Monday, March 9, 2015

MAKERS + MOVERS: OBEAH NYC

makers + movers is a series that feature makers of clean products of integrity, thought, + passion which then move the world towards a higher consciousness . . .

t's quite appropriate that this post on Obeah NYC follows the magical potions of Sister Spinster as Jonathan creates just that with his hand-crafted fragrances. The intricacy of Jonathan's craft is immediately palpable to the eye through his minimalist + exquisitely designed line of products. So, although I was prepared for the same elegant touch in the scent, I was completely spellbound in all the sense of the pun. I got an immediate whiff of the Encens Sacré as I opened the package + repeatedly said "oh my goodness . . ." out loud as I unraveled everything. 

I'd like to believe that I am pretty literate, for the lack of a better word, when it comes to fragrances + have quite a selective nose. Fragrance is my only vice in my otherwise crunchy granola lifestyle + I am very attached to the scents that I have. There is such a deeply phenomenological experience that comes with scents that draws all presence to the recesses of the mind—a Proustian recall of sunny Sunday afternoons as a child with father's pipe tobacco, a night out in a daze of love, or even the scent of middle school gelly pens [never forget]  . . .
Obeah's fragrances are an experience. The line features fragrance for the home and body that Jonathan crafts with aromatics + botanicals that range from smoky + deep to notes as fresh as wild-grasses + flowers. The signature scent, Encens Sacré, has left me completely enchanted. It's a home fragrance but I have shamelessly not shied away from [not so] accidentally spritzing myself rather than my room. I kind of wish I could pull the shower knob + bathe in it  . . .

Elysian Fields is equally captivating + gives me a drop of hope that Spring is indeed going to grace us with her warmth. It's a bottle of springtime notes of moss + vetiver, flora awakening beneath frost, +  cypress if that at all provides justice to the poetry of its scent. This little potion just came out this month + is available for a limited time. 

All the fragrances are crafted in small batches and even as a custom personal fragrance in New York City with roots + inspiration from Jonathan's birthplace, New Orleans. Meet Obeah [ō-bē-uh], a line 'designed to beautify the air and elevate the spirit' + the creator behind the magic . . .

JONATHAN STEADMAN, OBEAH NYC | hand-crafted in new york city
Q: Tell us a little about you + how you began making fragrance.
I’ve always been intrigued by scent. A few years ago, I became curious about creating perfume, so I started doing research, connecting with other perfumers, and collecting ingredients.

Q: What is so magical about hand-crafted fragrance?
When I started blending fragrances, there was something very magical about the mixing of the individual ingredients and the resulting accord. Also, the effects some of the natural aromatics have on our temperaments is also quite mystical.

Q: What inspired you to start OBEAH + what does it stand for?
I was born in New Orleans, which has a long history of magic. “Obeah” is a folk magic that made its way to Louisiana via the Caribbean. When I was designing this line, I wanted to continue this tradition. I did this in selecting ingredients known for their charmed properties. Our roomspray Philtre, was inspired by a love potion, and contains six aphrodisiac ingredients.

Q: Where do you source your ingredients from?
All over. I’m always looking for the best version of an ingredient. I recently found a patchouli essential oil that’s better that the one I was previously using. I stocked up so I won’t run out for a while, and the good news is that it gets better with age.

Q: Do you have a ritual for making + applying your products?
A new fragrance usually starts with an inspiration: a place or a memory of something. If the blend is working, I’ll tinker with it till everything is in balance. As for their application, I like to change my personal scent a lot, and will often mix something up before I head out the door.


Q: Tell us about your 'curiosities' line + the potent effects of elixirs.
A lot of the potions are based on recipes I found from old, archived spell books. I tried to highlight the more aromatically pleasing ingredients. It’s difficult finding ground, dried hummingbird heart, and even I don’t want to handle that. 

Q: When you are not working on OBEAH, what else do you like to do?
After emails and working in my lab a bit, I need to stretch it out. I ride my bike everywhere if it’s over 30F. I also try to do yoga a couple times per week.

Q: What keeps you going? Do you have a daily routine or a mantra?
I do not rush out of bed in the morning. I open the curtains all the way and sun for a bit. The type of morning I have sets the tone for the day, so I take morning rituals very seriously. Before I get start work, I usually have about 3-4 Nespressos. Is that too many?

Q: What are some of your favourite snacks or foods that fuel your creative process?
Raw carrots, almonds, 80% cacao chocolate, and dried strawberries.

Q: What are your three staples for glowing health?
Good sleep, plenty of water, and Elixir for Youth, a potion I make with essential oils that gives the face a radiant light.

Q: If you could pick one favourite product from your line, which would it be + why?
Encens Sacré is Obeah’s signature room spray. But right now, it would have to be Elysian Fields. After a long NYC winter, our new seasonal scent is giving me life. There may still be snow on the ground outside, but inside it smells like springtime.

Q: What would be an ideal day for you?
Anywhere in nature, with wine and good friends.

Q: What are your go-to products in your holistic medicine cabinet?
My favorite of them all is frankincense. It’s great for the skin, to aid in meditation, and a drop in a glass of water is good for digestion and immune health.

Q: What is your next big vision for OBEAH?
I’m always playing around with new ideas for the line. Next month, we will start offering a crystal potpourri. When the lid is removed from the jar, the oil-infused crystals fill the room with a gorgeous, balsamic scent.