated when I couldn’t find a natural perfume that was modern, chic and long-standing, but also frustrated about the lack of understanding and awareness, of course spurred by a lack of industry transparency. At the time (ten years ago, living in Amsterdam) you could buy beautiful natural skincare and make up, but never a natural perfume. When I first started researching, I came up against a lot of “it’s not possible”, which really just meant “it’s hard!”. Finding amazing allies, like our master perfumer Isaac Sinclair, who really got our vision was the first step. As the interest in the category grows, so too does the investment into developing new plant-derived ingredients and even industry by-products. Our perfume will only get better and better as natural science continues to boom, which is really exciting.

Abel Odor

Abel Odor’s Parfum Extrait collection.

Can you share some insight into the philosophy behind your brand?

There’s no labelling requirements in the perfume world and as a result, very few people realise what’s in their perfume bottle. Most are disturbed to find out their conventional perfume is basically a toxic soup. More than 95% of fragrance ingredients are crude oil derived (because these chemicals make perfume cheaper and easier to make) and therefore not biodegradable in the ecosystem. I don’t think any of us really want to be spraying petrochemicals into the environment!

Because it’s unregulated, very little testing happens in perfumery also. Of the 20% of ingredients that have ever been tested, many have shown to be endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic. This doesn’t mean all perfume ingredients are evil, but at Abel we really believe you deserve to know what ingredients you’re putting on your skin.

Our mission is to create the world’s best 100% natural perfume – beautiful fragrances that leave no trace of toxic chemicals on your skin or sprayed/washed off into the environment. Because we have a 100% natural philosophy, we are always honest about our ingredients and happily label our products – we hope it sets an example for better transparency in the industry.

How did you go about creating your new Parfum Extrait fragrance collection, and how would you describe them?

Early on in the pandemic we realised that our customers were no longer wearing our fragrances for how they smelt to others, but for how the scents made them feel. A pretty cool development really, given that our perfume is packed full of therapeutic grade essential oils. The extrait line was conceived to answer the question ‘what would happen if we put the wellness aspect of the fragrances first?’. Each one has it’s own wellness benefit, be it Pink Iris for calm or White Vetiver for energy. They’re potent, alcohol-free and intimate to apply – and in a cute little 7mL, they’re such a beautiful scent companion to your day.

How would you describe your personal style, and how does it influence your brand?

You can probably guess from our packaging that I’m a minimalist by nature! I love having a small choiceful wardrobe that is super functional, easy to style and unfussy. Like my perfume, I want to wear my clothes, not have them wear me. Also like my perfume, I want my clothes to be made using natural fibres with the full lifecycle in mind. My husband will attest to the fact that I’ll happily justify a beautiful but expensive purchase by ‘price per wear’!

What do you think we should all be doing as individuals to consume beauty products more responsibly?

Only buy what you love (try it first!). Use what you have. Support brands who are producing ethical products – ingredients, supply chain, packaging and people. Support brands who are transparent and will answer your questions.

What are your goals for the future?

The clean perfume category is really just starting to blossom around the world so it’s a super exciting time for us! We’ve got really exciting innovation and R&D plans led out of our Wellington Fabriek all around sustainability, green science and community. Globally, we’re got really exciting plans in our international markets.

Abel Odor

Images supplied.