Sustainable production as a vehicle for social impact: Berber and Amazigh women learn how to up-cycle floral waste for Sana Jardin. In conversation with Amy Christiansen
Amy Christiansen spent her youth traveling across the globe with her grandmother, Mary Pomeroy, who co-founded The United States Delegations for Friendship Among Women – the organization works towards increasing communication between women from the United States and developing countries. As a result, she grew up surrounded by the scents of North Africa and the Middle East – neroli, jasmine and amber. This fact sparked a passion in her which led her into the world of perfumes.
Today, she leads Sana Jardin, a fragrance house that employs sustainable production as a vehicle for social impact and female empowerment. «Our Beyond Sustainability™ model, based on ‘flower recycling’ provides floral harvesters with the skills and materials they need to increase their wages through commerce, not charity», she explains.
The brand was preceded by in-depth research on the market and socio-economic circumstances of local communities: «It took us two years to launch Sana Jardin. I began by developing the branding and packaging, and traveling to Morocco to assess the needs of the community».
By tradition, jasmine, rose and orange blossom are harvested seasonally, so Amy developed the Orange Blossom Project, which allows Amazigh women to convert crop waste into rose and orange water used for baking and tea, to make rose candles from scented wax waste and to make organic compost out of wastage. These women sell all these products themselves in local markets — they are the sole shareholders of the cooperative, and the skills they learn (literacy, finance, branding, distribution, and marketing) turn them into micro-entrepreneurs.
Amy ensures us that the pandemic has not brought the work Sana Jardin and these women to a halt: «Our team in Morocco have remotely trained the harvesters to make face masks. This has not only taught them a new skill set, but also helped with their income during these challenging times. With the help of a grant from non-profit Nest, we are now donating the masks throughout the community». Sana Jardin will soon launch these handmade masks on its online store and through its other channels, making them available on an international level.
Sana Jardin represents the embodiment of Amy’s values and life experiences. Her fragrance Jaipur Chant, for example, was inspired by a Hindu ritual she took part in during her latest trip to India, that featured as per tradition jasmine and tuberose garlands given as offerings. She recognizes that flowers are more than symbols of spirituality: «Perfume is alchemy. Ancient priestesses healed ailments with essential oils, and incense and flowers have been used in rituals for thousands of years. I believe in the healing power of plants and flowers and that their properties can be translated into perfume».
The fragrance house has also decided to adopt new measures of sustainability, namely by incorporating upcycled and biodegradable materials into their production. The new line of body and home fragrances, for example, will be shipped and sold without a box and a cap, and will come into refillable bottles — this to minimize waste and reduce the carbon footprint.