Kate Growney, Hawai’i native and former beauty editor for Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Lucky, created Saffron James Parfums in 2007 to capture the essence of Hawai’i through scents and storytelling using local flowers. In addition to the five scents in the line, she recently added a new scent, Na’u, a blend of Hawaiian Gardenia and coconut.
Saffron James Parfums can be found in Waikiki at Special Me and First Break Waikiki.
What inspires you to create your eau de parfums, huile de parfums and body oils?
The unique beauty and culture of Hawai’i inspired me to create high-quality products that evoke the casual elegance that we all enjoy and celebrate every day.
Do you have one scent out of the collection that you favor or is special to you?
I’ve always fallen in love quickly and every time I create a new scent it becomes my favorite. I wear it constantly until I create the next one. In that way, I’m very monogamous (or maybe obsessive).
What is the new scent? What inspired you?
A girlfriend told me about a purported Hawaiian legend of a love affair between a coconut tree and a gardenia—the result was the rare Hawaiian Gardenia called Na’u. I could never find the Hawaiian legend, but I did find the rare plant, which I planted outside my front door. It’s one of my prize possessions. When it first bloomed, I plucked the delicate white flower and cautiously sniffed. The flower had the decadent scent of gardenia with creamy warm base notes of coconut. I swooned.
Na’u means “mine” in Hawaiian which is only fitting, because of course, it’s my new favorite scent.
Do you have any special memories of Waikiki?
Recently, I went with a friend on a surf trip to Nicaragua. While it was beautiful, the multiple beach breaks were big, fast and pitchy. After a frustrating few days I asked if there were any breaks that were longer, that were better for longboarding. Our guide sheepishly smiled and said there was one break up the coast off of Mag Rock that was really popular. I asked what it was called and he said, “Waikiki.” It instantly reminded me of how lucky I am.
What new projects and collaborations are you working on?
One of my favorite things is collaborating with other creative people. We have so much amazing talent in Hawai’i, I feel very lucky. I can’t tell you exactly what we are working on, but we brought back some beautiful treasures from Tahiti and at Christmas, we will have a unique limited-edition collection of jewelry with one of Hawai’i’s favorite jewelry designers.