Aromatic From Birth…
I was born into a deeply aromatic and sensually rich culture. My parents are Cuban immigrants and I was raised in Manhattan, NY for most of my young childhood. Scent was a part of my world from day one. Cubans love looking and smelling clean. We were always splashed with “Agua de Violetas” (Royal Violets Cologne) after every bath or shower. Growing up, I was awoken every morning by the warm and awakening scent of Cuban Café brewing, and enticed indoors for dinner by the delicious scent of home cooked authentic Cuban and Spanish food.
The Sweet Smells of Home
The sweet, rich aroma of tobacco from my grandfather’s cigar collection was always a part of weekends with my maternal grandparents. My widowed paternal grandmother Maria Mercedes Lopez Bringas lived with us all of my life, she was originally from Spain. She showed me the wisdom of herbal remedies and the distinct flavors and scents of herbal teas and cooking…ahhh Azafrán (Saffron), and Manzaneá (Chamomile) and Naranja Agria (Bitter Orange). She always had some sort of herb or rind drying in a cupboard ready to make a healing tea for us or some sort of liniment to rub us with when we were sick.
My mother, Clara de la Caridad Aguirre Martinez Bringas, a gifted cook, baker and beautician, introduced me to the world of creating beautiful works of art with patience, and perfection. Be it an amazing Flan, a rich and delicious Ropa Vieja or a perfectly executed haircut and style, she made sure that attention to detail and extreme cleanliness were number one in everything she did. My mother also loved perfume and wore a select few. When I smell the old bottles I have saved to this day, they immediately transport me back to my childhood. My father, Sandalio Agustin Bringas also had a role in my olfactory development. He always wore after shave, mainly Old Spice. I remember loving to smell the leather case of his calculator which was a mixed combination of a deep rich leather and an Old Spice mix. Everytime he gave me a dollar bill, it too would smell of his aftershave. I would always know when we were ready to leave the house to go visiting or to some formal outing because the last touch would be that of their scent filling the house.
When I was in kindergarten we moved to Long Island, but still continued our weekends in NYC every week. In Long Island we had a beautiful garden, and were only a few miles from the ocean. I have distinct memories of smelling the salty ocean scent in the air mixed with the rich aromas of Cuban food coming from the kitchen while I played outside. Every bottle I opened as a child, for some reason, I would smell first, and mixing products with other product (often to my mother’s dismay) was only the beginning...
Following My Essence
I discovered essential oils during my time at Hofstra University when I was given my first herbal book by a close “hippie” friend. It was Hygieia: A Woman's Herbal by Jeannine Parvati Baker. I spent countless hours reading it and making botanical body care products. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with 3 minors in Sculpture, Philosophy and Anthropology, I embarked on studying herbal medicine…My first book in learning how to make my own body care products was the Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar. I fell in love with this book and still have my original copy from 1995. I began my formal study in herbal medicine in 1996 when I completed Rosemary Gladstar’s “The Science and Art of Herbalism” which brought me to aromatherapy and an aromatherapy certification in 1997 with Jade Shutes. At the time Jade owned “The Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy” which now is “The School of Aromatic Studies”. Studying the art and science of aromatherapy and aromatic blending eventually brought me to join NAHA, The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy in 1998 and in 2014 to further support the organization by fulfilling a continued dedication to the education and understanding of aromatherapy as the Vermont director of NAHA. The study of aromatherapy and relationship with essential oils and aromatics also opened me to the beautiful and mysterious art and study of botanical perfumery. This dedication to the understanding of the aesthetic nature of scent afforded me a place as a charter member in the juried Natural Perfumer’s Guild in 2006. The rich and diverse world of aromatics captured me in a way nothing else had. The vast depth and width of scent and the properties found in each new botanical ally opened me further to a universe of artistic and creative possibilities.
Lunaroma Is Born
After running a local aromatherapy shop for almost 5 years, I took time away for the birth of my daughter, Alia Maya in February of 2000. In the summer of that same year I was inspired to embark on another journey. I harnessed my skills and my creativity and applied them to my own vision: Lunaroma. I began with a $2000 tax return from my previous job and a dream. At first, I operated out of a spare bedroom in my home and sold my products at local farmer’s markets and in 2001 was juried in as the first natural products and perfume artist at the Vermont Handcrafter’s Organization. As time went on, it grew clear to me the need for my own shop where the true art of custom aromatherapy could happen and where I could display my work without bringing it from market to market. Lunaroma needed another home. In early 2003 I applied for a scholarship at the Woman’s Small Business Program in order to embark on a course in opening, operating and funding a small business and how to write a business plan. That same year, my daughter was old enough to begin at morning garden pre-school, and I opened my first retail store, Lunaroma Aromatic Apothecary in Burlington, Vermont, a name I created with the help of my mother. I designed the entire product line offering, and set sail on my new career. 16 years later, with a magnitude of experiences in aromatherapy, business ownership, and leadership, Lunaroma’s product line has grown to over 300 handcrafted products. I’m also proud to say that now, my daughter who is 16 ½, a gifted artist and an amazing visionary, has also become part of our aromatic family.
I am grateful to be consistently inspired to better the world by creating more awareness of our connection with nature through our connection with plants, aromatherapy, and natural body care products. I love serving as an example of a woman who follows her dreams and gets things done, while humbly appreciating and honoring the cycles of life and the moon.
I deeply thank you for reading this all the way through, and look forward to your exploration of your sense as you open the door to your own aromatic Lunaroma experience.