Perfumer Melanie Jane and Mariah Carey share birthdays. While Mariah got the sensational voice, Melanie was blessed with scent-sational nose that she has followed all the way from England’s flower fields - where she grew up - to the Grasse Perfumery Institute and then a successful aromatherapy business in Dubai, Melanie Jane Boudoir Fragrances and Skincare. She spends her time sniffing out new scents or with her nose buried in a book.
If I’m lucky, I get breakfast in bed, then I’ll do a bit of work for a couple of hours. The rest of the day, I either relax with my husband at home watching movies and eating popcorn, or I go to second-hand bookstores and spend hours browsing through every section. I love it when I find exclusive treasures; last week I picked up a signed copy of Boy George’s autobiography for Dh10.
LOST AND FOUND
I lost my father suddenly in 1993, when I was six months pregnant, which led to me suffering from postpartum depression. I wanted to feel better without medication, so I enrolled at the local college’s evening classes and learnt how to wax legs. That led to me signing up for a one-year diploma course on Holistic Therapy. I discovered the power of essential oils after one of my fellow students made a blend for me using frankincense and the next day I felt like the sun was truly shining for the first time in ages. I’ve been hooked since then and want to spread the joy I found that day.
A SEA OF CALM
I go snorkelling when I want to totally de-stress. The silent calm of being under the water and watching the fish slowly swim by me takes me to a place of total tranquillity. I don’t think about anything when I’m there.
STORY OF A SCENT
I get inspiration from different places and sometimes it’s random. I don’t create a new fragrance unless I am inspired, for example, my husband inspired me to make [the fragrance] Burlesque because he loves the smell of honeysuckle, which reminds him of home. Bohemian [another one of my fragrances] was inspired by my love of patchouli, which reminds me of the eighties when I was into heavy metal music and put patchouli oil on everything.
I’m from Bolton in the north of England and I’ve lived in Dubai for 18 years now. I rarely go back because my family live all over the world now. Being in the flower fields with my sisters is one of my earliest memories. We would go nearly every weekend during spring, pick bluebells and daffodils and place them in vases all over the house. That was my happy place then and I have very fond memories of it.
‘All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away,’ is a line by the character Pa Bailey from one of my favourite movies, It’s a Wonderful Life. The moral of the film has stayed with me because it shows how everyone can positively affect someone else’s life in some way or another. If you ever think that your existence is inconsequential, then watch this film, it’s very powerful. I’ve seen Muriel’s Wedding 10 times and it always make me laugh hysterically.
MARIAH IS ME
I was born on the exact same day as Mariah Carey – March 27, 1970. I can see similar traits in myself, but unfortunately singing isn’t one of them because I’m tone deaf. That doesn’t stop me from singing at the top of my voice to her songs; in my head we sound the same.
AS GOOD AS GORDON
I could eat spicy curry with naan all the time and I eat it at least twice a week. I cook a quick, healthy version with chicken, chopped tomatoes and mixed spices that I get from the spice souk. I much prefer to eat in these days because my cooking has improved and I make a mean beef Wellington that Gordon Ramsey taught me. On YouTube. My husband works six days a week, so we rarely go out, but my favourite restaurant is Prime68 – we had brunch there last year and it was just a spectacular experience.
I would spend a week on Necker Island and completely switch off for a few days and have fun. Hopefully Richard Branson would be there, and I could persuade him to invest in me with my creative business proposal.
HAVE NOSE IN A BOOK
I’m looking forward to reading books this weekend. I love the smell of old books; the warm, musty aroma always makes me smile and feel calm, they remind me of the smell of my grandmother’s house where I used to spend time playing dominoes and eating fig biscuits. It was a simpler time. It’s my birthday soon and I’m looking forward to getting a new perfume book called The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr.
Essential oils work in harmony with your body, they can restore balance by detecting what your body needs by either stimulating, relaxing or healing. I don’t believe that they are an alternative medicine, rather that they are complimentary. For instance, bergamot is excellent for anxiety and I dab a drop on my pulse points before any public speaking events and spike lavender is excellent for scar healing – I made my husband a blend after a neck operation and it gave staggering results in only four weeks. Modern medicine has its place, but I would rather people reach for a bottle of lavender than sleeping pills for their insomnia.
SOMETHING TO BE SNIFFED AT
My nose rarely gets blocked, but on the rare occasion that I get flu I vaporise with rosemary and eucalyptus to clear it and of course I can’t do any blending for a few days. My sense of smell is acute and I can detect faint smells, in fact sometimes my husband thinks I imagine aromas that are not there. I can’t work for too many hours at a time when blending because I get dizzy.
My proudest career moment was when I was a guest speaker at the World Trade Club last March, I relaunched my perfume range at the same time too and it sold out. It was two days after my birthday, so an extra special time and it really made me feel that all my years of hard work and struggle was totally worth it.
My father was instrumental in teaching me to work for what I want and never gave me handouts even though he was the kindest man. I’ve worked since I was 12, when I had a newspaper round in the mornings and cleaned brasses after school in the local restaurant. It’s made me fiercely independent and makes the occasional splurge very satisfying, knowing that I’ve earned it. The last thing I spent on were a pair of Louis Vuitton boots. It’s the most I have ever spent on footwear, but they were just the most beautiful things for my feet that I have ever seen and they are happy feet now!
FEEL GOOD FACTOR
My ability to make people feel better about themselves by spreading happiness through fragrance is my superpower. Whether it’s through the fragrances I create that make customers happy or what I teach in my classes. My favourite part of conducting classes is sharing my knowledge and experience with others – I simply love seeing the wonder and delight on their faces when they create something beautiful that they never knew they were capable of. I feel like I’ve made a difference in their lives and that’s so rewarding.