With names like Amor Amor, Trésor, Happy, Mania and Obsession, many popular fragrances seek to package a mood. But for Mālie Organics, the brand is bottling up the entire island paradise of Hawaii.
We sat down with Dana Roberts, who co-founded the Kauai-based line in 2004 with her husband, Shaun, to get the inside scoop on how the couple began sorting through the lush flora of the habitat, extracting its essences and blending it to create the 50 products Mālie offers today.
What made you start the line?
We were captivated by the beautiful scents and elements from the Hawaiian Islands. We wanted to share the amazing ingredients the Hawaiian Islands have to offer.
Is there any specific flora that influences the line?
We have a plethora of flowers to choose from to create scents. We wanted to use popular flowers, such as orchids and plumeria, as well as lesser-known scents, such as those derived from pikake and inspired by the Koke’e rainforest. The scent in the rainforest comes from the maile vine and is prevalent in Kauai.
Do any of the flowers have a story behind them?
Plumeria is the flower that you will find in a traditional Hawaiian lei when arriving to the islands. It has its own character and at times can smell sweet. Due to the trade winds on most of the islands, the scent of plumeria is everywhere.
The pikake flower is a particular type of Hawaiian jasmine that was a favorite of Princess Ka’iulani. Pikake is known as "the flower of love.”
The kukui nut is prevalent in many of your products. Why?
Kukui is another part of Hawaii’s lush vegetation. The tree was originally brought to Hawaii by the Polynesian settlers, and Hawaii later adopted it as the state tree. [The nut from the kukui tree produces] a lightweight and nongreasy oil. It immediately penetrates the skin. It has been used to treat wounds and burns. It is also high in omega acids. We wanted to use oil that could be sourced locally and blended with the flower essences.
What is your process for coming up with each fragrance?
Flowers are fragile and living organisms. In order to capture their true essence and all their benefits at the molecular level, we extract the delicate water [within them] using a unique distillation process. This process produces Hawaiian hydrosols. Each hydrosol is an imprint of each flower. These hydrosols are the true essence of our scents.
How do you come up with the fragrance combinations?
We select the flower based on their abundance in Hawaii. We then see how the hydrosol will affect the scent once it is distilled and how long the scent will last. All flowers can be distilled, but that doesn’t mean we need to use them. Hawaii is essentially a beautiful garden. We want the scent of the garden in what we create.