As Maroma of Auroville gets ready to open its Chennai store, Paul Pinthon and Laura Reddy open up about their line and what goes into it.

There is much more to life than just living. One is honour-bound to make life beautiful for oneself and for others. Paul Pinthon has made this motto his byline He came to Auroville from France, 36 years ago, in answer to a call to his soul.

Beginnings

“At that time, there were just 350 people in Auroville. It was a huge barren land, like a desert. I started life in Auroville by baking bread. I wanted to make incense and aromatics; so I spent the morning at the bakery and the afternoons researching fragrances. Four years of bread and research; then I quit bread-making, and set up Essence D' Auroville. In between, I left for four years - from 1980-84 - to plant 24, 000 trees in Auroville helping to green this once-desolate land. In 1984, I took up the company again, met Laura, and the magic of Maroma happened. We wanted our project to be most perfect, and beautiful. It is our aspiration; the core is spiritual, a means of consciousness to matter, evolution and transformation. Forty-five per cent of our profits go to Auroville to make it flourish,” says Paul, beaming with well-deserved pride.

Laura Reddy, an American who studied at the Ashram school, believes in karma yoga to become better as a person and to constantly better one's work. “Our hallmark is quality, perfection and devotion, achieved over the last 36 years. Quality is our mantra! There is no compromise whatsoever, and hence our products may be a little expensive. Maroma USA in Miami annually launches two lines each season; in eau de toilettes, perfume and sprays. Our products are available worldwide — in the U.S, Canada, Europe, U.K, Italy, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan and India. India is a good emerging market, with outlets coming up in Chennai, Bombay and Delhi,” says Laura.

Paul is passionate about his work, a wizard at mixing and creating heavenly fragrances with a strong head for finances too. His office has been designed to look out into a glass-enclosed Zen-like space created by an old existing tree, a large rock and a spread of sand, carefully striped, and maintained. Walking around the large unit brings a sense of awe at the simple beauty of handmade products — workers roll incense sticks in unimaginable colours, creating a constant musical hiss.

Cardboard boxes and paper wrappers, simple works of art to encase the lovely products, are being made by women. Hot wax is being poured carefully into all manner of moulds: from terracotta to glass. The colours are incredible and so are the perfumes of these gently aromatic candles, their shapes and designs simply unique.

The fresh scent of oranges wafts up on bending over orange-coloured wax. Singular black and white candles, a tribute to Paul's research, sit alongside pale pinks, greens and yellows. The latest design is truly flamboyant; the candle is partially encased in polished granite! Each of these candles is a design statement; nothing else can hold a candle up to them!

Range of products

Perfumed sachets, anti-insect sachets, perfumed miniscule bags of denim on key rings, anti-mosquito sprays, shoe freshener... and now Maroma's new range of body-care products: three fragrances in the men's line and Sumaya for women with a youthful flowery bouquet. Attar, floral and fruity perfumes with a hint of vanilla are part of the new list. An Ayurvedic line too is to be launched in future with extensive research now being done in preparation.

Maroma is a wonderland firmly rooted in sensibility. Its policies include employing only adults; encouraging mostly women. Strict hygiene is followed and taught to the staff and savings schemes and nutritious snacks benefit them. The emphasis is on manual labour, as Paul wishes to provide employment for the locals.

The beautiful range of soaps is moulded by hand in a simple machine; each one individually stamped, a product of art and pride. The natural is adhered to, in colouring, and the barest minimum use of chemicals.

Maroma brings out the beauty of India, in a highly polished manner, wafting across oceans and seas, continents and nations. Individual dedication has made the Maroma success story, bringing aroma and light into many lives; both buyers' and workers. Perhaps, life can be a bed of roses, after all!

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Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012