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Aromatique: Sharing the Scents of Arkansas


This year, Aromatique celebrates 40 years of transforming the home fragrance industry, which began with products found naturally in an Arkansas backyard.

Decades ago, Patti Upton, founder and the former chief executive officer helped decorate her shop for Christmas. Upton gathered acorns, pinecones, gumballs and hickory nuts from her Heber Springs backyard. She mixed a few fragrance oils and displayed the botanicals in the gift shop for the holiday.

The “displayed fragrance” caught customers’ attention throughout the season who wanted to purchase the blend. The Smell of Christmas became the product that birthed a new industry: decorative fragrance.

“The entrepreneurial idea that Patti developed was the idea of making fragrance beautiful for display,” shared Steve Lawrence, Aromatique vice president and current CEO.

Aromatique - Patti Upton in 1982

“Potpourri had been around for a long time hidden away in closets and containers, but the notion of creating an artistic arrangement of beautiful botanicals infused with high-end, mood-enhancing fragrances was new. It was a home run.”

Founded in 1982, Aromatique expanded and by the late 1980s had several fragrance products. Inc. magazine listed them as one of the 50 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America. Upton had a high sense of style and could have easily been successful in fashion, home interiors or interior design. But botanicals were her “thing,” and creatively building fragrance developed into a successful career.

Her home was featured on the television show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” and even as she circled with celebrities and stardom, Patti always held a reputation of caring for others and sharing with generosity. Aromatique has a strong people-culture of loyalty and long tenure born out of how, from the beginning, Upton cared for and considered her employees a family.


The company’s first products were dream merchandise for boutiques and gift shops. Just as she did with the first store to hold the decorative fragrance bowl, Upton worked hard to protect the relationship of her shop owners and customers. But significant retailers noticed and asked to carry the line of successful products. One early relationship came from Arkansas retailer Dillard’s, Inc. This solid retail relationship remains strong year-round for products like decorative fragrance bags, fragrance oils, candles, wax melts, hand soap, reed diffusers and room sprays.

“Making fragrance beautiful” was an early goal of Aromatique and set them apart from any other company. While it’s complicated to create variety in a growing product line, the company sources many of its ingredients from Arkansas backyards through local companies across the state. Candles are still hand-poured and made in small batches, and decorative fragrance bags include hand-assembled botanicals in their Heber Springs production facility.

Patti Upton passed away in 2017. But her husband, Dick, still owns the company and is involved in day-to-day operations. In addition, two of their granddaughters serve in leadership in the company on the graphic design and marketing teams. Patti set the bar high and served as a leader for Arkansas Women-Owned Businesses and today, 80% of the employees are female. Within the company, women hold many leadership positions, including chief financial officer and managers over production, inventory, purchasing, shipping and logistics.

March is Women’s History Month

As we celebrate Women’s Month, the Aromatique story is a perfect example of the accomplishments of female entrepreneurs.

We can continue to support women and encourage their creativity and professional growth in 11 ways:


Aromatique produces nearly 300 unique decorative fragrance products available in independent stores and boutiques across the U.S. and large retailers and department stores. But, Panache, Aromatique’s gift shop in Heber Springs, is the only place where most products are under one roof.

Panache, The Aromatique Gift Shop
3421 Highway 25B North
Heber Springs, AR 72543
Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Monday through Saturday

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in South Arkansas with her husband and sweet Boxer, Bailey and one-year-old son! Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now she is using all of those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom!

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