Helida Dodd, Natural Perfumer and Founder, Marbella Perfumes
Profile: I am originally from Nicaragua. I grew up on a farm, close to volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by trees, mountains, flowers, rivers, and creeks. My heart is in constant awe of the healing powers of nature.
Helida Dodd, 7 years old, Farm in Nicaragua
I grew up in a family where farm to table and organic foods were the norm before it became trendy. Homemade foods and natural remedies were part of life, and good craftsmanship was very important. One of my favorite childhood memories was my grandmother’s rose and jasmine garden. In Central America, it’s common to have indoor gardens that are centrally located in the house. We had the most beautiful view of it from the dining room, where we spent hours doing our summer lessons.
Illustration of Helida’s grandparent’s house by Ana Karen Morimoto
I was immersed in nature everywhere around me. I adore the smell of jasmine, but the smell of earth after it rains tugs at my heart in a very different way. It transports me to my farm and riding my beloved horse to my favorite jocote tree. I would sit there for hours until I was full of the juicy and tart fruit. The feeling of wind on my face was pure joy and freedom without a care in the world.
Jocote Tree via Canva
Marbella Perfumes started as a need for a beautiful fragrance that didn’t feel as an assault to my senses. I stopped wearing perfumes with my first pregnancy as morning sickness played tricks with my sense of smell. I desperately wanted to find that special bottle of perfume again, but the “no perfume spell” lasted for 12 years! Sure, I would buy perfumes, but I would happily give them away after two days. Let’s just say my mom was a happy recipient of many beautiful fragrances. On a trip to London, my English friend Jules sent me to have tea at her favorite London spot, Fortnum and Mason. Turns out that I found not only my favorite tea spot in London, but also a famous perfume designer that worked with natural materials. After perusing Fortnum & Mason’s beauty floor for hours, I realized there were perfumes made with some of the ingredients I had already discovered that not only smelled delicious but worked wonders for the skin, nervous system, and overall well-being.
I left that afternoon with lots of ideas dancing in my head. I wanted to know everything I could about natural perfumes, and part of me wondered whether I could make something myself. Back in the United States I scoured the Internet and turned to many books in search of natural perfume. Lucky for me, I discovered Mandy Aftel and her amazing books. After a couple of years of daydreaming and another European trip, the power of possibility became a lot clearer. This time I came back determined to make my dream a reality. I enrolled in a course in the UK, and met a wonderful teacher, Karen Gilbert. This is how my journey began.
Illustration of Mirabella Perfumes flacon
Handcrafted things that are luxurious in their raw state are very important to me. My goal is to create a natural perfume using only sustainable materials while helping small farming communities along the way. I want to show people how nature + luxury can mix perfectly in a bottle. Small batches, attention to detail, and sustainability in all aspects of my business are what make me most proud. I want to make my clients feel as if they are pampering themselves when they wear my perfume. I want them to stand out from the crowd and feel like they have finally found a bottle of perfume they love from start to finish.
My hope is to give them a gift of nature in a bottle.
Marbella Perfumes Ever Present being made
On being an American Perfumer: I came to the United States when I was 12, escaping communism and Nicaragua’s Civil War. I feel the utmost gratitude to my beautiful adopted country, and I am incredibly honored to be featured in the American Perfume series. It’s not a coincidence that I’m preparing this article on the 4th of July, as it could not be more representative of the freedom and opportunity we celebrate today. This country has always allowed me to go as far as my dreams can take me, and I am deeply grateful to be an American.
After three years, the first fragrance, Marabella Perfumes Ever Present will be launching on July14th. I wanted to create something that was fun, light, and airy and a reminder to take in the every day beauty around us.
Robert Frost, circa 1942 By Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff photographer – Library of Congress.
Favorite American Artist: I have many favorite American artists, but the first one that comes to mind is Robert Frost and his beautiful poem, The Road Not Taken. Though this poem has many meanings, to me it represents staying present on the path, daring to dream and taking risks, and as for me… it has made all the difference.
–Helida Dodd, founder and Perfumer of Marabella Perfumes
Marabella Perfumes Ever Present
Thanks to Helida Dodd of Marabella Perfumes we have a draw for a registered user in the US for a 50 ml bottle of Ever Present. To enter the draw, you must be a registered reader. Please leave a comment with what you found fascinating about Helida’s path to perfumery and if you follow our series. Draw closes 7/13/2021
Marabella Perfumes Ever Present: Neroli, Yuzu, Litsea Cubeba (which smells a little like lemongrass), Mimosa, Jasmine. Vanilla, Tonka and Copaiba (which to Michelyn’s nose has a resinous, warm, slightly sweet, woody aroma)
Helida Dodd of Marbella perfumes is 160th in our American Perfumer Series, which officially began with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes on July 11, 2011
Editor’s Note: Since I began this series a decade ago, ÇaFleureBon has supported American perfumers. Some are well known nd some like Helida Dodd, just beginning their company. Please support American Perfumery. It is the small independent olfactive artists like Helida who sponsor many of our draws. You can purchase a sample of Ever Present here,
All photos belong to Helida unless otherwise noted.Ç
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