We recently met up with Jen Weih who launched Osmics, a local essential oil company, in 2013. When she’s not mixing and playing around with essential oils, she spends her time working for Other Sights, an organization that creates temporary artworks in public spaces, and teaching at Emily Carr University. She also dabbles in a variety of mediums with her independent art practice, everything from print and video to participatory movement events.
What are three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there? I live near Commercial Drive. I love the varied groceries, the fantastic hardware store, and the liquorice place [Commercial Drive Liquorice Parlour].
Where do you enjoy shopping in Vancouver? Tell us about some of your favourite local haunts. Pulp Fiction – great books and great recommendations; East Van Coffee Roasters for the chocolate and especially the truffles; Selectors Records for its selection, as well as their generous assistance with making selections.
What inspires you? As far as smell goes, the way that scents make me feel during the course of the day; the warmth and calmness that I get from them, and their capacity to stimulate and invigorate me. Also, the fun of discovering new and amazing scents that I would never have otherwise experienced.
Describe your favourite part of a typical Osmics day. The part where I am messing around with scents, experimenting to see what works together. I also really love talking to people about scent at sales. Granted, those aren’t typical daily things, but there is no typical day. And lots of days are not Osmics days because I am busy working on other projects or gigs.
What makes your scents unconventional? They have a very different profile than most commercial perfumes. I work a lot with base notes and the odd striking ingredient. Galbanum is in the limited edition ‘Copper Cobalt’ and it’s a very angular, almost jagged, scent. But it works when it’s paired with something smooth and spicy and sweet. And they are all natural; no synthetic ingredients.
Why do you think Vancouver is such a good city for independent design? The idea of supporting and buying local products or things that are not industrially produced but handmade is appealing to people these days. People are interested in not buying products made possible through undervaluing the work that people do or exploiting lax environmental regulations -that kind of thing. Which, of course, is great. Cash flow is also really important. There is a market for it here.
What is the most important tool in your studio? My nose! I also have some very cool scientific glass (high school style graduated cylinders).
If there was an Osmics soundtrack, what would it sound like? Today its Nils Frahm’s ‘Screws’ on permanent shuffle. Super beautiful, quiet, minimal piano (bonus: downloadable free from his site on the internet).
If you were to choose one of your scents to send to the Queen, which one would you choose, and why? The Queen? How about Queen Latifah? I’d send her Hot Alabaster; it’s secretly called the mega-mix because it has so many oils in it. It’s elegant and complex; seems appropriate.