Oren Porterfield is the master mixer behind the local apothecary brand, Ritual Goods. F&N was lucky enough to do a beautiful photo shoot with her featuring some of our favorite pieces in the shop. She is not only talented with essential oils but she also has been dancing for Ballet Austin since 2009. We sat down with Oren to ask her a few questions. Get to know this talented lady and come smell her wonderful fragrances & soaps at the shop!!
1. How long have you been mixing oils and making fragrances and soaps? What gravitated you to start doing it?
I've been very smell oriented all my life, so many of my good memories are linked to a particular scent- my fathers handkerchief permeated patchouli and a sunshiny hay-like smell, I remember distinctly what I later discovered to be channel no 5 wafting through the theater as I watch the New York City ballet for the first time, and of course the old boyfriend who brings back memories of sandalwood and American spirits.
2. Did you teach yourself how to do it or learn from a mentor?
I've been using essential oils in my personal rituals for a long time, and was inspired by a good friend who is a sort of herbal wizard to try and make my own essence sprays.
It's been only within the last year that I thought of making potions for others. It was trial and error at first, one drop too much of something can ruin a beautiful batch. I really enjoy cooking and get the same kind of pleasure when coming up with a new fragrance. I love hearing feedback from customers and I've learned so much from making custom fragrances, I tend to gravitate towards spicy so when someone wants something soft and floral the challenge definitely improves my technique.
3. What’s your favorite scent that you’ve made so far?
I tend to pick scents for my moods, so I wear a different concoction every day. If I had to choose a favorite I would pick "Duende", with patchouli, sweet orange, and black pepper, it's warm, sweet and spicy. Patchouli can be a polarizing oil, but I think when mixed well creates a subtle sensuality.
4. What inspired you in the making of that delicious soap??
The "cassia bar" was one of my first tries at soap and the original recipe stuck. I use cassia oil which is in the same family as cinnamon, actually most "cinnamon" at the grocery store is made from cassia bark. I wanted to use essential oils not only to scent the soap but for their therapeutic and medicinal properties. Cassia oil is a stimulant and antimicrobial, and combined with patchouli, cedarwood, and coffee beans makes for great aromatherapy.
5. What’s in the future for Ritual Goods?
My goal for Ritual Goods remains to create evocative fragrances for practical use.
6. What’s been the most fulfilling part about making your own apothecary?
I am truly humbled when someone takes up a Ritual Goods fragrance as their own. Choosing a perfume is such a personal experience and it is so fulfilling when someone tells me that I got that ineffable feeling right.
7. Any sources of inspiration?
Included among my many inspirations are mythologist Joseph Cambell, the writer Thomas Moore, and of course Frida Kahlo.
8. What is your creative process?
When preparing to mix oils, the important elements are music, lighting, and wine.
9. Is there anything that you want to invoke out of your customers when smelling your products?
I think it's important that I leave space for my clients to develop their own relationship with their fragrance. I do provide a sort of poetic note that reflects the dream space I was in when creating the perfume, but once it's on their skin it's up to them. I will say that I believe in the healing power of essential oils, the right combinations can inspire or calm the spirit, I do consult Ayurvedic principles when making my goods.
10. How long have you been dancing for Ballet Austin? Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have been dancing professionally for 13 years. I'm from the Dallas area originally and trained in Dallas, Austin, and NYC. My early career was with the Ohio Ballet, then the Dayton Ballet, and now I have been a member of Ballet Austin since 2009. Ballet has afforded me so many opportunities, including a tour to Israel and performing at places like the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. I truly had always wanted to be a dancer and am still often amazed that this is actually my job. The discipline and creativity you hone as a dancer are invaluable qualities that don't disappear as you leave the stage. Although there is nothing like being on stage.
11. What’s been your favorite Ballet performance/production here in Austin?
I'd say my favorite performance was dancing George Balanchine's Agon pas de deux.