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Interview with Trygve Harris By Gergely Hollodi

How did you initially get involved with aromatherapy, and what made you start working with essential oils? I was originally enchanted with the aromatics of Yemen, and I kept going back, geeking out on insane hair balms, bakhoor, weird perfumes and chewing qat. Due to an improbably strange series of circumstances and places, I ended up in New York via Cairo and Vancouver, having had a sudden inspiration about gathering aromatics from around the world into one place. I was not, and still am not "businessminded", so my plan stopped there.

What is your first memory about your first contact with essential oils? My first memory about contact with essential oils? I’m going to change that a bit. I had 20 or so Frontier oils in my little kiosk. We were all evicted near the end of the year, and I rented my own little store on Jones Street in the Village. This was super cute, and I had aromatic stuff from everywhere. Two Canadian women came in one day with exquisite, sparkling essential oils. This was Aromatic Osmosis, Nadine Artemis and her partner, Barbara. I think her name was Barbara. These oils were another level. They engaged me fully. These oils were complex and heady. Most were organic, but there were oils like Green Myrtle, which I remember smelling in shock. I had no idea essential oils could propel me to heaven and make me swoon. Those poor little Frontier oils were "fine"; they smelled like what the labels said, but these Osmosis oils made my heart race. It was like they opened my eyes, my nose, my brain, and even my heart to a part of the world I had not known existed. I was like: "Ohhhhh!" But my first actual memory of an oil was a fragrance oil from a headshop in Santa Barbara. It was in the early or mid-1970s, and I'm trying to remember the company because those oils are still around. The shop was The Sunset House, in La Cumbre Plaza. I rolled into their "frangipani essential oil" and was done. There were a couple more, and obviously, they weren’t really essential oils, but the label said "essential oil", which was good enough for me. I was like a border collie with a toy.

What are your thoughts about CO2 s in practice and their future in aromatherapy? I like CO2s very much. It bothered me that I did; I can't remember why. I loved those warm notes in fresh ginger. Now I'm swooning over a Jasmine sambac CO2. Whether or not these had a place in aromatherapy, it used to be controversial; I don't know if it still is.

To learn more about Trygve Harris, visit

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