Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sharing Their Story: Natural Perfumer Guild members, in their own words

Sharing Their Story - an occasional series hosted by Anya McCoy.  Featuring the accomplished and  creative members of the Natural Perfumers Guild, the series is debuting with one of the lights of aromatherapy, and a pioneer in natural perfumery, Victoria Edwards of California and France. 

Alongside Chrissie Wildwood and Mindy Green, two other accomplished aromatherapists, the three are, to my knowledge, the only aromatherapists who wrote about natural perfumery, and called it natural perfumery, in the 1990s. Visionary and prolific in the art of aromatherapy, please enjoy Victoria Edwards, in her own words:



 I love this photo of Victoria, taken in France.  Doesn't she look like a good friend, animated and in high spirits, relating a story?  Well, this is her story.
Biography of Victoria Edwards

I was born in Chicago, grew up in Louisiana, my mothers family is from New Orleans.
My Father is Swiss and I lived in Germany and Switzerland from 4 to 10 years old. My family moved a lot my father was in the Air Force. My family moved to California when I was 10 years old. At 17 I started attending College. I majored in graphic Art, and Journalism.


I lived in Berkeley during the late 1960s and early 70s. There I became interested in Herbs and medicinal Plants. I discovered Jeanne Rose in her Herbs & Things book.


Victoria has the "Berkeley hippie" look going on, even years later!

In 1974 I moved to Fair Oaks a little village outside Sacramento. I started growing gardens Roses and Lavender and other aromatic plants. I became married to Bill Edwards a musician, singer, composer, and music teacher.  I had a beautiful baby girl Cassandra Rose who now lives in Oregon married to a wonderful dentist. They just had twin boys in November, now I am a granny! 

Those twin boys are sure to enjoy their fun-loving granny!

I started practicing massage therapy in 1974 and teaching massage and plant ID classes in nature and teaching people how to make plant medicine and herbal products. I produced my first line of massage oils, which grew into my business “Leydet Aromatics” that I officially started in 1984. Ledet is my mother’s maiden name. Ledet Oils was the original name. I started as a mail order company and in the early 1990s blossomed into a viable website business, with 5 employees.

I went to the "wayback" Internet resource to find this screenshot of Victoria's website, circa 2004.  I didn't know she had a book on cooking with essential oils!  Now I must track this down.
My first book I authored in 1997 after 14 years of work "The Aromatherapy Companion" by Storey publishers. Has 40,000 books in print.  It is in the 12th printing now.


This is the book that contains a chapter on natural perfumery!  Leave a comment about some aspect of Victoria's career that you find fascinating and you will be in a random drawing to win a copy of the book.  Leave a comment by noon, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.

 After 28 years of being CEO I decided to move to France where I had been conducting seminars “AromaCamp” for many years, 1997 –2002  studying French Medical Aromatherapy and distillation and Natural Perfumery. I fell in love with the South of France. My childhood dream had always been to return to Europe.

 I lived in France 7 years and returned August 2010 to rescue my parent’s property and home that had been neglected for years. Now I live in Northern California in Oroville in the home my father built 40 years ago by hand of brick and tile. I have beautiful views of the coast range of California, the Sutter Buttes, giant pine trees and Blue Oaks.
I have revived the orchard and garden planting veggies, herbs, flowers and everything aromatic.
Victoria with her beloved roses.
 A Mountain village Oroville on the Feather River has the biggest earth filled dam in America visible from my balcony about 5 minutes from where I live. 

In the south of France I worked as a Balneotherapy Therapist, Working with healing waters, spas Algae, seaweed for detox and rejuvenation.  I continued my work with plants collecting flowers, making custom formulas and writing more books.

I can imagine this image as Victoria welcoming a client for a therapy with balneotherapy, healing waters, etc.

I am also an Artist, Journalist, published author: besides The Aromatherapy Companion, La Vie en France, 25 Aromatherapy Blends for De-stressing, Aromatherapy and La Cuisine Aromatica. I am also a co-author of The Aromatherapy Book of Inhalations & Applications by Jeanne Rose.

 My second business for 12 years was A.I.R Aromatherapy Institute & Research developing the "AIR Seminars Certification Course".

Teaching seminars all around the US Canada Japan and France. I was the first elected president of the first  American Aromatherapy Association from 1987 to 1990. The work of the ATTA included getting the word Aromatherapy into the dictionary and creating a National Board for testing abilities and knowledge.

I am happy and very excited to be back in California and planting gardens.  Hummingbirds visit the honeysuckle bushes and gorgeous red roses are blooming now.  I collect Orange blossoms with all the honeybees buzzing around my head to produce Neroli creams, I am making fresh face creams, Rose, Neroli, Artemisia Blue and Sunrose these help moisturize dry and aging skin and sun exposed and more serious skin problems also.



My new web site is Victoria Leydet.com and is still under construction. My email is artemisvert@yahoo.com


ETA: Aromatherapist and Guild Associate Jeanne Rose also wrote about creating perfumes with natural aromatics in two of her books in the 1970s and 90s.

9 comments:

  1. Loved this, and I love Victoria too. I have a first edition of her book. Thanks Anya, and Victoria..

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  2. On a general note, I'm at a place in my life where I'm transitioning into a "second career" I just haven't figured out what yet and hearing about these awesome pioneers, awesome women, is just inspiring. It makes me want to go out and DO THINGS. I am right there with you on wanting a copy of La Cuisine Aromatica (maybe we can convince Victoria to re-publish, self-publish?). I can't wait to see what she's up to next.

    Getting historical context for where natural perfumery is today (branching from aromatherapy in the 90s -- I can't remember when the word aromatherapy didn't "officially" exist!) is important to know. I thank you for providing this space for Victoria's story so I now know something that before I didn't.

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  3. I love that first photo, she does look like a friend, in the middle of sharing something great.
    Thank you
    This may not technicaly be called a career, but I like your new home, the prospect of bringing it back to life from extreme neglect and the fun of maintaining. may you always have beautiful gardens and a nice warm home.

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  4. Bravo! What an exciting life Victoria has led. I am intrigued by the balneotherapy and healing waters. That is practically unheard of in this country, and I'm a Pisces, so I would love to enjoy it. Thank you so much, Anya, for this Sharing Their Story to life. I look forward to the future stories.

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  5. I am delighted to see this. I took a course from Victoria decades ago and still use the recipes from it. I didn't know she was an Air Force brat. I envy her living in so many beautiful places, but she is a beautiful woman, so it fits.

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  6. Victoria – thank you for sharing your beautiful story! It really is nice to see the person behind the name. I hope you realize what a treasured, positive influence you have made in the expansive world of aromatherapy. The ability to spark creativity using essential oils among your readers and students is the best gift of all! Anya – thank you for seeking the aromatic path, with all its twists and turns.

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  7. I'm new to aromatherapy and natural perfumery, and this biography from someone who is obviously a giant in the field was inspiring.

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  8. Love it! I think I have taken this book from the library 100 times. I think I should own one! Great blog Anya!

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  9. The winner of the Aromatherapy Companion book is Mary! Please write to me and give me your address so I may ship the book.

    xoxo,
    Anya

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