June 7, 2015

Natural Perfumes by April Aromatics

Passion Discovery

by Delia Montgomery 
Interview for Fiber Ethics Magazine,
Nova Scotia, Canada by HPI Group, (launched 2000 July). 

Published 2001 January

All of April Aromatics ingredients are organic, totally natural and free of synthetic additives. Contents are combined with 100% pure essential oils, which contain natural antibiotic, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties. German-born founder Tanja Bochnig believes her sources fulfill the most important component of any beauty product, which she says is the energy that goes into creating it.

To develop this interview, Tanja and I communicated by e-mail as she traveled to at least three different countries in just as many months. During all that jetting, I was impressed with her organization and enthusiasm, not to mention computer laptop and English fluency. Her website, www.aprilaromatics.com, was recently launched with some of her treasured photographs; a testimonial to her involvement with the harvesting and distillation processes.

Initially, the reason for her well traveled lifestyle was due to her modeling career. Tanja was taught the importance of health while she learned foreign languages and cultures. She studied homeopathy, herbals, nutrition, Reiki, Reflexology, yoga and meditation. But jet lag became a nuisance and made her feel sickly. For relief she tried some essential oils purchased from a health food store in Miami. The oils not only comforted her travels, but aided her bouts with insomnia and other petty discomforts. From there, Tanja’s thirst for aromatherapy began. Once she sought professional training, she knew she had discovered her passion.

Our interview begins with Tanja’s aromatherapy fascination which evolves into the formation of her business and her challenges today. Telecommunicating while viewing her illustrations makes me feel as though we are traveling together.

When did you leave your home in Germany for New York and why?
Eleven years ago (1990) I left my home in Hannover-Germany to become a Ford fashion model, which I still am. The travels are great with most modeling assignments in New York and Paris.

How did your career lead you to your discovery of essential oils?
Although my career provided me access to ample skin care goods, I was unsatisfied with all the artificial products on the market. My aromatic jet lag therapy confirmed my craving for pure ingredients. I discovered that essential oils helped combat many ailments. I realized that they not only smelled good, that I also felt healthy. I was intrigued.

So you decided to seek professional aromatherapy training. How would you describe your student life in the past, present and future tense?
Amongst many wonderful instructors, (including those in England, Turkey and India), I am proud to have studied aromatherapy with Micheal Scholes at his School of Aromatic Studies in California. That course required a year and a half of instructions. But during that time I was able to play and try things out. Retrospectively, I see that every teacher had another way of showing me the wonders of nature. Each time I came back home I felt so much richer in what I had learned and experienced. I plan to visit the South of France this summer for the lavender harvest and to do more plant studies with some teachers there. My aromatherapy education has become infinite.

When and how did you decide to start April Aromatics?
I decided to start April Aromatics in the summer of 1997. It was an idea, more just for fun. I gave my products a name, but it wasn't a business yet. I called it " April" because April is one of my favorite months of the year. I'm born in April. It is new beginnings. Spring means fresh and clean to me. Nature comes alive in April. I also happen to like April as a girls name. So here we go, I made little products for myself and my travels first. People kept asking me about my creams and what scent I was wearing. I gave some concoctions to friends and then they came back. They wanted more and then their friends came, and so on ... the snowball effect. I had to get professional to handle the growing demands. So my passion became my business. In autumn of 1998 I was incorporated and official. From then on I’ve had to learn all the uncomfortable sides of business life. If I had the choice, I would rather just blend all day.

How about finances? Is that the uncomfortable part?
Somewhat. My dream business was developed from my personal earnings and savings, all of which was acquired from my modeling career. I rejected the opportunity for sponsorship. It is important to me that April Aromatics is my own. I want my company to grow at its own pace.

Aromatherapy is such a broad, complex expertise with so many products that apply. How did you decide to start your initial collection?
I thought of what would be the most important skin care items to take with me on a trip and restricted my wishes to six products. Debut offerings consisted of face oil, face cream, body oil, body lotion, body wash and rose water spray. Since then I’ve added four more products and offer custom blending of absolutes and essential oils. 

Most aromatherapy suppliers claim to use pure essential oils. What are your purity standards?
I travel to countries like India and Turkey where I witnesses harvesting and distillation. It is very important for me to observe the plants being distilled, to see who does it and what energy goes into it. I get my essential oils from people who consider pristine quality crucial. All of the oils are GC tested. GC means gas chromatography, which is a special way to analyze the whole consistency of an essential oil. With this computerized method, one can see if an oil is adulterated or stretched, meaning cheap components added. So organic in this way means that the plants are grown without pesticides and in a healthy soil, in an area where the air is clean and they are harvested and distilled in a gentle manner. Base products are obtained from an all-natural supplier in California who uses organic ingredients and only natural components to produce the creams and shampoos, which I can't do in my kitchen. All other products are mixed by myself and therefore I know everything which goes into a bottle is pure. I realize that a growing number of consumers request organic certification and I am working on that now.

