‘Raw Spirit’ Fragrance Collection
Presented by Nomad Two Worlds
Ideal Find: ‘Raw Spirit’ Fragrance Collection presented by Nomad Two Worlds
Founder: Russell James, internationally celebrated fine art and fashion photographer
Authentic Dedication: Nomad Two Worlds partners with indigenous and marginalized artist and communities around the world to bring you culturally inspired products and art. We strive for fairness, mutual respect, authenticity, and long-term economic outcomes from our partners as we combine ancient knowledge with the best of modern technology and design in the spirit of collaboration and sustainability.
Lauroly Opening- Welcome Russell! I am so honored to feature ‘Nomad Two Worlds’ in the ‘Ideal Finds’ department of World Wise Beauty. Your socially conscious venture is a perfect example of what I call an “Ideal Find’. Our mantra at World Wise Beauty is ‘to be comfortable in your own skin’ and we celebrate ‘ideals for wellness culture’. One way of being comfortable in your own skin is to live in alignment with your personal values. We can start this by being a socially conscious lifestyle consumer and only purchasing products that authentically speak to our personal values. Your personal journey and development of ‘Nomad Two Worlds ‘ has a wonderful growth trajectory–evolving from a photography/art collaboration project in Australia to a socially responsible global business. Let’s get started with what personally inspired you. You started out as an accomplished photographer who became inspired by a speech from your Prime Minister in Australia made publically in 2008. Why did this particular speech resonate so much with you?
Russell James, Founder, ‘Nomad Two Worlds’ and
‘Raw Spirit’ Perfume Collection
Thank you for that fine introduction Lauroly! What inspired me in 2008 really has its roots back in my early teens in the mid-70’s. I was born and raised in Western Australia, one of the most remote and vast regions in the world. My father was a policeman, often transferred to work in very isolated towns around the state, and when we moved to a remote community called Derby, I saw first-hand the social devastation that had befallen the Indigenous people of Australia. I don’t think any place or time in my life ever affected me more than the two years we spent there. The conditions I saw were troubling and often appalling. Back in the seventies there still existed an unofficial, but very real, segregation, like ‘black’ and ‘white bars’ (the ‘white’ bar was carpeted, quiet and had waiters, the ‘black’ bar was more like a concrete cage). There were different levels of medical treatment and basically a near total disregard for the daily crime and violence that occurred on the nearby reservation communities – unless it directly affected the township of Derby or a white person. I saw terrible acts of violence, alcoholism and general social dysfunction. At that age it was very hard to make sense of. I had grown up thinking Australia was all about ‘a fair go for all’ but there was nothing fair about this.
Up until then my history learnings of Australia had been only about the 200 years post-settlement. I had no idea about the 50,000 years of Aboriginal culture and history before the settlers got there. 50,000 years! That’s about how long it is estimated that Indigenous Australians have been there. Only decades later did I have the capacity to really understand that what I saw growing up were the consequence of genocide and forced relocation, the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families and homes. The damage that did to the fabric of that culture, to the survivors’ sense of identity, self-esteem, and ‘family,’ is still coming to bear. It is an amazing testament to the strength of the Aboriginal people of Australia is that as a culture, it has endured. Despite being threatened to the core, somehow the elders had preserved knowledge, art and language. In 2001, having long reflected on this conflict I witnessed as a kid, I began to try to express some of the emotions that I felt associated with the issue, and I began Nomad Two Worlds as a photographic exploration on the clash of ancient and modern cultures: the “innocence” of past, the “inhibition” of a conflicted present, and the “discovery” of a reconciled future together.
Then, in 2008, the Prime Minister of Australia did ’the right thing’. To the shock of the global politics, he assembled Parliament and invited all significant elders into to the circle. Televised to one of the widest audiences Australia has ever had, Kevin Rudd made an absolute apology to its Indigenous people for past mistreatment – for the past actions of governments and parliaments before him. In summary, he said “we cannot take away the unbearable pain you have suffered; however, we can take responsibility for the future”. I was so incredibly struck by that speech. By the intent and the hope it contained. And I began evolving my photo collection into the collaborative art collection it is today. It was my own, small, very personal, way of playing a part in “reconciliation” ~ through artistic collaboration with Indigenous Australian artisans. I had no idea it would become as big as it did! I had no idea we would evolve it into collaborations with other cultures, or evolve it into the “meaningful luxury” culturally relevant products “incubator” that it has become! It has been an incredible, and incredibly gratifying, journey!
Bijou Vert–Raw Spirit Collection
Lauroly Q- Your story is so compelling and wish I had more space to cover the whole development of your foundation and business. I encourage our readers to visit your beautiful website and learn more about the projects Nomad Two Worlds has spearheaded around the world. Focusing on the more recent developments with your global business, tell us more about your involvement with the Clinton Global Initiative. You have been developing a project called ‘Soulful Senses: Connecting Communities and Consumers’. This socially driven project has somehow engaged the renowned perfumer “Firmenich” and you are rolling out 10 new fragrances over the course of two years. Firmenich has created many of the of the world’s best known perfumes and flavors enjoyed around the world. Your Raw Spirit ‘Fire Tree’ and ‘Bijou Vert’ fragrances were even nominated for prestigious FiFi awards in the fragrances industry! This is all very impressive but the important takeaway is you identify indigenous and marginalized communities in Haiti, the Amazon, Australia and the U.S and have them work with you on the commercialization of novel ingredients and showcase these unique ingredients to the consumer market. Can you share more on how your “Raw Spirit’ business is helping these marginalized communities you cooperate with. How does it all come together?
