Interview with owner Trygve Sahar Harris – Our Woman in Oman
Trygve is currently a resident of Oman where she settled 6 years ago. WestView News interviewed her in New York where she has an apartment. This California native is a world traveler by necessity, since the 162 essential oils sold by her New York business are sourced from 22 countries. As she inspected farms and created affiliates worldwide, Trygve says she developed a special attraction to Oman, the source of frankincense. She now feels at home there.
Trygve rents a villa in the city of Salalah, Oman, of which one half is her residence and the other half the headquarters of her newest business of distilling and selling frankincense. She is completely on her own there. All her friends are locals. They speak a patois of Arabic, Hindi and English. She may be the only western business owner in the area and is certainly the only woman business owner. Salalah sounds like a beautiful city, being near both the gulf and the mountains, with lush vegetation thanks to being in a monsoon zone. Oman is described by Trygve as prosperous and stable under an enlightened Sultan. The country promotes eco-tourism.
As she explains, frankincense comes from the genus Boswellia Sacra tree which grows in Oman and Somalia. The several varieties of the tree, which produce sap at different times, are tapped as we do for maple syrup. She gently distills the frankincense in small quantities using a water process without pressure. She sounds a bit upset when she describes the harsh, high pressure process used by industrial distillers. Demand for her product outstrips her production capacity, keeping her very busy. Nevertheless, she started making frankincense ice-cream for a local restaurant and for a market. It is also selling out as fast as she can make it.
In the New York shop, frankincense is the #2 selling oil after lavender. It sells for $25, $45 or $121.50 in quantities of 5, 10 and 30 ml. Drinking a glass of water with a drop of frankincense is recommended for indigestion. It is also used topically and in the bath.
Enfleurage is an old French technique for slowly extracting oils from flowers in a cold process of several steps. After learning enfleurage in France, Trygve started her business in SoHo in 1994. She moved to Bleecker Street, below Christopher, in 1997 and to West 13th Street last November. The new proximity to Integral Yoga seems like a better fit than to the fashion shops which have opened on Bleecker Street. In fact, Enfleurage dropped most of the soap and shampoo lines it had carried, proving that essential oils can be a stand-alone business. The many products are used for the bath, for skin care such as in masques, externally for pain and stress relief, for aromatherapy, for teas and for cooking. When she branches out again, it will probably be their own line of perfumes.
Trygve tells us how fortunate she is to have a loyal, knowledgeable staff, which allows her to divide her time between Oman and New York. It’s amazing that the business works so well financially and logistically, she says. She believes that their reputation for purity is an important part of the success, as creditability is a big issue in the field. Also, it is so difficult that one must absolutely love it to succeed she believes. She clearly does.
You can visit EnfleurageEvents.com to enroll in classes taught in the shop for blending and using essential oils.
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