December 01, 2021

We chatted with April Lea, Founder & Perfumer of LVNEA Perfume, a Canadian niche house, and we can't wait to share her story with you! You'll learn how plant lore and mythology involving plants has become the muse for April and how connecting to her materials - their origin and their aura -  provides a guide for her natural and botanical brand.

 

Q: We are swooning over your name, LVNEA. Can you tell us more about it?

It is pronounced [lou - nay - uh], as in  Lunea,  from the Romanian word for Monday  or the moon's day. A nod to my ancestral heritage, I also loved how the name looked visually, and as a Cancer / Moonchild myself, I was always enamored with the Moon — so It seemed natural to a pick a named associated with it. I even do monthly full moon photos, weather permitting, that I have been doing since the start of the business.

Q: LVNEA is a brand that explores the space between the natural and ethereal. Elaborate on that idea for us?

I work only with natural materials in the making of my perfumes, which is something that just made sense to me from the start. I never approached perfume making from the perspective of a perfume-lover — rather as a plant lover, enthralled by the raw materials produced from the plants. I felt a connection to these materials as if they are embodying a part of the plant’s spirit - something that is intangible or otherworldly. A lot of my concepts are also based on plant lore or mythology involving plants, and to me, they take on a more ethereal experience of nature and the plant and/or spirit realm.

Q: All of your scents and products are naturally based, what are the benefits of working with all-natural based materials? Are there any challenges?

As previously mentioned, it was something that just made sense to me and how I approached the creation of scents from the start. I never weighed the benefits, it was just what drew me in — and I think that is a benefit in itself. With naturals, I feel a connection with the materials and connection to the plants. I also feel connected to my ancestors and  those that came before us. I imagine as if this is what they may have been wearing or smelled like.

As far as challenges go, there are many when working with naturals including sustainably sourcing the materials while making sure they are also cost effective (they can be rather pricey)! I always want to be an accessible brand for all types of people and that is especially challenging with the ever growing high cost of natural extracts and the increasing challenges presented by climate change and sustainable sourcing. However, the challenges are also a part of what makes natural materials so beautiful and to be treated as something special you are engaging with rather than mindlessly consuming. 

Q: Each of LVNEA’s scents has a story, how do you create each story with each scent?

Most of my perfumes start with a concept or a story first. When telling this story through scent, first I transport myself into the setting of the story. I begin to think of all the components I would be experiencing in that moment not just the scent but also how things feel, sound, and look. I then think about how they would all translate to scent and begin to piece these notes together and think about how they would move throughout the composition.

Q: “Spirit water” seems to be a big inspiration for a lot of LVNEA’s perfumes. How do your scents relate to spirit water? How does this relate to the natural and ethereal?

We refer to our line of colognes as also ‘spirit waters’ because this line first started off as inspired by historic colognes, which I find absolutely fascinating. Historically, these colognes, or 'spirit waters', were composed similarly to an herbal potion and were thought of as a  panacea , or cure-all for ailments both medical and spiritual in nature. A popular example of this today would be Florida Water, which can be found in most pharmacies or spiritual shops and is an important staple in Hoodoo, Voodoo, Santeria, and Wiccan practices for a multitude of uses.

Q: Tell us about LVNEA’s aesthetic and style and how traditional French parfumerie techniques are juxtaposed with a minimal design.

I find that Lvnea encompasses my personal attraction to minimalist design through our simple black packaging, juxtaposed with my love of the grandiose, expressed through the history of perfumery, old apothecaries and antiques, and alchemy, magic, and lore — all inspirations for the scents themselves and the stories behind them. 

Q: All of LVNEA’s scents are unisex, and we love that! Tell us why this is important to you and your brand.

Scent does not have a gender. Throughout history, a perfume was simply a perfume, not a men’s perfume or a woman’s perfume, and only sometime approaching the 20th century did dividing perfumes into gender categories become so important and was mainly used as a marketing strategy. I believe pampering yourself and indulging your senses through rituals of scent and care are not exclusive to any one gender on the spectrum, and invite people to follow their noses, to challenge the limitations typically imagined around perfume, self-care, and self-expression.

Q: Tell us the story of how you got into the fragrance business.

I started off by making soaps and small handmade botanical body care products. amd found the blending of the essential oils to scent the products was the most appealing aspect to me. I found myself exploring essential oils and absolutes more and more and a lot of the blends I was creating seemed too precious (and expensive) to be fated to a bar of soap, so I progressed into blending them for perfumes instead. Once I discovered the world of natural perfume, I became obsessed. I found every book I could on the subject and read and learned as much as I could. Shortly after I experimented and developed my own line of about 8 different oil-based perfumes - some of which are still available!

Afterwards, I was invited on a 3 month cross-country trip with a friend from Philadelphia who was popping up and selling art work at punk shows, little outdoor events, markets, pop-ups, really anyone that would have us all over the US. I was selling my perfumes alongside and they were a huge hit. Once we returned from that trip I set up an online shop and was eventually able to make that my full-time job.

Q: How long have you been interested in scent and perfume? How did you start learning about it?

It started about 9 years ago. I became obsessed and borrowed or bought every book on the topic I could find as well as scouring the internet for any information available. I later took some workshops and online classes and just immersed myself in the materials as much as possible. With each bit of information I absorbed, I only became further obsessed and fell down the rabbit hole even more. It truly was a passion project.

Q: What do you want someone who wears your fragrance to know about you and your brand?

I think it is important to know we are a super small team of 4 working out of our Montreal boutique, still hand blending and bottling each perfume and product. A lot of people approach us as if we are a large-scale operation but we are still doing everything in-house, from the photography and customer service to making the perfumes and handling shipment for every order.

Q: Tell us something that most people don’t know about you?

I was born and raised in Philadelphia and only moved to Montreal (Quebec) in my 20’s (and I speak terrible French - I’m working on it though!)

Q: Outside of LVNEA, what other creative outlets do you have?

Photography, Herbalism, Astro-herbalism, and gardening.

 

 

Q: Where do you consider your happy place?

The woods or forest.

Q: What is your favorite word?

I don’t know if it is my favorite but I like the word luminescent.

Q:  What is your least favorite word?

Maybe ‘Entrepreneur’ and the weight it carries.

Q:  What turns you on?

Softness, kindness

Q: What turns you off?

Smugness

Q: What’s your favorite note?

Impossible to pick just one, but I gravitate towards scents that have a little bit of a stink to them - agarwood, cepes, spikenard, dark and musky, funky, smoky or leathery notes.

Q: What’s your least favorite note?

I’m not into synthetic ‘clean’ scents, like fresh linen or clean laundry.

Q: What are you smelling right now?

Poplar bud from an absolute I made on my work desk at home.

Q: If you could describe your brand in 3 words, what would they be?

alchemical, botanical, dark

Q: What’s next for you?

I hope to be able to get back to hosting workshops and having more community-oriented events in our space again.

 

 

Want to smell  LVNEA? We featured Ghost Pine in our  December 2021 Collection, the Longest Night.

Discover the full line of fragrances we have featured from LVNEA  HERE

 

 Follow LVNEA on  Instagram

Photo credits: LVNEA


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