Nomad Two Worlds and Clinton Global Initiative
The ‘Raw Spirit’ fragrance collection is a jewel I revere. What does an Aussie boy know about fragrances? Not much but I’m learning! Overall, Nomad Two Worlds has a mandate to work with developing artists and artisans from indigenous and marginalized communities. This has included activities like sponsoring inter-tribal gatherings to discuss product development and economic opportunity, supporting previously unknown indigenous artists to be able to be on stage with the likes of Hugh Jackman on Broadway where they can share language and culture.
‘Fire Tree’ –Raw Spirit Collection
We started just with the art but as it grew, and as I met and started speaking with former President Clinton and Sir Richard Branson about Nomad, they changed my perception of Nomad as an “art project” and I started to see how we could take a much bigger step towards reconciliation, and closing that ever-widening gap that affects most ancient and indigenous cultures. I saw more clearly the broader opportunity of our concept of “meaningful partnership” in addition to our philanthropic and messaging endeavors. So in 2011, the business of Nomad Two Worlds was formed, with the same socially conscious mandate. We started the “Raw Spirit” fragrance line when we were approached by key members of the Nyoongar community in Western Australia. They are the traditional keepers of the Fire Tree, a plant that produces the most amazing oil, the essence of which was often used in ceremony for people to “find the right vibrational connection”, and asked us to help them bring this “cultural” oil to some type of commercial outcome.
We realized that we could be of enormous help in branding, finding a commercial deal, and helping them tell the world the story behind this authentic raw material. We launched Raw Spirit ‘Fire Tree‘, and very quickly saw an amazing model for how to collaborate, create a new demand for a unique raw material, and how to effectively work in the spirit of true partnership as opposed to the exploitation that has long been the norm in how many modern businesses relate to ancient and indigenous cultures. With that successful launch behind us, we made the “Soulful Senses” commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), alongside fellow CGI members Firmenich, and expanded the line.
Russell James in Haiti
It now includes two new Haitian vetiver fragrances, part proceeds from the sale of which go back into sustainable Haitian agricultural projects through Firmenich (they have an extraordinary “sustainable sourcing” mandate), and two new Australian sandalwood and boronia fragrances, part proceeds from which go back to support sustainable Australian Indigenous agricultural projects in collaboration with Essential Oils of Tasmania. At the end of the day, for me though, it comes back to kids. We all know that our future lies in the hands of children everywhere. As my Aboriginal skin mother, Olive Knight, taught me in the desert in 2008, “we are the mothers of all kids everywhere.” It took a while for that to sink in, but I came to realize that if we demonstrate to them respect, collaboration and connection, it will inform them and allow them to carry that into the future.
‘Desert Blush’ –Raw Spirit Collection
Lauroly Q- Wow Russell, it’s so inspiring to hear your personal story and learn how your conscience evolved through life experience and exposure to another culture. Your heart just expanded and we just know there is ‘soul’ in Nomad’s business mission. As members of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Nomad and Firmenich have committed to create ten new ‘Raw Spirit’ fragrances over the next two years. Desert Blush is the fourth addition to the line. It is described as an efflorescent spring and summer scent featuring Australian Boronia, a small, pink flower that gives the scent its unique floral note, blended with ylang ylang, osmanthus, jasmine petals, violets, the dry warmth of premium wild harvested Australian sandalwood, cedar wood and musk. Master Perfumer Harry Fremont was quoted saying “For Desert Blush, I was very happy to work with the unique ingredient, Boronia Absolute which captures the romanticism of the Australian landscape in a floral slightly fruity way, and combines so well with the mineral aspect of Australian Sandalwood.” Sounds divine! There are still six more fragrances to come. What other regions of the world will you be collaborating with?
Russell James: Our product line partnerships very closely follow our art collection developments. We are looking at expanding our Native American collaborative collection, and at creating some art with Brazilian/Amazonian artists. So our next fragrances will most likely be based on Native American ingredients and then Brazil.
Lauroly Closing- Thank you for taking time to share your amazing story with me Russell. Nomad Two Worlds ‘Raw Spirit’ fragrance collection is truly an “Ideal Find’ and I can’t wait to see what other products and projects you develop moving forward. Please stay in touch with us!
I don’t know about you World Wise Beauties but “Raw Spirit’ is a fragrance collection I will be very proud to wear. Which one speaks to your ‘raw spirit’? I am loving the Bijou Vert. To order your unique fragrance please visit Nomad Two Worlds’ beautiful website and for more on the ‘Raw Spirit’ collection. What I love about “Ideal Finds’ is you feel good giving them and you feel good receiving them! It turns out aligning your values with your lifestyle really ‘feels good’ and it is stories like Russell’s that inspire us and remind us just how interdependent we all are in this world.
Good reason to stick together don’t you think? 😉