2022 . 01 . 07 | written by Karen Marin

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The Five Element Theory, in which wood, fire, earth, metal and water are recognized as the basic elements of the material world, came from an ancient Chinese observation of nature. The elements represent the seasons of life, the human body, emotions. Depending on our date of birth, each of us is associated to an element which defines our personality, our characteristics, our career path, our relationships and our health. However, we are instinctively pulled towards elements we need to keep us balanced and healthy. Based on this premise, Deana Fries, founder of Elementals, has conceived of the ultimate well-being brand of truly functional fragrances that enhance our physical and mental well-being. This renegade alchemist was ten years ahead of the world when back in 2009 she had the vision of how she wanted to help people through scent. Catching up over Zoom, we talked about her brand and what well-being means in 2022.

In your own words, what is the Five Element Theory?

The Chinese theory is based on 5 elements which describe life on earth, the seasons, the life cycle. We are born in water, we grow up in wood, we reach our peak in fire, we start to age in the transition from fire to earth. When we come to metal we become wiser; when we die we go back to earth. Every element has an emotion. If someone is lacking an element then that emotion is prevalent or difficult for them.

I see you studied with a Feng Shui master. How did you get into it and in what ways has this practice affected your life?

I was living in Hong Kong when I first came across this ancient science – people think it’s hocus pocus, but it’s a science. It’s not just about moving your furniture and painting your walls a certain color – it goes so much deeper than that. I took a course to learn about it and that got the ball rolling. Feng Shui is something you never stop learning; it changes the way you look at life. Previously I was working in international marketing, pr and advertising, but when I met Grand Master Chan Kun Wah, the Feng Shui master I eventually trained with, he told me I was in the wrong profession! That was one of those moments that changes your life in the blink of an eye. I became a Feng Shui Practitioner, I study energy from both a macro (global) and micro (human) level. I study the cycles of time and how history repeats itself. I study the I Ching. I also became passionate about Chinese horoscopes and became a Master in my own right. I went to healer school, I studied anatomy and physiology and then aromatherapy and massage. After all of that I felt I was really ready to start practicing and helping people. It’s wonderful changing people’s lives and having a positive effect on them in different ways that they never anticipated.

Deana in action

Tell me the story about when you realized that the power of scent could be used in your practice.

When my husband and I moved to Dubai I opened a Feng Shui school. One day I was in my garden, I had just eaten a tangerine and then I picked a flower from a bush and I had a revelation that the combination of the two scents was what wood chi should smell like. My husband saw it first: that I could help my clients through scent to balance their horoscope. So then I went to Beautyworld in Dubai and I talked to people to learn more about the fragrance business. It was 2009, which wasn’t that long ago but in terms of mindset, it seems like a long time ago! I finally met one perfumer from a small house who loved the idea and he wanted to work with me.

Now let’s talk about creating and developing the fragrances. How long did it take?

It took about 4 or 5 years until I had the base formulas together to create bespoke perfumes for my clients, for their homes, for personal usage, all to enhance the energy of their body, of their workspace, of their business. One of my clients told me, “what you do is so powerful, you need to bring it to a larger audience, to the public” and so that’s when I started creating new formulas. A bespoke fragrance linked to one person’s horoscope is so specific but with Elementals, you’re talking about doing something completely different because it’s meant to help many people. Making the fragrances wasn’t just about creating a perfume that smells good: there is a whole science and methodology behind the scents. Every bottle is a piece of me so the fragrances have to work: if they don’t work, then I’m not interested in putting them on the market. I wasn’t really ready to launch until 2019 and I started doing tradeshows to see how people reacted. In all it was about ten years of research and development and verifying that the fragrances really work.

Tell me more about the fragrances and how we interact with them.

What I’m trying to do is also to teach people to listen to themselves and their body. Your body will tell you what you need. You could be a metal element but if your self-element is strong your body won’t want metal – it will instinctively lead you to choose another element, like water, wood or fire, depending on what is going on in and around you. We have the power to understand what it is we need. I am wood but need water, wood and metal so what are the perfumes that in the past I was drawn to? Well I had a collection of at least 100 fragrances on my dresser and there was vetiver, aquatics, and citrus fragrances. My instincts drew me to these scents. The difference between mainstream products and Elementals is that the ingredients have to be of the highest purity so they actually connect with you.

