The Mood Factory states that scents have been used for centuries for pleasure and well-being. Ancient Egyptians kept aromatics used for medicine and perfume in beautiful bottles, which have been preserved in their tombs. The writings of ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Hebrews all mention medicinal and aromatic scents. Many of the essences used thousands of years ago are still available today.
Kathryn Goetzke, the entrepreneur and innovator behind Mood-lites (The Mood Factory), a product aimed at educating consumers on the sense of sight and how colors—and soon, how scents—impact mood. The Chief Mood Officer shares with us the important role scent plays in our mood for overall well-being.
What is The Mood Factory?
We make products based on how sensory experiences impact moods, with an overarching mission: To Improve Moods. Our first product line, Mood-lites, is based on how colors affect your mood and is sold in Lowes Home Improvement nationwide in the U.S. We have eight moods, including serenity, tranquility, creativity, sassy, happiness, energy, passion, and renewal.
Research suggests the more senses you engage to create the desired mood state, the more present you are and the more positive your experience in life. It’s both an art and a science. Now The Mood Factory is moving onto the next sensory experience, which is teaching people about scents and mood and how scents impact your mood through engaging the sense of smell. We’re launching a new product line of essential oil blends in our eight moods, and infusing them into 100% USDA organic certified scent sticks, body butters, bath crystals, deodorants, massage oils, and candles.
Can you tell me how you became interested in “moods”?
I’ve always been fascinated with moods and used to look outside myself to change my moods through various addictions and negative behaviors. Through a Psychology undergraduate and International Business degree, I came to understand that our environment and the products we use impact our moods, and started researching what those might be. My first foray was into color, as I noticed articles popping up about how colors impacted your moods and noticed as I added them through what I wore or how I decorated, it impacted me so the more I researched, the more I learned and wanted to share with others.
I’ve also experienced major depressive disorder, so at times found it harder than most to be engaged and present due to the chemical imbalances in my brain. While at times I have had to use antidepressants to manage my depression, my goal was to learn how to be present and engaged through whatever life was bringing me. So I worked extra hard to find out what we can do to impact and influence our moods.
My father was a successful retail banker, and so I was brought up around new products and we frequented Bentonville, Arkansas and I was lucky enough to learn from the best in the retail business, Sam Walton. I later lost my father to suicide, so committed myself to create a shift in the mass market on how we educate and enlighten consumers on overall well-being. I wanted to create a company and product line that didn’t just add revenues, but actually changed peoples lives.
Can you explain how scents affect mood?
The olfactory system is comprised of neurons called olfactory sensors, which recognize odor molecules and then send signals to the olfactory bulb, located above the eyes. Signals from different sensors are targeted to different spots that form a sensory map. From there the signals reach the olfactory area of the cortex, the area of conscious thought.
In addition, the information travels to the limbic system, which is the primitive part of the brain that include areas that control emotions, memory and behavior. Memories of smells are stored in the hippocampus, and through relational memory certain smells trigger certain memories. Scent is the only one of our five senses that actually has a direct path from the nose to the limbic system, without going through a rational processing, so it has an incredible influence on our feelings. Researchers continue to use brain-mapping to determine how the olfactory system works.
Because olfactory information goes to both the primitive and complex parts of the brain it affects our actions in more ways than we think. The connections between odors and emotions have an obvious survival value for our species. The smell of good food is appealing, while the smell of rotten food is not. We recognize either the “yecchh” or the attraction of smells, without cognitive awareness of the actual source of the aroma. Aromachologists use these emotional ties, as well as scientific studies to substantiate hypothetical effects of scents, when formulating aromas to foster moods.
Can you give me an example of how we can use scent to better our mood?
If you want a pick-up before or during a meeting, you can take a whiff of peppermint or orange. If you are feeling stressed or anxious and are looking for more tranquility, you can take a long inhale through the nose of lavender or chamomile. We have eight moods we are targeting, and they are going to be available as scent sticks, so you can dab them on or wear them as you go as well. For instance, our happiness blend has lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, and lime. Very uplifting and energizing, and research suggests [these scents] promote feelings of happiness.
The connection between scent and mood in endemic to our species, but we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the intricacies behind this relationship, and also how we can use this interrelationship to improve our quality of life.
I am most excited about your new oPhone application, as with 1.75 billion smart phone users, getting access to scent via the phone is an easy and efficient way for consumers to access smell on the go. Additionally, they can pair it with a photo to have an even more intense experience all from the ease of their device. They can become smarter, more engaged consumers, which ultimately leads to a much happier planet.