We spoke with Emily L'Ami, one half of the husband and wife team of Bodha, about ritual, working with your spouse, and a NASA article on what the moon smells like.
How did you get started with Bodha?
It all started years and years ago when I learned that when you smell something, you’re literally breathing a little bit of it in. I became obsessed with scent, aromatherapy, and perfumery. My parents used incense when I was growing up, and I loved the ritual, but not the smoke, so I decided to begin by seeing if we could do incense in a different, more subtle and refined way. I spent a year trying to find someone in Japan to work with but couldn’t get anywhere. Then I bought a bike from a Japanese brand and after making the sale the owner brought out the most amazing box of incense and incense tools. It turned out his grandfather was an incense ceremony master, and we were off!
You make Japanese smokeless incense. Can you tell us more about the what makes this type of incense unique?
Our incense are made on a small ‘incense island’ off the coast of Japan. They’re made the traditional way, which involves mixing a special wood powder with essential oils to create a dough which is then kneaded, extruded into sticks and allowed to slowly air dry.
You’ve named your incense based on different types of moods or feelings. Are there times you are drawn to one of your scents versus another?
Totally, and I love the little moment of connection where you check in with your body and mind and ask yourself what you’re needing. I often use Purify at the beginning of a new week, when I’m writing my to-do list, and on new moons. Ground is my go-to scent after any kind of travel because of its earthy notes. Refresh is my morning scent: I light a stick, grind my coffee and start the day off right. And Calm is my evening and meditation scent.
Bodha is a husband/wife team. What is it like to work with your spouse everyday?
It’s amazing! My husband has his own design studio, and I do strategy and account management for him while he does design and packaging for me. I love the variation, and feeling like a team, supporting and cheerleading each other along.
You design to encourage, and speak often of, ritual. How do you bring ritual into your daily life?
Rituals are so important; they’re like little touchstones that keep you connected to yourself amidst the ups and downs of daily life. I have a morning ritual – lighting a stick of Refresh incense, hand-grinding my coffee and sitting down to write my list for the day. Then I have an evening ritual – lighting a stick of Calm incense, doing 20 minutes of meditation and noting three things I’m grateful for. They’re both super simple but they’re like book-ends to my day that keep me feeling calm and connected.
We’re New Yorkers who fantasize about being in L.A. all the time. Where are your favorite parts of L.A. and where do you like to spend your time?
I love to get into nature – a hike in one of the many amazing canyons or some time by the ocean. And I love food – my top three places to eat are Baroo, Gjusta and the La Isla Bonita taco truck!
What’s next for Bodha?
I’m deep in perfume school at the moment and I’m dreaming of creating a Bodha perfume connected to the smell of the moon. I read a NASA article about it years ago and I can’t stop thinking about it.