How harnessing your sense of smell can enrich your life

Scent docent Terees Western talks ancient smelling practices, sustainability in scents and why we should pay more attention to the smells around us.

Photo credit: Sophia Jozwiak/WDET

Sweet scents like vanilla can be very comforting while lavender aromas can help chill you out, Terees Western says.

Terees Western has a unique talent for the olfactory world – that’s the way we perceive the world around us through our sense of smell. Western is a scent docent, a perfumer and the founder of FragranTed, where she helps clients create rich sensory experiences through fragrance and flavor.

“Think of it as wine tasting for the nose,” she says. “That’s what my business is about from an educational standpoint.”

Western left a job in the automotive industry to share her talent through her fragrance business. She says her sensitivity for smell was noticeable early in her childhood.

“When I was a young girl, the smell of my father’s morning routine would wake me up in the morning,” she says. “I could smell his Irish Spring soap, the Johnson’s foot powder he used, there was something mesmerizing to me about [that experience].”

“Think of it as wine tasting for the nose. That’s what my business is about from an educational standpoint.” —Terees Western

She explains that different categories of smell can evoke different emotional responses.

“Sniffing something sweet, like honey, is very comforting. Think of a little kid having an ice cream cone: vanilla, chocolate. Juicy fruits are playful, so it’s gonna calm you but it makes you still alert, whereas if you compare it to a lavender smell, lavender is gonna chill you out.”

She says that just the act of stopping to smell our surroundings can help ground us in stressful situations.

“During these times – and we’re in really difficult times – using your sense of smell, using this practice, can be another way of slowing down, another way of self-care.”

On Saturday, Western will co-host a live online class with noted San Francisco Aromatherapist, Frauke Galia, on how to “Spark Joy With  Scent.”

“This is a never-been-done event where we’re bringing people together to talk about why smelling is so important and so unique. We’re gonna be doing some live smelling and interaction so you can get in tune with your emotions and learn about the smells that feel good to you, what brings you joy and what you need.”

Listen: Terees Western talks ancient smelling practices and sustainability in scents.


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  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.