Smells like nostalgia: Q&A with Katya about the uniquely comforting scents in our products

A scent can bring on a flood of vivid memories, bring a smile to your face, and evoke strong emotions. It’s an incredibly personal experience for everyone, yet our founder, Katya, has created scents that are unique yet universally appealing to evoke nostalgia and keep you coming back for more. Read on to learn more about the women in Katya’s life who inspired her and the secrets to the magical, harmonizing aromas in our products.

 

  1. Who are the women in your life who have inspired you throughout your skincare + business journey?

I grew up in Russia where there was not much access to skincare or cosmetic products when I was a child, so my mom created herbal remedies for my sister and I. She would make hair rinses for us with Chamomile and Nettle leaves. I infuse these in our Repair & Style Hair Oil.

My mom also used Henna to fortify our hair. My hair was very thin, so she would make Henna masks for me. As a result, my hair became quite thick and luscious, and it still is. I definitely thank my mom for my hair!

She used Calendula in our baths or if we got sunburned. Also sour cream was the ultimate remedy to alleviate sunburn after days spent in the sun. I infuse Calendula into most of my formulas. In the summer, she would make fruit masks for us. Some days it was cucumbers, others it was peaches or strawberries. Whatever fruit of choice, I remember my skin was always left feeling silky soft.

She also put Sea Buckthorn oil on everything, as well as Siberian Cedar Nut oil. These were her ultimate ‘heal-all’ remedies. From dry skin, to burns, to sore throats, to stomach aches. Hence, these oils are some of the star ingredients in our Rejuvenating Face Serum.

When it comes to business, I had several girlfriends who started their own ventures before me and gave me the inspiration and encouragement to create my own thing. I wanted to build my own business, but just didn’t know where to start. I took a branding and strategy course with my friend Kat Tepelyan, who is a genius branding specialist. That gave me a more clear vision on how to turn my creations into a business. It’s one thing to create effectual beauty products, it’s a whole other ball game to create a business. I also trained in a professional lab for two years, trained by female formulators and chemists. All my teachers - herbalism, perfumery, aromatherapy, formulation - were women; creative, inspiring, powerhouse women. I was basically trained by a band of modern day witches!

 

  1. Every product in the Malaya range has such a unique yet beautiful (and intoxicating!) scent profile. What are your inspirations behind the scents you've created, and where did your love of scents begin?

I always loved perfumes and aromatic experiences, but in my late teens, I realized that I was allergic to synthetic perfumes. My love for aromatic blends really began when I discovered essential oils and their therapeutic properties. Since I had this allergy, I started searching for natural, essential oil based perfumes. Honestly, I never really found one that I truly liked, or that worked with my body chemistry. I never liked how any natural perfumes that I bought smelled on me. I got tired of “tolerating” the aromas that I wore and decided to further explore the world of natural perfumery and aromatherapy. When I delved into these studies, I realized that I had a natural knack for crafting aromas. I became obsessed with aromatic blending.

Whether herbaceous, floral, earthy, woodsy, musky or citrusy, I must enjoy the scent to gravitate towards it. When I smell a formula, I want to experience that “intoxicating” feeling from the aroma. If the scent doesn’t resonate with me, I can’t use the product.

I choose every essential oil in my formulas for their therapeutic properties and then I work with them to build a synergetic blend that is also aromatherapeutic. So what you get is a healing formula that also happens to have a gorgeous, harmonizing aroma.

 

  1. How do you create a scent that's so universal?

Blending an aroma that has therapeutic properties also means that it’s pleasant to the senses. This means that it’s gentle enough to appeal to a wide range of people, yet enticing enough to keep you wanting to come back for more. I craft aromas that are unique, but also evoke nostalgia. This ignites a sense of familiarity yet still intrigues because the scent is very unique.

  1. Place on earth with your favorite scent.

I would have to say Thailand. Everywhere I went in Thailand, I could smell Jasmine blooming. It was so intoxicating. I adore Jasmine.

Also Mexico – I have been traveling to the Yucatan for the last 15 years. I saw Tulum when it only had dirt roads (before the crazed popularity it has now). I still return there every year and the smell of the beach air is so sweet and warming, it instantly calms me and feels like home.

 

  1. What is your favorite scent or blend of scents?

 Ooh this is a hard one, as I love so many, and it really depends on my mood, state of mind, or physical state.

One of my favorite aromas is musk. Since it doesn’t really exist in a natural form, I often find myself trying to recreate it when I’m crafting aromas (Woods Body Oil, Ritual Candle). I have successfully created several perfumes that remind me of musk, or rather have a musky aroma. I might be sharing them with the world very soon :)

I also adore Jasmine, and deep floral aromas, but they have to be blended well for them not to be overpowering for me.

And of course citrus! I love to play with citrus in so many different scent profiles - citrus and flowers (our Citrus & Bloom Body Oil), citrus and herbaceous aromas, citrus and musky aromas, citrus and woodsy aromas - or a blend of these (our Wild Blossom Candle. This was a tough fragrance to craft).

 

  1. What does your own home smell like?

Depends on the day, but generally my home smells like spices (we have a lot of spices that we cook with). I often burn Palo Santo, Sage and our Aromatherapy Candles :) Also, I make aromatic room sprays. My current fave has Frankincense and Grapefruit.

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