What are your marketing plans?
I intend to reach out to consumers through beauty and health media. I want to garner as much consumer feedback as possible to improve and expand my offerings. Plans are to see my first returns on investment by year-end.

What is your mission?
To entice customers by exuding magnetic, personal energy. Energy which I personally inject into each hand-filled bottle of natural and pure ingredients.

Tanja is having a blast as an essential oil and aroma therapist virtuoso. Much like any artist with a dream, she cherishes every opportunity to fulfill her passion. A passion so kind to organic farming and earth.

March 7, 2015

Banana Fiber Making

My last research on the production of banana fiber was four years ago. There were lots of queries I could not answer, but the global enthusiasm was wonderful. The primary question was "where do I buy the proper machine?"

Thanks to innovations, sustainable desires, the passion for ethical fashion, and good 'ole YouTube, there's more to share. Let's start with the characteristics of banana fiber:
  • The fineness and spinnability is better than bamboo or ramie fiber, although similar in appearance.
  • It's strong, yet smaller length.
  • It's light, absorbs well, and releases moisture quickly.
  • It's biodegradable and without any negative effects on the environment.
  • It can be spun through almost all the methods of spinning, including ring-spinning, open-end spinning, bast-fiber spinning, semi-worsted spinning, and more.
  • Rich McEachran of The Guardian recently (2015) writes that Offset Warehouse, an eco-textile company, partnered with NGO in Nepal to ensure that banana fabric production supports the artisan sector by relying on local skills. Nice, eh? They claim banana fiber making is nearly carbon neutral. The soft texture is similar to hemp or bamboo, which is perfect for manufacturing apparel like jackets and separates.
  • Leena Oijala published an article (2013), titled Fiber Watch: Fabric from Bananas? She writes that the stalk from bananas to fiber has been around since the 13th century. Flashback to the sustainable-natural way of living!
  • Nodus, a company that manufactures high-design rugs, writes (2013) about abaca, (banana silk), that it's valued for its exceptional strength, flexibility and resistance. The inner fibers can be used without spinning to manufacture lightweight and strong fabrics that are mainly used locally for garments, hats, and shoes.
  • Guangdong Billion Union Textile CO., LTD., a Hong Kong wholly investment company, reports (2012), that the Philippine Textile Research Institute concluded that ag waste from banana plantations in the Philippines alone can generate over 300,000 tonnes of fiber.
So there's the updates. Now, about the MACHINES ... every textile craftsman in every banana producing region of the world wants the machine!

A banana fiber decorticating machine is not an easy find, but I have a source. See the manual-style offer from Zhanjiang, China on the global trade site Alibaba.com. There you may subscribe/join to send a price query. My best guess is about USD $5000 without shipping.

As mentioned, YouTube blesses us with global videos. Check out these fiber separator instructions:
  • A couple of nice creative guys in Tamil Nadu, India illustrate that  every part of the Banana plant can be put to some use or the other.
  • Late 2009 in Malaysia, a woman demonstrates how to make thread from a banana leaf with tools, no machinery.
  • Love the 2013 video that illustrates how to make and use a homemade decorticating machine where he uses his vehicle and tires to flatten the stalks.
  • Sri Achu Fibres offers banana cloth with a video of the handloom weaving process in Tamil Nadu, India. The proprietor is certified Artisan - Banana Fibre Craft Practices (from Office of the Development Commissioner for Handicrafts, Ministry of Textile, India).
Rug supplier NODUS writes in Materials: part 1 (scroll down page), that the fibre-bearing outer layer is usually removed from the petiole by an operation in which strips, or tuxies, are freed at one end and pulled off. In the cleaning operation that follows, pulpy material is scraped away by hand or machine, freeing the fibre strands, which are dried in the sun. The strands average 1 to 3 m in length, depending on petiole size and the processing method used. The lustrous fibre ranges in color from white through brown, red, purple, or black, ― depending on plant variety and stalk position; the strongest fibres come from the outer sheaths.

That's artsy-fascinating about the colors. You know I wonder what the potential of expanding this craft is on Hawaiian islands?