Elementals Fragrance Range
Elementals Discovery Pack

How are the fragrances constructed?

People used to think I was crazy but now perfumers want to work with me. I’m the creator of the fragrances, but I’m not the perfumer. My way of making perfume is so different, so I spoke to many perfumers in the beginning. I had a vision from an aromatherapeutic perspective. Some people had trouble understanding it. I was creating a fragrance for a gentleman who loved cigars, loved the good life, women, but he had severe depression. I asked the perfumer to overdose the formula with immortelle. It helped him to feel better. He told me women were looking at him again – well if you shift your energy you can change your life! I talk about notes as they relate to chi, your life force. Heaven’s chi, like top notes, comes in and leaves quickly. Human chi is what exists between heaven and earth, between the physical and the emotional, and relates to heart notes. Earth chi is what we need to survive in this universe, it’s what grounds us, similar to base notes.

In addition to the fragrances related to the five elements you also have Qian – what’s the story behind this scent?

First of all, it’s not the 6th element! When I launched in 2019 I wanted to create something that I would put my signature on, that would carry my energy and power. In parallel, in the book of the I Ching – a book of wisdom that I use frequently - everyone has a hexagram and Qian happens to be my hexagram. The poem from the Tao that accompanied this symbol was so powerful because it spoke about what you really need in life to be happy, and it’s simple: it’s love, contentment and humility. I thought it was so poignant for 2019.

As of 2022, I will be collaborating with young rising stars, both in the world of art and perfumery, to shed light on new talent. As we approach a new era, I am making it my mission to be a facilitator for change.


Do you have more products in the pipe?

I do have a limited edition coming out in 2022. When I saw in the I Ching what was coming in 2022, I knew I had to do something. It talks about how humankind has been through such great hardship and now is the time to come together in love and in unity. This is hopeful and positive: what better message to put out there in 2022?? I’m working with a young perfumer who is fascinated by what I do and we’re making this edition together. I give the vision and direction plus an overview of how if all needs to come together.

But I’m not stopping with fragrances: that was the beginning because it’s easier to understand the concept. This is the beginning of a whole lifestyle and well-being brand which will be Elementals Home and Elementals Spa. I’m working on perfumed body oils which marry with the perfumes and which touch the body on a more physical level. They are multi-purpose products that can go on the body, on the hair and can even be used in the bath. Since they touch the skin, the approval process is much more complicated but I plan to launch them in the second-half of 2022.

Your brand is vegan, cruelty free, gender neutral….I imagine ethically sourced and sustainable? In fact, I think you took this position long before it became the trend in fragrances?

I have my children to thank for this because they pushed me every day to be environmentally and socially conscious. My kids were bothered by the consumerism of the 80’s and they really raised my consciousness to the damage we did. Some of the values that are tied into my company include being gender neutral, being completely integrative, and being as sustainable as possible. I’m proud of our zero waste program and our linen bags, which can go into the compost where they will completely decompose, which shows the direction we are taking.

Zero Waste program

How do consumers find you? Where are your products sold?

This is the biggest opportunity. Currently we sell on our website, in some shops in Italy, in Poland and in Prague. I’m looking to enter France and Germany in 2022. I need to increase my visibility through Instagram, maximizing back end advertising, optimizing my website and doing more tradeshows. The response at Pitti in September, was overwhelming, I made a lot of contacts. I know once the name and the concept really gets out there, well, It’s going to be a very exciting year.

Deana at Pitti

As we stand on the precipice of 2022, what does well-being mean to you? What awaits us in the new year?

To me, well-being is about balance, about creating an environment that protects you and your loved ones. It is about taking care of you, listening to your body, understanding who you are, loving that person and defending your soul without compromise.

We are currently in a time of transition and in 2024 we will enter a whole new era. Our lives have been destabilized, we are afraid, and as a result, divided. We are driven by fear, more than ever. 2022 brings a whole new dimension into the equation: Harmony. The Hexagram #13 in the I Ching, ‘Tong Ren’ speaks of a people who have gone through great hardship, through a terrible time of darkness. Now is the time to cultivate harmony both within ourselves and with others. Tong Ren reveals the simple truth that if society as a whole is able to live in a spirit of equality, then peace and advancement are possible. If not there will be continued conflict and obstruction.

Hence, the choice is ours…

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All images courtesy of Elementals Fragrance