Who: Minal Bhanshali, Founder and Creative Director of lifestyle brand 7 Over 7. After spending eleven years working in communications for the global fragrance industry, Minal was keen to give in to the urge to create a collection of her own. She wanted to create a lifestyle brand dedicated to help people improve their wellness and their sense of purpose, specifically by raising their energetic effectiveness on a physical and mental level.
A long time yoga practitioner, Minal has learned to use its grounding philosophies to cope with anything life throws at her, pandemics included. She is now a trained Sivananda yoga teacher and meditation guide and this, combined with a natural curiosity around fragrance, compelled her to create 7 Over 7, which is grounded upon using rituals to rise above routine and to promote wellbeing.
We loved that Minal selects her fragrances led purely by emotions; whether it is to feel a more heightened state of joy and serenity or to help shift into a creative or a more progressive mood. The brand’s strong sustainability focus also nicely combines planet friendliness with truly gorgeous scents. We caught up with Minal to find out more.
Over the years I’ve learnt to change up my fragrance wardrobe led by the seasons and today I’m wearing Akashic Accord, a scent I created back in 2016, my very first one, which I like to wear when autumn starts to set in. I’ve always appreciated the earthy and more masculine notes in fragrance and this one is no exception.
With notes of cedarmoss, woody amber, Javanese vetyver and red pepper, Akashic Accord is a truly grounding scent. However, it has a heavy dose of softer more effervescent notes that balance out the intensity, with carrot seed, Egyptian jasmine, Indian nagarmotha and the softness of orris and cardamom. In essence this fragrance is the coming together of the sense of being rooted whilst seeking out a higher meaning, a subtle nature that carries on the ether.
Throughout lockdown, I’ve preferred not to wear a scent on my person but rather to scent the rooms in my home and set different moods in each space. I’m very sensitive to scent so need to have a steady flow of fresh air flowing through with the windows open, even in the winter months! But it’s important to me to either spritz the curtains or light a candle with a scent that gently diffuses the rooms in my home with scent.
I was taught very young to apply fragrance to fibres, for it to last longer, so I prefer to spritz fragrances over my hair and onto my clothes as opposed to spraying directly onto the skin. Where I make an exception to this is when it comes to pure fragrance oils, which I prefer to dab onto the pulse points.
I do also regularly ‘smoke’ myself with pure frankincense resin. My personal favourite is of Sudanese origin and I use it as part of a weekly ritual.
For me fragrance has always held the power to be transportive and I treasure this gift as a tool for transcending to higher frequency emotions. I believe in mindful sense gratification and being selective in how much stimulus we allow in. In modern times, where our senses are assaulted by hundreds of sources of dopamine highs, it is important to build rituals that allow ourselves to mindfully enjoy each of our senses, so that we no longer become numb and enter into our natural state – that of joy. To me, joy is in the little moments, and my practice is to tap into those moments and to ritualise them, to savour theme, becoming intentional with them.
I learnt this through experimenting with different meditative practices with plenty of trial and error. While I enjoyed using scents to go deeper in meditation, I found it a challenge to burn essential oils during meditation, as my attention would constantly drift to either topping up the oil or water in the burner, which defeated the object altogether.
I also struggled to tap into the intention I was setting during my meditations with essential oils alone. I knew through my background in working for fragrance brands that while naturals are always great, where responsibly sourced and sustainable, it is the use of synthetics in perfumery that really elevate the sensory and olfactive experience.
As a great journalist friend of mine said so aptly, synthetics are the special effects of fine perfumery. They blend so well with naturals and essential oils and when composed well, carry the power to help us truly transcend an environment. That was what was missing for me during my meditations, being able to really use my sense of smell to retreat within.
And so started this journey of creating a sensory experience that held the same impact as affirmations do in meditation, to carry an intention that alters our state of being. We all have within us a place of wisdom, harmony and strength. This inner resource that is ever-present and there for us to tap into. A resource that is accessible through introspection, self-discovery and through retreating within. Tuning into this wisdom, this voice that often murmurs requires a regular practice. Some days it is loud and clear, other days it takes some tuning into.
My purpose for my brand is to help more people tap into their sense of intuition by getting ritualistic and to rise above routine. We’re starting with a very exciting collaboration with floral engineers Blooming Haus, with whom we’ve co-created a selection of festive wreath and scented candle bundles. We’ll be delivering DIY wreath making kits at home as well as hosting workshops with a guided meditation to help induce flow states that optimise creativity and insight through engaging in the mindful activity of floral design.
This is more crucial to me than even applying scent to myself as I am overly sensitive to my environment. I have a weekly ritual of smudging the home with sage, lavender or palo santo followed by lighting candles throughout the home and lightly scenting the curtains and bed linen. It is my way of preparing for a new week. I rarely go without doing this ritual.
I’ve just completed working on Akashic Accord so that it can be interpreted in a candle form, set to launch in the New Year. During my time working across many fragrance houses and working with some incredible perfumers, I am now more selective in who I chose to work with when finessing the scents I create. For this one I’ve had the pleasure of working with the talented British perfumer, Harry Sherwood. Harry and I have a mutual love for some of the ingredients we chose to create Akashic Accord and it’s been a real challenge to achieve a fragrance that has this strong duality coming through in its composition.
I’m a fan of synthetic ambergris, which isn’t so uncommon but tends to have a marmite effect on people. I personally love the blended marine aroma with earthy characteristics and it features in ‘wilful tonic’, one of my personal favourites from the line up of the seven candles we have today.
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