We are all acutely aware of how evocative a smell can be, how it can transport you to another place and time, and how this is completely beyond our control.
Someone who understands this deeply is Debbie Knight, founder of Senti, ‘the home of fragrance.’ We caught up with Debbie to chat about her mission to not only harness some of the most evocative scents, but to capture them in the most beautiful vessels.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to Senti
A touch of serendipity lies behind the birth of Senti fragrances. A lack of snow for skiing resulted in my family making an impromptu trip to Florence. We found Villa La Vedetta, a beautiful hotel overlooking the city, where I was immediately captivated by the scent throughout the hotel. It was here that my passion for home fragrance began, and Senti was born.
That chance holiday was over 16 years ago, when Senti became a distributor for a variety of home fragrance brands – both direct to customers and via prestigious stores such as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty. Using the years of knowledge gained from working with retailers and customers, we created our own Senti range 4 years ago, building the brand organically and independently.
2. What effect does fragrance have on us mentally, emotionally and physically?
One of my favourite facts is that studies show 75% of emotions are triggered by smell which is linked to pleasure, well-being, emotion, and memory. For me, one of the most evocative smells from childhood is crayons, mine is the glue that was used at school plus marker pens. I cannot remember the brand names but those smells take me straight back to the classroom.
3. Why do you think it’s important to have fragrance in the home?
Having fragrance in your home, office or even your car can bring many positive effects – not just to evoke memories or replicate good times, but a scent can boost your mood, productivity, relaxation and help you sleep.
When we design our scents, we look to achieve welcoming, calm or uplifting fragrances with distinct ingredients for different rooms. That said, many customers like to use one scent throughout their homes and workplace.
4. Which home fragrances do you recommend for different areas in the house and why?
A citrusy, zingy ginger scent will raise the room energy and therefore work well in a study or workspace. A more relaxing scent with Jasmine, Rose or anything with amber and cedar wood works well in the bedroom or living room. Soft citrus and clean florals work well in bathrooms.
5. What are your personal 3 favourite fragrances and why?
Van Cleef and Arpels perfume, a stunning and memorable fragrance. Aramis aftershave, which always makes me turn my head. Almost any scent from Creed.
6. Which are your most popular products and fragrances?
Our bestsellers do change with the seasons. In the spring and summer months ‘Bergamot & Ginger’ takes the lead, however, our latest scent ‘White Flowers’ is consistently a top seller. In the Autumn, ‘Mandarin & Cypress’ or ‘Fig’ are popular as they have softer and woodier notes. I must also mention our first fragrance ‘Jasmine & Geranium’ is always a winner and my personal favourite. It works well all year round and is such a special scent – both welcoming and comforting.
7. Tell us about the Senti Orchid
We spent 3 years developing a new way of diffusing fragrance for the home. It was an idea that I had after realising that the artificial flowers in our shop displays had absorbed the fragrances from the testers.
Flowers and fragrance in one system was a labour of love involving a team of dedicated and patient people and the result is something we are all proud of. The Senti Orchid diffuser was launched in 2019 and is our best selling product. It is simple to use, long lasting, refillable, and pretty to look at. We chose a white orchid as they are a year-round flower and look gorgeous in any location.
8. What are your top tips for adding fragrance to the home?
Positioning is key. The most effective position for a diffuser is at waist height on a table with room all around it for air to circulate. Reception halls, corridors and doorways are especially effective as air circulation and people moving around carry the fragrance around your home.
Make sure you place diffuser bottles away from radiators or air conditioning as this may make the sticks dry out and use up the fragrance quickly. If they are in direct sunlight every day, the colour may change and even though this doesn't affect the fragrance, it may not look so attractive.
Avoid placing them in shelving units, mantelpieces, too high up, or at the back of a room as this will limit their effectiveness.
Use a range of accessories to scent your home as all have slightly different effects. Scented candles add a romantic ambiance to an evening. Room sprays are instant and easy but not as long lasting, unless used regularly. Reed diffusers will continually perfume rooms with the least effort and most effect.
Add special touches for guests. Spritz doormats, napkins, guest towels or even inside the toilet rolls! Keep your used diffuser reeds. Once the reeds are dry, place them in drawers, cupboards, even inside smelly trainers and in the car – the scent stays on them for months.