In conversation with Alanna Quin.
Alanna Quin’s home is the perfect match to her sunny, serene disposition. Golden light poured through her windows, hitting all of her Indian perfume bottles, remnants of her vast Indian voyages, vials of perfumed oils; refracting reds, ambers, golds and every other shade of yellow across the room.
INTERVIEW BY ONDINE PURINTON-MILLER
As expected, it was like submerging yourself in a womb of scent. Think, the purest Nag Champa, direct from India, Tuberose as red as blood. Of course, I could expect no less from a perfumer. Ayu is a transformative, authentic company, its roots in Ayurveda, producing perfumes that I can confirm get heads turning and people drawing closer and closer just to comprehend the intoxicating aromas. It’s much more than just scent, utilising “nourishing oils and Ayurvedic herbs” blended into the base of each perfume.
Ayu has created something that is healing on so many levels. Scent is transcendent. Its such an intimate and powerful tool to evoke emotions, to wear it and allow it to merge with your own pheromones, becoming an heirloom of memory, emotion and nature. Ayu has produced just that, and Alanna (or Lanny as she’s signs off our correspondence) has imbued her knowledge, kindness, consciousness and heart into every bottle.
Alanna; what is your quest in this life?
Definitely trying to find some kind of balance between family, work and following my own interests.
When is the time when you’ve felt yourself to be most powerful?
After giving birth to my beautiful baby daughter. Absolutely nothing can prepare you for what lies ahead. There's nothing more powerful than Motherhood and knowing that a life I've created is my responsibility to help shape and nurture a soul.
I see perfume as an artform, there is so much both physically and spiritually in creating a scent. Where do you source your magic from?
From India's ancient and traditional system of healing, Ayurveda. Ayurveda, which translates from Sanskrit to mean 'Science of Life', is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems that is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit. I've been studying it for a new years now, and am constantly reading about it. It's also what the creation of Ayu was inspired by.
At what point did you realise you wanted to follow the path you’re on now? What did that process entail for you?
A trip to India with close friends a few years ago now, including my now business partner Madeleine. We both have a shared fascination with Ayurvedic medicine, having both studied it and we've always liked blending our own scents with different oils. It kind of came about while we were there and the conversation slowly turned into reality back home when we were both keen to pursue starting Ayu and see where it went. We work so well together and bounce off each other, I couldn't ask for a better partner.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was spent outdoors and by the beach for the most part. I was definitely an adventurous, spirited young thing. If I wasn't outdoors I'd spend hours with my head in books reading.
As an a clearly innate creator, how do you stay in your passion and remain inspired?
By travelling and reading, you can never do enough travel or read too many books.
When did you decide and become inspired to work with all that is olfactory?
After travelling through India, which has some incredible perfumers whose business has been passed down from generation to generation. Visiting these places and seeing old crystal bottles filled with family recipes of incredible scents was pretty inspiring. I've always liked the way a scent can completely transform the way you feel and can bring a multitude of emotions, just from one tiny drop.
I am endlessly fascinated at how scent has the ability to trigger memories and emotion. What is your favourite scent, and why?
It would have to be either amber or rose, which are both quite nostalgic for me. Amber reminds me of a scent my Mother used to wear when I was really young, and my Grandmother used to have a beautiful rose garden in the front of her house and she'd always send me home with a bunch of freshly picked roses from the garden.
Do you have an intention with each of your creations? How is it that you can imbue that in to each of the Ayu oils?
Our intention is to produce a scent that not only takes into consideration the scent to make it appealing and hopefully bring the wearer positive associations to it, but that also combines the knowledge of balancing the mind, body and spirit through the various nourishing oils and grounding Ayurvedic herbs that we blend into each perfume's base.
To date, what has been the biggest catalyst and driving force for what you do?
We found it hard to find a long lasting perfume oil that didn't smell 'herbal' and so we decided to create out own. It was hard to find something that wasn't alcohol based. Our studies in Ayurveda was also a major driving force in creating Ayu.
Humans are so self-deprecating, sometimes we need an external voice to really allow us to see who we truly are. How would your friends describe you?
“Laidback, grounded, loyal, easygoing, ambitious.’”…as answered by my friend Carly!
What is your latest obsession?
Our latest scent, Carnal, which is tuberose and vanilla based. It's a rich floral and smells incredible!
I can totally vouch for it smelling like heaven…What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Life is too short, don't wait to do something you want to do.
All the women we’ve interviewed have an infectious smile or laugh, you included. What makes you laugh?
My family and friends!
This one may be obvious, but what is your proudest moment?
Motherhood, and watching my baby grow into a beautiful little soul.
Is there a moment when you feel your most authentic and connected version of your self?
Meditation has been a really positive influence in my life and definitely grounds me.
It's always important to be free and not shackled by rules or dogma…in saying that, what is one rule that you live by?
Not to worry about something that hasn't happened. It's taken me a while to get to this!
Interview by Ondine Purinton-Miller
Photography by Matisse Ruby