While Medwin and I were still living in Bali, my father came to visit us and, to my surprise, asked if he could take my soap workshop. It shouldn't have surprised me because he does, after all, come from a family of artisan makers and crafters: In the 1920s my great grandfather started a little shop in the foothills of the Himalayas and drew in the foreign missionaries by offering them homemade cheese, peanut butter and jams. My grandfather and uncle still run the store, which has had a loyal following for almost a hundred years.
During the workshop, when it came time to choose which essential oils to scent his soap with, my father seemed perplexed. He picked up each bottle, sniffed it, and then put it back down looking unmoved. Until he reached a little bottle whose label had peeled off. "What's this?" he asked, perking up. It was vetiver. Ah, vetiver. Earthy, rooty vetiver. In India they call it khus and make fans out of its grassy blades, whose scent is fresher and greener than the oil, which is distilled from the roots. We decided on a blend of vetiver, cedar, and bergamot for my father's soap that day, a blend that is so perfectly him it actually twinges my heart a little when I smell it.
When I was developing scent collections for Bloomtown Botanicals, I knew immediately I wanted that earthy, woodsy yet somehow fresh scent to be one of them; and that's how The Woods was born. For our soap bars, I paired it with natural illite clay to achieve a gorgeous, glassy green color.
It's certainly a scent that women adore as much as men, so I wouldn't call it "masculine," but aren't we sort of past that kind of limiting categorization, anyway? We've had men at markets and fairs fall head-over-heels for The Hedgerow (blackberry & honeysuckle--a scent inspired by another special man in my life), The Cafe (a rich Coffee & Hazelnut with heavy notes of vanilla), and The Grove (blood orange & pink grapefruit with notes of bitter rind and fresh green leaves).
But the one that takes me back to sunny mornings perched on my father's lap while he read the newspaper is The Woods. Happy almost Father's Day, Papa.