The New Noses: Tatiana Godoy Betancur of Olear
The New Noses is a series on independent perfumers (and those who design scents but hesitate to call themselves perfumers) who came upon the craft the unconventional way: who aren't French men, heirs to perfume empires, or trained in prestigious fragrance schools. Today’s conversation is with Tatiana Godoy Betancur—founder of Olear, an olfactive studio based in Brooklyn.
ON HER WORK IN SCENT AND ITS “AFFECTIVE POSSIBILITIES”
“I refrain from calling myself a perfumer, as that title feels too restrictive for what I pursue within the world of aromas. However, I’ve been working on designing scents and aromatic experiences for five years. I had been working with essential oils for dermal healing of scars and acne when I decided to take an introductory aromatherapy course at the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. While taking classes I started to become more interested in how aromas connect to our memories and emotions, and also in the overall healing potential of plants. This was during a time of deep transition for me, when facing my dad’s terminal cancer and, soon after, his death. Working with botanical aromas became a supportive and healing method to use on myself and my father. Aside from helping soothe my emotions and support me in embracing that specific moment, scent became a way of connecting to the memory of my dear father’s transition.
Affective is a term used in psychology to describe that which relates to moods, feelings, and attitudes. English is my second language and I often feel like I don’t know the words to express what I want to say, and I certainly came across that when figuring out how to describe the work I do. So I turned to a friend who helped guide me to affective, and it was fitting as my work intends to address and support moods, feelings, and attitudes. “
ON WHAT SHE WOULD CHANGE ABOUT THE INDUSTRY
“I see a pattern of people not being in harmony with the scent they decide to purchase and apply on themselves. This may be because they are buying trends and often the illusion of someone else’s look/vibe. I’d like us to move to a place where the act of choosing a scent for yourself means that you test it ask how it makes you feel, if there is harmony.”
ON WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM OUR SENSE OF SMELL
“As I further my exploration in the world of aromatic plants and olfaction, I’m thinking about the importance of emphasizing not just the healing power of plants, but also the potential knowledge we can acquire from our sense of smell. This is a practice I’m encouraging in the workshops I lead, as it is clear that the majority of people today are very removed from their own sense of smell. Unfortunately, being part of a society that places much importance on the visual, we seem to get further from tapping into the olfactory for the gaining of information. Also, many of us grow up in societies and environments where we lack connection to nature. The more removed we are from nature, the harder it is to recognize its energies. I believe and recognize that all of our senses can provide us with information and that using olfaction to guide us can be a significant tool when working with botanical aromatics.”
ON EMOTIONS AS PROCESSES, AND HOW SCENT CAN CONTRIBUTE
“I visualize water tides when thinking about emotions. Making this association is a way to witness the potential within emotions, as well as their transitory essence.
Olear, ola, olea, onda, are all Spanish words that relate to waves and the ocean. I landed on Olear, meaning the making of waves, because of its resonance with action. It’s a verb, not passive, not still. Often we get stuck in a feeling seeing no end in sight, when the reality of it is that the feeling is not permanent. Botanical scents can help us create waves within our waves, or simply connect in a way to honor them and witness them become something else, allowing us to shed the passivity that very often arises with many emotions.”
ON THE SPIRITUAL QUALITIES OF HER WORK
“The work with aromatic plants and my nose has informed my ritualistic, spiritual and meditative practices. They now support and inform each other, but I definitely think that openness to my own spirituality came from my journey with essential oils.
As I began to address my own energy imbalances using the chakra system, I was inspired to work with essential oils for support. Chakras by my friend Rachel Day, is a guide to using color therapy glasses for balancing the chakras. Spending time with this book influenced me to begin thinking about the naturally occurring colors of essential oils to inform me of ways in which to use them for the chakras. I began formulating synergies for each chakra thinking about not only the energetic and chemical properties of the oils I used and how they would support the balancing of each chakra, but also about how to use the colors of the individual oils to make the color associated with each chakra.”
ON TAKING THE TIME AND SPACE THAT IS NEEDED
“Since my mother’s passing in December, I’ve needed to take much of my attention and energy to myself, and this has meant that Olear has not received much from me. However, that’s been shifting the last two months, but in a way I’m still being mindful of how and where I invest my energy, so I’ve been working on things quietly—individual aromatherapy consultations and formulating for other people’s projects. A collaboration with someone I reconnected with and admire is in the works and I’m feeling very positive about it and excited to share when it’s ready. Workshops resumed as of two weeks ago, and that has inspired me a lot. I have plans and ideas to work towards, but I’m also open to diversions occurring and welcome when they do.”
Photos courtesy of Olear.