Banana Fiber Production

October 20, 2014

Coconuts go High Tech

Cocona® is a patented method which infuses active particles into fibres, yarns, membranes and textile insulation. These active particles are natural and derived from natural sources such as volcanic rock or charcoal made from coconut shells.

RELATED SITES + Coconutz Cocona®

July 6, 2014

March 31, 2014

Green Car Guide 2014

Source: Fix.com

 In accordance to legislation finalized by the Obama Administration in August 2012 [4], a new car in the U.S. must average 35.5 mpg by 2016. The mpg average must increase to 54.5 by 2025. The growth of alternative fuel vehicles is promising, according to J.D. Power and Associates, the global market research firm. It reports by 2025, more than one-third of passenger vehicles will be equipped with alternative powertrains and operated with alternative fuels. About 17.5 percent of the vehicles will be hybrid gas/electric hybrids powertrains (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids [5]. Plug-in electric hybrids will comprise about a five percent share. Availability of hybrid and electric vehicles will more than double the current variety by 2016 to 159 models in the U.S., according to J.D. Power & Associates.

Read full article by James Raia ...

March 14, 2014

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The Ultimate Green Store

September 16, 2013

Fashion Rubber?

Do you know about rubber for ethical fashion? Think tubes from vehicles -- motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles. Now think upcycling and trashion.

One of the first North American companies I admired, circa 1997, was Little Earth. Although they shifted focus on different materials (mostly license plates) and sold the company, one of their first items was an upcycled rubber bag.

Then early this century came Vulcana, Inc., a company in New Jersey with a promising rubber-to-fabric patent that sold bags and accessories. Today Vulcana focuses on textiles and offers a variety of materials for upholstery, wall coverings, outdoor furniture, and much more. It's like a designers playground!

English Retreads, a Colorado company, manufacturers bags and accessories for retailers. Founder Heather English says her design philosophy is to create classic, one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items that make a high-impact fashion statement and a low impact on the environment.

I particularly love the history of two sisters in UK who established Zuss by converting old inner tubes from local bike shops into bold eye-catching hot couture, hats and accessories. Neither of them went to art or design school. Their first 1997 fashion show was a hit and the business receives global attention today.

More than a decade ago, designer Anna Cianfarani collected rubber from a local non-profit bicycle recycling source. Her New York business, Gaelyn & Cianfarani, attracted stage performers, party goers and stylists. Many of those rubber designs made magazine covers.

It's an honor to document the work of ethical companies and creative designers with a recycling focus. Their past and present creations inspire product developers everywhere.

Check out the items below, where Amazon makes it easy!

April 11, 2013

Innovative Fabric from Coffee Grinds

Did you know that coffee fabric is made in Taiwan?

Admittedly, my innovative fabric research is not up to date. Yet I am confident that unknowing textile professionals and entrepreneurs will be fascinated.

In fact, J&O Fabrics Store has a newsletter blog with a REUTERS video titled Waste Coffee Grounds Add Flavor to Fabric.

Located in Taiwan, SINGTEX® is an admirable company fixated on R+D. They came up with S.CafĂ©®  ― a patented process that converts the coffee grounds into yarn. From yarn, they manufacture knitted and woven fabrics, as well as soft-shell fabrics.

They're focused on active wear. Benefits are fast drying, anti-odor properties, and UV-protection.

A couple of years ago Eunice Tsai of DNA Design Labs launched ladies' wedding attire with the fabric. She's into eco-friendly production and happens to love coffee! Other SINGTEX customers are Hugo Boss, Patagonia, Nike, and North Face brands.

Why eco-friendly status? Because used coffee grounds are diverted from landfills, the discovery expands the life circle of coffee industry, and waste is valued. Top that with energy saved because of dual results, ―roasted beans and odor absorption qualities incorporated into fiber.

October 24, 2012

Hawaii Local Eco Artists: Miracles Through Botanicals

Hawaii Local Eco Artists: Miracles Through Botanicals
Click title above to read more
For those who are not familiar with the amazing benefits of aromatherapy it is easy to overlook Hope and Achaia's market display. Take a closer look to find not only a list of ingredients in each bottle, but the purpose of each as well. Hope is obviously a blend expert, which is a skill far beyond basic knowledge of EOs. Shop by emotions, — online or in person!

March 4, 2012

Zia & Tia Launches Dolls, Toys and Dog Sweaters

Zia & Tia launched a new collection of organic cotton hand knit heirloom Dolls & Toys as well as Dog Sweaters.

Don't forget organic hand knits for babies and children; that collection continues.

Admired Julie Jonas is a sustainable luxury designer who resides in Montreal.

Zia & Tia Intro on Feelgood Style