INSIDE WILD OLIVE: ARTISTIC APOTHECARY AND PERFUMERY HOUSE
Nestled in Cape Town, Wild Olive is a perfumery house producing the African-made products, while educating and empowering local staff in perfumery and craft.
Sitting on the slopes of Table Mountain is Wild Olive – an artisanal Apothecary and Artistic Perfumery House established in 1997. From this hamlet, products are born that are inspired by the Original People and the Floral Kingdom of the Cape of Africa.
Wild Olive manufactures bath, body, home and perfumery products, mostly inspired by African cultures and traditional African medicine. This means selecting natural local ingredients – which in many cases are bought directly from local farms.
“Wild Olive is a Cape Town-based perfumery… we would like to promote our African indigenous botanicals with the idea to bring recognition back to our continent”, says Marioara de la Tara, the Creative Director at Wild Olive Artisans.
Marioara purchased Wild Olive in 2007, originally with the intent of using the business as a platform for education for the Xhosa speaking people hailing from the Transkei, who migrate to Cape Town. While her business has grown, Marioara continues to teach English and other skills such as soap making, candle pouring and cosmetic manufacturing to her staff, which are at the core of the company.
For the talented team who bring Wild Olive to life, perfumery is a passion –one that is passed between families. For Dispatch and Perfume Lab Assistant, Yakha Ningiza, value is in the form of learning new things, developing new skills, and, in her words, ‘proving that we are the best at what we do’.
“I started working here in 2017”, says Yakha. “I fell in love with the philosophy of the business and their vision and I wanted to be a part of that. My mom has been here since 2009, and I’ve learned from her and her colleagues… I would really love to pass it on to the next generation.”
“We make about 365 different products and everything is handmake by our artisans who have over a decade of experience”, says Marioara. “Learning perfumery is like learning music – it’s a 1% talent and 99% effort. You exercise your memory in terms of recognising smells but also in terms of understanding the relationship of one material and another.”
For those looking for their own signature scent, Wild Olive delivers “If you come to have a perfume made, it’s like going to a psychologist”, says Marioana. “We have to desiccate your entire personality. We are visiting moments that were impressive to you in your childhood; smells, memories, or smells that you like that give you a certain feeling.”
“We select the materials that we will use in the perfume and of course, those are not the only materials that we will use, and then we start drafting the versions.”
For Marioana, maintaining an immaculate craft is key to representing African-made products on the world stage, and keeping local partnerships help enhance Wild Olive’s offerings.
“We collaborate with other South African businesses. Each one of them takes the same amount of time and effort to educate their craftspeople. We all have the same mission, which is to make a product of very high quality that would help us be a good ambassador for a good African-made product.”
The team at Wild Olive put their success as thanks to a clear mission, tenacious structure, planning, resilience and the ability to listen extremely carefully to their customers’ suggestions and needs.