Zingaro Floral Perfumery could well be a time machine. The small boutique is tucked within a historic building on Johnson Street, less than half a mile from the Victoria Harbour Airport. The space is an Instagramer’s daydream, filled with the kind of treasures that evoke a mix of old-world elegance and whimsical fun.
Built in 1890 to house the H. Saunders Grocery and Liquor Store, Palma’s boutique feels as though it’s always occupied the space — despite opening in June of 2021.
The temporal essence of the shop is undoubtedly thanks to its founder’s rich roots among the flowers and the dirt. Born and raised in Ireland, Palma spent her formative years wandering her mother’s and her grandmother’s gardens.
The beauty of nature stayed with her, even as she boarded a boat at just 17 for Europe. Exploring the streets, she happened upon a small florist shop run by the famous floral designer, Mr. Tuner. Under his tutelage, Palma became a floral designer, helping make arrangements for some of the most esteemed businesses and households in the city — including the Royal Family.
“Mr. Turner used to tell us that when you hold a flower, you should always remember you’re employed by nature. As a young girl, I thought he was a bit crazy. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the wisdom of his philosophy,” explained Palma.
While Palma loved (and still does) arranging flowers, she discovered she missed the scent of the flowers when she wasn’t holding them.
“Nothing smelled like what I touched and felt on a daily basis. It didn’t smell real. That’s when I realized everything was synthetic. And so I decided to train in the art of parfum — how parfums were originally made,” said Palma.
Unlike perfumes, with which most of North America is familiar, parfums have the highest concentration of oils. Palma’s are at the peak, featuring a 40% ratio. It’s this ratio that allows Palma to capture memories in a bottle.
“I don’t normally divulge the stories that influenced my collection because parfum is deeply personal and each person will make their own memories around the scent they choose,” said Palma.
But should you catch her on a day of reminiscing, ask her about Villa Irlanda Italian. You might just learn how this playful scent comes from her parental roots, from the town where her dad grew up, where citrus orchards abound and the primal strength of oakmoss remains.
Or don’t and make your own memories. But definitely go, smell, and discover the magic of scent.