About Mandy

About Mandy

Who Is Mandy?

My Process of Creating Perfume

I started making natural perfumes almost 30 years ago. I create each of my perfumes from the comprehensive collection of strikingly beautiful natural essences that I have assembled over the years from hidden corners of the world. Finding these essences is a quest that I enjoy as much as the act of creating with them. Often I smell a dozen versions of the same oil, searching for one that surpasses all the rest. Some of the essences in my palette are antiques that have aged for many decades, like fine wines.

Perfume Organ

Everything I make is free from synthetics, parabens, glycols, and petrochemicals. I hand-blend and bottle all my products in small batches in my Berkeley, California studio, and personally attend to every detail of the process in creating every product. I love adding a sense of luxury and well-being to people’s lives.

As the founder of Aftelier Perfumes, I have been hailed as one of the fragrance industry’s “most prolific talents” by Vogue and an “angel of alchemy” by Vanity Fair, and listed as one of the top seven bespoke perfumers in the world by Forbes. I am an advisor at The Institute for Art and Olfaction, which has created the annual Aftel Award for Handmade Perfume in my honor, and in 2022 honored me with the Septimus Piesse Visionary Award for my lifetime achievements.

Collaboration with Chefs and Flavor Work

Since 2003, I have been supplying my Chef’s Essences® to the finest chefs and mixologists, along with many artisanal producers of fine chocolate, ice cream, candies, and baked goods. I pioneered the use of essential oils in home cooking, with James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Patterson in our book Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Food and Fragrance.

I have taught about flavor at the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, California; the American Museum of Natural History; the James Beard Foundation; the French Laundry in Yountville, CA; the London Design Festival; and in conjunction with the Slow Food movement. I have made food-related media appearances on CNN, the National Geographic channel, and PBS's “Diary of a Foodie.”


I have written 5 books on natural essences & perfume:
- The Art of Flavor, a cookbook written with Michelin-star chef Daniel Patterson, helps you learn the simple rules for cooking without recipes.
- Fragrant, winner of the Perfumed Plume Award, explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, make us fully alive.
- Essence and Alchemy has been translated into eight languages and was the winner of The Sense of Smell Institute’s Richard B. Solomon Award.
- Aroma, also with chef Daniel Patterson, focuses on the essential link between food & fragrance and includes recipes for both.
- Scents & Sensibilities guides the reader through the history and creation of solid perfumes.

I am also the author of The Story of Your Life: Becoming the Author of Your Experience; When Talk Is Not Cheap; and Death of a Rolling Stone: The Brian Jones Story.

Selected Interviews and Profiles:

Salon.com: "A perfumer's obsessive quest to recreate the fragrance of lost love"
Jesse Dylan Wondros video: "Follow Your Nose | Mandy Aftel"
I Am Heretic podcast: "The Queen of Natural Perfume, Mandy Aftel"
Perfume On the Radio podcast (@21 min): "A Perfumer's Nature"
Los Angeles Public Library video podcast: "Conversations With a Natural Perfumer"
Institute for Art and Olfaction video: "Meet a Nose: Mandy Aftel"
Sir Taliafero video: "Diary of a Perfumer: Mandy Aftel"
Realize Magazine video: "Chat with Mandy Aftel"
Airmid Institute: "Mandy Aftel Sustainability Interview"
Fragrantica: "Rich and Tangled History: Perfumer and Author Mandy Aftel"
NYT Style-Singapore: "Person to Know: A Historian and Archivist of Scent"
Allure: "Women in Fragrance Are Finally Getting the Recognition They Deserve"
Perfumer & Flavorist: "The Juice: Mandy Aftel – Changing the Perfume Game"
NY Times: "The World's Most Dedicated Natural Perfumer"
Forbes: "Startup Stories - Why Doing Something You Love Is A Great Business Plan"
ELLE: "All Your Perfume Questions Answered"
The Autumn Salon: "The Alchemy of Perfume"

Mandy Talks on Arts & Ideas with Daniel Patterson at the JCCSF

Visit Mandy's Studio with
The Daily Cal

Yahoo! Second Act Studio Visit and Interview with Mandy

Mandy on Entrepreneurship & Creativity for Accomplished Minds

The Institute for Art and Olfaction 2022 SEPTIMUS PIESSE VISONARY AWARD





My mentor, my teacher and my beautiful friend Mandy Aftel, you paved the way for so many of us to practice this extraordinary art of natural perfumery.
— Douglas Little, Heretic Parfum

Mandy Aftel is a recognized authority in Natural Perfume and a true pioneer in the modern field of Naturals
— Rochelle Bloom, President, Fragrance Foundation

Mandy Aftel is one of the fragrance industry's most creative thinkers, not to mention one of its most prolific talents.
— Vogue.com

Mandy Aftel is an indisputable icon in the world of perfumery, and quite arguably, the Mother of Natural Perfumery.
— Cafleurebon

Mandy Aftel is the perfumery guru and pioneer who managed to alight an all naturals aromatics Renaissance with her body of work and especially her seminal book, Essence & Alchemy, the cornerstone on which the naturals movement has flourished.
— Perfume Shrine

Aftelier is for me and many others the gold standard of natural perfumes.
— IndiePerfumes

The trend toward using natural ingredients was pioneered by perfumer and author Mandy Aftel.
— Allure

Mandy Aftel is like the Alice Waters of American natural perfume
— Indieperfumes

Mandy Aftel has spearheaded the artisanal natural perfumery movement in the United States
— Now Smell This

Natural fragrance guru
— San Francisco magazine

Mandy Aftel is truly a fragrance genius
— Beauty View

Angel of Alchemy
— Vanity Fair

A natural perfume maker with a media dossier that rivals any A-list celebrity
— Body and Soul

Highly sophisticated blends
— Town and Country

Couture fragrance...one of Hollywood's chicest secrets
— Vogue

Aftelier Perfumes: most wanted...perfectly chic
— Harper's Bazaar