I was born in the country of roses, but live in a time when using synthetic rose oil wouldn’t raise a brow.
When finishing school, I had a dream to work for the science of the future – chemistry. Following this dream, I graduated from university and earned a doctoral degree. At that time, I also fell in love with the mountains and spent most weekends there with my husband, my children and friends. In the mountains, amidst the wild nature I felt contented and free. One day I realized that I did not want to be the reason for animals being killed and became a vegetarian. At work, I was further venturing into the science of chemistry and gradually discovering the endless possibilities it offered. Experimenting in the lab only increased my curiosity. Thus I learnt a lot about how we humans were in the position to make analogues of nature’s creations. Together with colleagues at the academy of sciences, we registered six patents.
One day I came across an article asserting that the islands of plastic waste were already larger than those with the palm trees and the beautiful sunsets. Then, while travelling to Prague I visited an organic store for the first time and was surprised to learn that while our food and cosmetics were full of synthetic substances there were alternatives as well!
All this made me hungry to know more. And the more I read the more I realised that as a scientist I had begun losing direction. My love of the mountains and nature was inconsistent with my work and my way of life. Being a vegetarian did not compensate for the damage done to my health, the health of my family and the health of the earth when eating bread made from wheat grown with the help of loads of pesticides and herbicides. Question upon question, I came to the “how” and “why”. How do we make our food, our cosmetics, our clothing, how do we build our homes? Why do we make plastics, is life even imaginable without them? Inevitably and finally it sank in – my scientific work was a tiny part of a gigantic human effort to rule over nature and alter it without ever considering the consequences!
I paused, had a look at my PhD, at my publications and decided that I could go on only if I found a way how to apply my knowledge in chemistry towards improving humans’ and nature’s health. The fact that I had specialized in natural polymers occurring in plants came to my advantage. Venturing into the world of organic agriculture it dawned on me that this was a philosophy and way of life which stood in stark contrast to industrially processed food, mass taste and consumerism. I started travelling abroad, meeting scientists, environmentalists but also farmers who knew more about their land than some of the professors. Organic captivated me with its simplicity!
Gradually, together with my husband Ivan Ginev I realized that the time was ripe for the decision to start doing what we were best at – making Bulgarian essential oils and flower waters. We created ARMINA. With it, we invested all our knowledge, expertise and experience in a business which was to contribute to preserving Bulgarian herbs and plants without harming nature and people. We began by exporting essential oils and floral waters in bulk to wholesalers and to manufacturers of cosmetics. Than we created our own brand Armina – organic, authentic, with cause. Our company is from the land of roses and our most precious gem is our rose oil, 100% genuine without synthetic substitutes, made from the Bulgarian Rosa Damascena we grow ourselves. All our products are organic certified; most are from Bulgaria.
Ivan’s family expertise in rose cultivation dates back three generations. Here in this picture from 1938 from left to right: his uncle (a sailor); his grandfather (a farmer); his father (a musician); his aunt; his grandmother (a housewife).
And we love what we do. Retrieving long lost traditional knowledge while applying evidence-based science opens new horizons allowing us to develop sustainable farming practices and sustainable production methods. Working together with farmers we are helping them secure their livelihoods. Making high quality organic products we continue educating consumers while offering them genuine, sustainable products. And deep in our hearts, we have remained scientists. The curiosity, which was such a vital part of our work as scientists engaged in fundamental research, is still driving us towards exploring unchartered lands. Our new adventure is already in the pipe. Stay tuned for news updates.
Eng. Svetla Nikolova, PhD – ARMINA founder and CEO