Terra Flora – A New Perfume

Introducing Terra Flora, my first perfume in collaboration with Wild Olive Artisans.  100% synthetic free, Terra Flora’s precious ingredients have been chosen to calm, uplift and balance.  


It’s not what you achieve or build in life that’s important, but rather the perfume you leave behind.  (A priest said this at my father-in-law’s funeral and I always thought it to be a very beautiful metaphor)


I have always been fascinated with perfume.  As a child, the beautiful bottles that stood on my Mother’s and Grandma’s dressing tables appeared to me as magical golden elixirs – potions containing the scent of the most important women in my life.  I would try to make my own versions by collecting rose petals from our garden and soaking them in water, then dabbing the resulting slimy, brownish water with panache behind my ears.

As a teenager growing up in the 80’s, it was the overpowering ‘Giorgio of Beverly Hills’ that was adored by every middle-class housewife.  Its pong lingered along supermarkets aisles and department store hallways.  It was a scent that defined a decade, it was instantly recognisable but its popularity became its downfall.  I even remember seeing something on the news that restaurants in London had banned customers from wearing it.  I remember thinking how funny it was that everybody wanted to smell the same. 

In the 90’s, minimalistic, mass-market perfumes evolved, aimed at younger customers. Calvin Klein’s CK One, Eternity, and Issey Miyake’s, L’Eau D’Issey were affordable and their slick advertising campaigns made them hugely popular.  In my late teens, we all wore the same few fragrances.  They were a badge of honour, a uniform scent for our generation.  But I never enjoyed these perfumes. I bought the odd bottle, more due to peer pressure than genuine desire, but I never felt they settled well on my skin or that they enhanced my experience of being a woman. 

In the mid 90’s, I trained as a massage therapist and began working with essential oils.  The result was that I enjoyed conventional perfume less and less.  Becoming accustomed to the natural aromatics of essential oils, mass-market perfumes smelt toxic to me, so I went without.  But, I missed the ritual of putting on perfume and would search department stores and perfume boutiques for one that suited me, but each time the first hopeful spritz turned to the same disappointing, sour, chemical smell.  How I wished for a signature scent that could be uniquely mine, something that would cause people to comment, “Wow, you smell great!” And ask, “What perfume are you wearing?”.  A Perfume that was natural, non-toxic and that I would want to wear every day and every night.   

By the time I had reached my 30’s, I had discovered a few specialist boutique perfumery brands that did not jar with my skin and nose.  For my wedding, I wore Les Nuits d’Hadrien by Annick Goutal and was regularly wearing perfumes by the French brand Diptyque. However, both these brands still used synthetics and my search for a natural based perfume continued.

I stumbled across Wild Olive African Artisans in Cape Town when I was looking for a local perfumer to make a signature perfume as a gift for my husband’s birthday.  Meeting with Marioara De La Tara, Wild Olive’s in-house perfumer, was an enlightening experience.  Her perfumes were like nothing I had experienced before.  Working only with natural ingredients, Marioara taught me how these oils worked differently.  Our bodies are able to recognise natural molecules and can benefit from their powerful properties, unlike with synthetics where our bodies take much longer to identify and process those molecules.  This is one of the reasons why synthetic fragrances appear to last much longer, or that we are able to smell them for longer on our skin. 

Through working closely together on my husband’s project, Marioara and I got to know each other well and one day, out of the blue, she came to me and declared that I had become her Muse!  I was delighted to have found an olfactory sparring partner, and we immediately began to discuss the possibility of creating a new perfume.  What if we could create a natural perfume that could positively alter the way you feel?  Having been a fan of exercise and healthy eating since my early teens, and having taught Pilates for over ten years in London, I had first-hand experience of the benefits of adopting a mindful, clean-living lifestyle and how it had improved my own, as well as my client’s, psyche and wellbeing.  Was it possible to create a perfume that could complement this way of life, that could ground and balance your emotional wellbeing?  Was it possible to create a perfume that you would want to wear in your yoga class and also out to dinner with your boyfriend, a perfume that could enhance your experience of life?  A perfume with a purpose?

So Marioara set to work on my brief – it was a tall order.

– To create a 100% natural, non-toxic perfume that would make the wearer feel grounded, centred, balanced, calm and uplifted at the same time.

– To create a perfume that could be worn in a yoga class, or to a party, and that wouldn’t alter if the body got hot.  A perfume to wear day or night, suitable for any season.

– It should be unisex, classic yet modern.

– It had to smell wonderful.

A few years later and our perfume is now ‘ready to wear’!  We have named it ‘Terra Flora’.  The name is partly in homage to my mother whose last name was Flower.  

Terra Flora is both exotic and familiar, warming yet refreshing, elegant and modern.  I have been wearing it for nearly a year and I have had many people come up to me and ask, “What is that perfume you are wearing?”.  I have worn it to yoga classes, to parties and out to dinner with my husband.  Terra Flora is the most extraordinary perfume I have ever worn.  I can’t imagine being without it and I am now so excited to be able to share it with you.


The base-note and largest component of Terra Flora is Sandalwood, a material first used in India for spiritual ceremonies where it was used because of its quality of being able to ease the pathway to enlightenment.  A powerful mood booster and with many healing properties, Sandalwood was the obvious platform to support some 13 other exceptional natural oils contained in Terra Flora’s formulation.  

Marioara also added Frankincense, known as the godfather of perfume as it was first used by priests and holy men who believed it helped them communicate with the gods.  It has the ability to slow down breathing and to have a soothing effect on the mind.

The two most powerful mid-note oils used in the formula are Orange Flower Absolute and Jasmin. Both have exceptional properties including the ability to balance emotions, diminish anxiety and move you into a calm space where self-confidence is enhanced.  

For a top-note, Marioara used Petitgrain which is extracted from the leaf of the orange tree.  This exquisite oil calms anger and panic and is known to ease insomnia.  Marioara also added Mandarin oil for its ability to settle the nervous system and to regulate the metabolic processes of the body.  Lime and Bergamot are there to soothe frustration and to refresh the spirit.

I have often overhead Marioara claiming that, “Once you start using my perfumes, you won’t be able to go back to synthetics”.  I am certainly a convert.  Terra Flora is an entirely different olfactory experience and one which I hope you will try, enjoy and love as much as I do. 

You can purchase Terra Flora at Wild Olive African Artisans, 29 Pepper Street in Cape Town, +27 (0) 201 422 2777.  For International/European orders please visit www.wildolive.eu