Down to Earth has been dedicated to offering fine aromatics since 1992. Not only do we have one of the largest Essential Oil collections this side of the Mississippi, we offer a fine selection of blends to complement your aromatic needs. Following in the tradition of the Apothecary, we create our own original formulas including body oils, lotions, balms and other body care products.
Eva TerashimaA Visit with Eva
“It smells like liquid velvet,” Eva hands a bottle of vetiver essential oil to me. “If you could put velvet in the air.” She is letting me visit with her while she blends aromatherapy oils – a privilege reserved for old friends she doesn’t get to see often.
Twenty years ago Eva worked her magic and helped me find some solace in the face of my teenage struggles. The anxiety that ruled my then life manifested in a horrifying acne that magnified everything else. Through Eva I found the path to calm, and to a sense of personal beauty that had seemed elusive since the age of nine. Now I am back again, this time seeking a little bit of the special magic that only Eva’s blends seem to vibrate with. She caresses the bottle and puts it back in the apothecary cabinet. Taking in the beautiful dark wood and glass cabinets that sparkle with colored bottles, I grin and comment “Eva, you’ve come a long way from that table at Riverfest.”
In 1992 on Riverfest weekend Eva set a table up on the sidewalk by the Ice House filled with candles, oils, incense and sterling silver jewelry. Business textbooks would call it a “pilot program”. For Eva it was about seeing if her dream was just a fantasy or if it could be a reality? The golden pink streaks across the sky on Sunday evening seemed to confirm her sense of success. “I kept those tables up on Water & Dock on the weekends before I started bartending at The Ice House,” Eva recalls. Then in the spring of 1993 Down To Earth moved inside: to the old ship chandler’s space behind the Ice House. I remember at the tender of age of 12 stepping into the space for the first time. It was like visiting Aladdin’s Cave: through the heady scent of incense the jewelry case twinkled from across the room begging you to come try on rings and filled with treasures that you had dreamed about but never thought you might see outside of a book. The candles, sculptures and ornaments were and endless and enticing.
“It also had no air conditioning,” Eva recalled. “That first summer all the candles melted!” By the fall she signed a lease for a space at The Cotton Exchange. But really, this story started in Columbus, Ohio, at the public library. “I was in the old book section and I found a book about kitchen cosmetics for women that was written during World War II- when you couldn’t get lotion because it contains glycerin,” Eva recalls. “You know it was used for making bombs. So women had to make things at home from what was available.” Fascinated, Eva found herself engulfed in a wave of nostalgia for her grandmother. “She would save cooking grease in pickle jars under the sink. Once a year she would make up soap – it was a three day process!” A cauldron in the yard, and series of filtering screens made by Eva’s uncles were essential pieces. But it was the little cobalt blue bottle that was seared into Eva’s memory. “It had an old-timey label on it and it was real lavender oil,” Eva recalls. “I don’t know where she got it. This was the early ‘80’s – no one had heard of ‘aromatherapy’.” It became a quest – finding that lavender oil. “I smelled every lavender I could find – I even went in to Victoria’s Secret!” Eva laughs. Again, it was a library that held the answer – this one in Wilmington, North Carolina. “Have you ever heard of The Thomas Registry?” Eva asks. “They were big, green books, and they listed every business in America.” She poured through them finding sources, taking home the information, testing and perfecting, then returning again and again to the library.
“I was enthralled with the making – the blending,” Eva notes. Looking at the lotions, bath salts and oil blends that proliferate in Down To Earth, it is not hard to understand that the creation clearly has Eva’s heart. “Yes,” she smiles, “I am happiest right now spending time in my lab.” What a laboratory – it really does remind one of an alchemist’s tower: scales, graduated cylinders, bottles, vials and canisters of delights await on every surface. How could she not be enchanted to be here? There is so much to adore. “There is a sacredness, an evocation of meaning, with the history of scent and aroma,” Eva nods. She has watched it happen to others, too. “I have seen people time travel with a scent they haven’t smelled in 15 or 20 years.” She pauses, “It is so profound when it happens, even as a witness, it is intense to be part of.”
We look around at the current setting for Down To Earth, a magical place filled with rich textures and I ask Eva, “Did you intentionally try to recreate Baldini’s workshop from Perfume?” It is a book that I know is important to Eva. How can it not be? Scent is the driving force of the narrative- much like Eva’s own endeavor – blending, creating, discovering the depth of scent – it is a never ending mystery. She flashes her own enigmatic smile and hands me a potential blend with the question, “Where does this take you?”