Spicy aromas enable a lifetime job dream
Audrey Malone's series on Timaru people who have flown the coop for bright things continues this week with her interview with Frances Shoemack.
A lifelong desire to be in the scent industry and a grounding in whole foods and organics led a former South Canterbury woman to create what might just be the world's first 100 per cent organic perfume.
Frances Shoemack always wanted to be in the perfume industry, but growing up on a farm in South Canterbury, going to Paris or Milan seemed like a pipe dream.
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Shoemack describes her mother as wholesome, they were encouraged to eat whole foods and do activities such as yoga.
Since she believed perfumery to be off the cards, Shoemack studied viticulture at Lincoln before taking on a graduate role at Villa Maria in Auckland.
She found she really enjoyed the wine industry but not the making of it, so took on a marketing and events role with New Zealand wine growers.
After eight years in Auckland working in the New Zealand wine industry, Frances and her then fiancee moved to Amsterdam, where she decided to change industries.
"To be honest, at the time all I had been doing was wine. I had wine contacts there, but unless you speak Dutch fluently it is hard to get into," Shoemack said.
She also thought it was a nice chance to take a break from the industry, and got what she thought was a great job working in marketing for the United Kingdom arm of a marketing company.
It was then she realised if she was not passionate about the product then marketing did not hold any appeal for her.
However, not enjoying her role was what led her back to her childhood dream of perfume.
"I had this awakening. I had noticed I could get organic fresh produce, make-up and skin care, but perfume I was unable to find," Shoemack said.
Along with her husband, she started focusing on creating an organic perfume. She found other organic perfumes on the market, but none contained 100 per cent organic ingredients.
And so began the adventure of making, what is now known as Abel perfumes.
The first decision was the name.
Shoemack said she had always thought Abel was the name for multiple reasons.
She believed Abel was an empowering word, the first European to discover New Zealand was Abel Tasman, who also happened to be Dutch, and a nod to her Catholic upbringing with Cain and Abel - Abel being the good brother.
She then enlisted a perfumer, who was given an autumn inspired direction.
Using an organic alcohol, the perfumer compiled a scent of 11 organic essential oils that contained top notes of cloves, black pepper and bergamot.
"It is a scent that is really nice for men and women, and it changes depending on who is wearing it. We say its a fragrance that is made to smell good on your skin, not on paper."
The creative process and insisting on being fully organic led to an unusual point of difference.
The ingredients are less consistent than non-organic products, and as a result there is not the consistency in the scent, so each time a new batch is made up they call it by its vintage number.
"Initially we thought, no it has to smell the same, then we thought no it doesn't. With wine we celebrate the different vintages, so why not do it with perfume," she said.
Over the past six months, Shoemack and her husband have been busy launching the perfume in different countries.
The scent has been launched in Holland, Germany, the United Kingdom and now in New Zealand.
Although the reviews are positive, Shoemack said she still has fears at every step of the process.
"If you can't face your fears then you shouldn't go into business."