After many years of work and research in the cosmetic perfume industry, Amanda Stevens realised that perfumery had ‘lost it’s spark to a world of mass-production’. So in 2020 she gathered her knowledge and collection of botanical extracts and launched Australian lifestyle and skincare label Rewild Co.
Based on the wild coast of South Australia in a historic building from the 1840s, Amanda has since created signature scents for cult status properties and established an ever growing following of her work. We caught up with Amanda to ask her about her decision to move her life from Victoria and set up a slow space far away where her business dreams have become a reality.
Photo: Lean Timms
Tell us about your background… What conjured you to the world of wild perfumery?
It started over 20 years ago with a chance meeting of a vivacious Perfumer, some formal training and my love grew from there. As did my botanical extract collection which now fills most walls in my studio.
After spending time working for international cosmetic companies, I realised that the world of perfumery had lost it’s spark to a world of mass-production. Scent should be an individual experience, born from the trade itself and the art of creation.
I spent years researching, learning, and practicing. Perfumery had been my hobby for so long but it was the gorgeous Sarah Andrews from The Hosting Masterclass, who was my biggest cheerleader, and the one that whispered, “the world needs to see you”. At that very moment I decided that I needed be the change I so desperately wanted to see in the world. To go against mass production and to give the power to the individual to create their own scent based on their own story.
“…it was the gorgeous Sarah Andrews from The Hosting Masterclass, who was my biggest cheerleader, and the one that whispered, ‘the world needs to see you.'”
“The ingredients I use are the most premium in construct and are cruelty-free, animal-free (yes this still happens unfortunately. Check your perfume!)”
Scent, like art, is adored or disliked through the eye (or in this case the nose) of the beholder. How would you say that sense of smell is linked to our memories and how does this influence your creations?
Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb and often go straight to the limbic system, the part associated with memory and emotion. Creating a complex Signature Scent with around 30-60 indistinguishable individual notes that is less likely to have been experienced before, gives the opportunity to create a new memory.
To create a scent linked to your hosted home/brand and yours alone, it is important to avoid off-the-shelf products or a scent of just lavender or just geranium. These will conjure up memories for guests of OTHER places they have stayed or memories of their Nanna maybe.
Signature scents CREATE emotions and memories. Off the shelf scents arouse OLD emotions and memories.
Photos: Lean Timms
Tell us about the ingredients you use in your perfumes?
The ingredients I use are the most premium in construct and are cruelty-free, animal-free (yes this still happens unfortunately. Check your perfume!), ethically grown or wild harvested and no preservatives. I also believe in using glass vessels as opposed to plastic ones.
Ingredients range from the petals of the flowers, to leaves, root systems, resins and even citrus peel extracts. I can have one part of the plant but up to 5 different variations of this. Black pepper is a beautiful ingredient and the supercritical carbon dioxide extraction method will have a different aroma to the steam distillation method, or the hydro-distillation method – so I keep 3 different black peppers which all smell just slightly differently. And Himalayan Cedarwood is very similar but ever so slightly sharper than Cedarwood cultivated in Morocco. The varying chemical compounds make for very distinct aromatic creations.
Which is your most popular perfume blend and why?
I offer Scent Design but I also make small batches of my own scent range. ‘Wildflower’ is every one’s favourite. It doesn’t smell like any one thing, more like a barefoot whirlwind romance in a field of wild flowers. It is romantic, vivacious and all-encompassing. I have curiously asked customers why they like it and it’s always the same response. “I don’t know, but it just smells incredible”.
‘Haze’ is a close second. There is definitely a strong Haze community out there. One person commented, “don’t you dare stop making this, ever”. I had to laugh. There are some very passionate scent-lovers out there.
“‘Wildflower’ is every one’s favourite. It doesn’t smell like any one thing, more like a barefoot whirlwind romance in a field of wild flowers.”
We love the work you’ve done with Sarah Andrews of the Hosting Masterclass. For those people who aren’t aware, how does creating a signature scent for hosted homes and other similar businesses work? Can you give some examples of some of the projects you’ve worked on?
Sarah really does appreciate and teach how each property can find their own voice and story. And I feel Scent Design is a necessary part of this. To create something that is true to your brand, story and only yours. It’s like when people commission a piece of art for their home, hosted home owners are commissioning me to create a scent for their place. Something that will make it come to life, to fit perfectly and to weave this into it’s existence and the mind of guests.
Ingrid and I worked together on a Signature Scent for Whale Song Shack back in 2019 and everyone that experiences it, becomes besotted by it. The scent represents those very special elements that makes her place different than the rest. When you inhale this scent, you can see those incredible pastel sunsets, the way the scent carries is as gentle as a whale’s song, and the lightness of the aroma reflects the height that the property sits at to overlook the ocean. There is nothing like it anywhere in the world. And when you experience that scent, it takes you back to Whale Song Shack.
Simpson Cottage, a home steeped in history and in a unique location between a national park and the sea. We strived for something lighter to compliment the grounding and secure sandstone walls of the house. Tara valued summer days and sunsets at her place and the very nature of the scent speaks to this.
Whale Song Shack
Your studio in SA looks so intriguing. Can you tell us about it and how you came about living and working from there? What is the building’s history?
After living in the mountains in Victoria for 18 years, we made the shift to South Australia. After property hunting for less than a day (I think it was in the first 10 minutes of searching), I stumbled across this home which had a separate studio on the same property. I met with the owners who had lovingly restored the house and saved it from demolition.
The studio is the oldest building in the area evident by the fossils in the walls. Used as the original blacksmith rooms, saddlery and horse stables for the limestone coast area. That was back in 1840-something. The building still has all the markings of this time covering the walls and the old chimney and hearth. After this, it stayed vacant for a period of time until a chocolatier made it his own. He created a cult-favourite chocolate recipe in here and I swear some days I walk in and can still smell fudge in the air.
After we purchased the property, I renovated it for my working Perfumery Studio. It is such an inspiring place to be and where I do my best work. Surrounded by limestone walls with the echoes of birdsong just outside, towering native gums and being down south, everything is so green. It feels alive.
How does your ‘slow space’ tell the story of ‘slow living’? How does your business ethos weave into your daily life?
Slow living is a way of existing in this crazy world that is fulfilling and connects you to others in a meaningful way. When I was creating the studio, it was important that everything in here has a place and a use. There is nothing in here that doesn’t need to be here, It is rich with authenticity and character.
The ingredients themselves fill the space, not overflowing shelves of imported products. There are areas within the space that are for “doing”. I have my desk for writing and researching, the armchair for reading and my workbench for creating scents. The bespoke cabinetry is for housing the small batches I make or the scents ready to be posted out. Everything in this space is a part of bringing the scent to life in a way that is not mass produced.
I chose to fill the studio with artisan-made or second-hand goods. The towering cabinets were made by local carpenter Chris Anderson, referencing my love of Japan and simple lines. The blackboard was also handmade and designed for all the daily math and note taking, a far better option than staring at a screen.
“This is a slow space because it represents how the scent is made by hand and details that journey.”
Can you tell us about your personal practises when it comes to slow living?
Slow living to me, is defined by purpose, attention, meaning and connection.
I rise early to greet everyday (anywhere between 4-6am) when thoughts are my own. Slow living is paying attention to and valuing the process. My home is filled with artisan goods, some handmade, some made by friends and some second-hand and on their third life. I choose this way because I am creating a world I want to live in using my choices as a tool for change.
It promotes and adds value to trade, skill and I think we need more of that. It also breeds individuality.
We need more of that in this world.