LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Patti Upton, who founded the multimillion-dollar home fragrance company Aromatique thanks to a popular homemade mix of pine cones, oils, and spices she concocted to help a friend’s shop ‘‘smell like Christmas,’’ has died at her Arkansas home. She was 79.
The married mother and grandmother died Tuesday after a brief illness at her home in Heber Springs, about 50 miles north of Little Rock, according to the local funeral home handling her services.
Her company had humble beginnings: leaves, berries, spices, and a broomstick.
It started after Ms. Upton agreed in 1982 to help make a friend’s local shop smell festive. She mixed together leaves, acorns, pine cones, berries, and gum balls, combined with oils and spices. Customers soon began asking to buy the scent wafting through her friend’s store in Heber Springs, so she started mixing bigger batches — in garbage bags using a broomstick.
‘‘Our friends thought absolutely I had lost my mind,’’ Ms. Upton told the Associated Press in 2000, as the company’s sales were expected to top $110 million. ‘‘They said tell them you’re making clothes. Don’t tell them you’re making the smell of Christmas.’’
The work blossomed into an international business manufacturing fragrances, candles, and other decorative products. According to the company, ‘‘The Smell of Christmas’’ remains Aromatique’s flagship fragrance.