Did you know that according to The Guinness Book of World Records, the largest watermelon grown was in Arkansas and weighed 268.8 pounds? And that watermelon has significant levels of vitamins A, B6, lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids?
These are just a few facts about watermelon that are included on the visual and fact cards for one of the 20 distinctive smell prompts included in MindScent®, a patent-pending, Smell.Discover.Connect activity kit that I developed and manufactured here in the United States in 2019.
To understand how MindScent® came to be, you have to understand my professional background and some of the chronology leading up to today. I am a professional scent designer, also informally known as a "nose". I am not a perfumer (one who has been professionals trained and formulates), but rather a person who works with perfumers offering unbiased critique or creative ideas for their formulations. When people ask me how I became a "nose", I always tell them that I attribute my unusual talent to having been raised on a farm where we had plenty of good smells like fresh mown hay from the field to very bad barnyard smells! I was "discovered" when I was working as an assistant to a perfumer in a large fragrance and flavor company in New York. It was as simple as that one little test when I had to describe a perfume that a senior perfumer put on a paper blotter strip that started my 30 years of experience in the amazing and wonderful industry. Through the years, I have helped develop fragrances for all kinds of end-uses from SC Johnson's Blue Windex to the Antibacterial Soft Soap and perfumes for fashion and celebrity brands such as Beyonce, Celine Dion, Tim McGraw and Nautica.
After leaving my corporate post at Coty Beauty, I decided to focus my attention on how scent can enhance lives of underserved populations in a very unique way and after my mother passed away from dementia, I decided I would create a reminiscence therapy activity for seniors living with dementia using distinctive scent prompts such as the smell of grass, chocolate and lilac. I called area Assisted Living Communities for Memory Care and, as a volunteer, started giving what I call Essential Awakening® activities for the residents. Within 2 years, I had given more than 90 sessions to seniors with groups as little as 4 and as large as 25. Within this period of time, I realized that the scent prompts helped seniors engage in conversation and storytelling and knew I had created a valuable communication tool. This realization lead to the thought that if this exercise helps seniors communicate, could it also help children with autism communicate as well?
In early 2018 I was able to get in touch with the educational director in at a New York City school for autism where a former colleague's non-verbal son is a student. I described my concept to the director, and asked if I could come to the school to sit with some of the students to explore the viability of the product and to develop its methods for use. It was under her guidance that I began to understand the challenges of the kit, as well as the potential benefits for children with this disability. Through the course of that year, I sat with some of the students who were at different levels of ASD, and I would say that most enjoyed the process, usually played as a guessing game. The challenge was for them to match the scents to a binary or multiple choice of visuals. This part of the exercise was for the student to try and describe the scent, and to read some of the facts about the particular scent printed on the opposite side of the visual aid. I soon became known as the "lady with the smells."
I spent many nights worrying about the cost of the product concept, but when I serendipitously met a Speech Pathologist that year through a mutual friend, she was so excited about the innovative sensory tool for SLPs that I knew that I had to go forward with its development. I had already a list of brand names for the concept and sent the list to some of my trusted friends and family members to vote on. When the votes came in, I decided to call it "MindScent" and filed for the trademark. Over several months I worked hard to research and procure all the various components for the kit. I visited manufacturing sites, and made sure that components were recyclable and made in the United States. Some components came in from North Carolina, while others were sourced from New Jersey, New York and printing the boxes were right here in a town called Sandy Hook, Connecticut. In total, there are 125 components pulled together for this kit, but if I were to count all 200 paper smelling strips in the 2 packets within the kit, there are 325.
While MindScent® Smell.Discover.Connect kit was initially developed for SLPs and educators, it can also be a great learning and discovery activity the entire family can enjoy together during this challenging time of "Stay Home, Stay Safe". Each MindScent® kit contains 20 distinctive smell prompts such as chocolate, mint and campfire, accompanied by their fact and visual aid cards. Children over the age of 6 can challenge each other by playing a guessing game of "what's that smell?" keeping a scorecard on who has the best "nose". For children under the age of 6, it's best to play under the guidance of a parent or older sibling. The rollerball applicators are easy to hold, and little the paper strips that are included can be used for applying the scents. There is no alcohol in any of the formulations and safe when coming into contact with the skin, so if you like the smell of bread, you might even want to wear it!