The Story of Kiele – Our NEW Gardenia Fragrance

The Story of Kiele – Our NEW Gardenia Fragrance

When the dew-laden breeze of the upland creeps swiftly down, it brings with it the fragrance of the gardenia…

- Hawaiian Proverb

The Inspiration 

Kiele is the culmination of a sweet dream over ten years in the making. It all began with a conversation with an older Hawaiian aunty about how I’d been having a difficult time sleeping because of my anxiety. Her advice? To gather fresh gardenia blossoms and place them at my bedside. She told me that their fragrance would calm my thoughts and give me a peaceful sleep. She was absolutely right! I’ve kept a small vase of these freshly-cut gardenia on my nightstand ever since.

There are many varieties of gardenia that bloom here in Hawaii – each with their own unique aroma. There is the Gardenia Jasminoides or Hawaiian Kiele, which gives our fragrance its name. Their scent is buttery and creamy, a heady, luxurious scent that is truly unparalleled. There is also the Tiare or Tahitian Gardenia which is rich, sweet with slight notes of citrus. The tiare has a scent almost like tuberose, smelling like the warmth of a tropical summer. 

When the gardenia is in full bloom on the farm, it is heaven on earth. It’s not just the intoxicating scent of the blooms themselves – it’s mingled with the smell the fresh morning dew on their petals, the warmth of the tropical breeze, and the sweetness of the damp earth, covered in citrus peels from fallen fruit. Ever since that conversation with Aunty, I knew I wanted to capture this intoxicating scent – the luminous gardenia in its natural state.


The Ingredients & Sourcing 

Crafting a natural fragrance that expresses the essence of fresh gardenia was no small undertaking – it required a perfectly balanced proprietary blend of exotic oils from around the world. 

One of the gardenia oils in Kiele is grown organically in the cool Maui upcountry mist on the slopes of Haleakalā, crafted using one of the world’s most ancient fragrance extraction methods – enfleurage. In this process, hundreds of fresh flowers are placed in carrier oil inside of a temperature-controlled glass distiller, which slowly diffuses their scent into the oil over a course of three months. 

Another gardenia oil comes from a small, family-owned organic farm in Bali that does not cut down any trees for production. They use zero-waste production practices without plastic or chemicals, specializing in one of the finest processing methods available – the CO2 Supercritical method. This process produces the most pure and potent essential oils possible, retaining delicate flower essences that are lost in virtually all other conventional methods of processing. The oils they extract are derived from flowers that have been sustainably harvested throughout Southeast Asia, and many that are wildcrafted directly from Bali and Jakarta.

The tiare oil in our blend is sustainably sourced and wildcrafted from French Polynesia. Tiare flowers are a national symbol of Tahiti, often celebrated as the flower of affection. The fragrance oil is created a in a slow process where fresh tiare blossoms are submerged in coconut oil, slowly infusing it with their fragrance. 

The quality of fresh botanical ingredients in Kiele is unparalleled, and the slight fluctuations in aroma from the different seasons has been such a joy to experience during the last year of formulation. Each batch of this enchanting fragrance is fresh and intimate, and the ingredients we use in our production are often made just for us.


Keep Exploring
In Hawaii, we call the time spent causally chatting with dear friends Talk Story. Sharing what’s new and being there for the things that matter most. We invite you to join the Leahlani community as we explore skincare and much more.