After a debilitating divorce in 2016, Australian documentary filmmaker and curator Ania Freer decided to pack her bags and book a trip to connect to her father’s birthplace – Jamaica.
With no solid plan in place, Ania quickly found a guest house in the hills of Westmoreland that agreed to allow her to stay in exchange for photography services.
As she began exploring the island, she became intrigued by the people, culture, and the tales of ‘duppy’ (ghosts), ‘river maids’ (mermaids) and other mystical figures.
“For the first year I was riding an adrenaline wave,” she says, “Everything was exciting. I threw myself into a whole different world.”
During that year Ania launched Goat Curry – a documentary film project highlighting the deep rural culture of Jamaica, its folklore and somewhat forgotten people. Then she received international funding for an independent project that showcased local artisans. Both projects were impactful and well received, allowing Ania to become blissfully consumed by purpose-driven work.
Then, in 2019, her energy shifted. The trauma of the divorce, she says, began to surface as anxiety. “I think I had so many things going on, I hadn’t fully processed what had happened with the divorce.”
Eager to release that anxiety, Ania researched and concocted a blend of essential oils to help her feel more grounded. She eventually found a healing blend of geranium, patchouli and frankincense, and by late 2019, the anxiety finally lifted. She credits that essential oil blend, a trusted women’s circle, yoga, exercise and other lifestyle changes for bringing her out of that dark place.
But, something else had risen from those ashes… She noticed that strangers would stop her on the street to ask what scent she was wearing. The idea of selling the essential oil blend that had helped in her healing, began to take root… but with some resistance. “Selling oils didn’t fit into who I saw myself as, or what I saw myself doing.”
However, It didn’t take long for Ania to realize that NOT sharing the healing blend would be a disservice for those that needed it. So, the already celebrated filmmaker and artist, added body oil-making entrepreneur to her portfolio. Freer Essence was born.
Freer Essence is a body oil brand, specializing in 100% natural blends. Fittingly, its first blend consists of geranium, patchouli and frankincense essential oils that are mixed in a base of organic sweet almond, jojoba and coconut oils.
The brand was launched earlier this year. Even though sales have been affected by the pandemic, bottles have already been sold in Jamaica and shipped throughout the world in countries such as Trinidad and the U.S.
What’s next for this new business? Ania says she is excited about exploring the use of indigenious Jamaican materials such as castor oil, pimento, lemongrass and bitter orange, in her body oils. Her goal is to supply wellness centers, retreats and hotels throughout the Caribbean.
In a world that needs calm, grounding and peace now more than ever, we see pure abundance on the horizon for Ania and Freer Essence.
Visit Freer Essence online
All photos are contributed.