An Interview with Holistic Perfume Designer… Kathleen Currie from SMOKE Perfume.

If you have been following my blog for over a year, you will know that last summer I started interviewing Perfume Designer/Makers from the United States and Canada.  I personally LOVE perfume, I love my sense of smell and I am intrigued by perfume designers!  Over the past year I have also spent mass amounts of money on rare essential oils with my business partner Sheena Nordman to start making amazing smelling concoctions that once in bottles, are called perfumes.  My interest in perfume has been around since I was a teenager, so it has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to shine light on the Natural Perfume Industry now that that is the only kind of perfume I will wear.

I found Kathleen Currie from SMOKE Perfume on Instagram when I was looking for inspiration in my Solar Infused Beauty business.  Upon finding SMOKE Perfume, I was in love…the packaging…direct connection to my heart…wooden hand made perfume bottles…flowers…products going out in the mail…perfume made around the cycles of the moon…this was magic for sure.  I’ve spent the past 6 months following SMOKE Perfume on Instagram, and being continuously inspired and amazed.  I caught up with Kathleen over the internet to learn more about her inspiration and practices as a holistic perfume designer.

 

1. Did you used to wear perfume before you created your business?
  I’ve always been attracted to the mystery and femininity of perfume, even as a
child. However, I didn’t start wearing it until 2006 or 2007? I decided it was
time to find my “signature scent,” and really dove into the world of
perfume…trying to discover what I liked. I was in my early twenties, had just
graduated college, moved to a new city, and felt drawn to the old school,
feminine glam of having a “signature scent!” I’ve worn perfume ever since.
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2. I love that you have a New Moon Body Oil and a Full Moon Body Oil, how
does the moon affect your creations?
  I study herbalism, and creating medicine in line with the cycles of the moon is
classic to the herbal tradition. Personally, I’ve been working with the cycle of
the moon for years, and find that it’s a powerful and comforting touchstone to
come back to every two weeks. I like working with the moon for the oil
infusions, it adds to the formula for me in a deeper way than if I didn’t. I don’t
know how much it affects my actual creations (other than the moon-based body
oils), but it does influence my creativity, which affects my work, so…

 

 

3. Can you tell us about your inspiration for the Cypress New Moon Body Oil?
  The cypress oil was an extremely personal creation. I was deep into my
herbalism course at the time. I was (and still do) leaning on plant allies in a big
way. I was also in the midst of some deep grieving, conflict, and confusion. On
a particularly rough morning, I found myself driving out of town to a beach
along Lake Pontchartrain. As I walked the beach, deep in my thoughts, I
stumbled across a huge cypress tree that had fallen in a recent storm. I
immediately became inspired to forage the fresh leaves. I decided to infuse
them into an oil, and it happened to be the new moon (magical moment!).
Researching the energetic properties of cypress, I found it is an ally for those in
deep grief and trauma, a cooling plant rooted tall and strong in the water. It was
a comfort to me, and helped shift some of the intense emotional energy I was
working through. All my products begin like this—as a tool I use in my own
healing work that I then offer out.
4. Have you studied perfume making with anyone? 
Yes—Mandy Aftel has been a valuable mentor for me. I’ve studied with her
several times now.
5. Your packaging is unique and intriguing, how did you find your style?
  Thank you! It was partly born out of necessity. I didn’t have the funding to get
packaging custom made when I started, and making something handmade just
appealed more than a mass-produced box. Working with wood made sense
given the raw nature of my work.
6. Could you rattle off a few of your favorite essential oils?
 I love clary sage, vetiver, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, lemon grass,
cedarwood…I could go on and on!
7. Where does the alcohol come from that you use to make perfume?
  I purchase organic perfumer’s alcohol from https://organicalcohol.com/
8. If I were a fly on the wall when you were making a perfume, what would
I observe?
  You would witness a highly dreamy yet focused obsessive;)! It is mainly a
process of editing, when I really get going there’s a lot of note taking, sniffing,
and material sampling. Oh, and I always have a pot of tea close by!
9. Tell us about your inspiration for the Wellspring Scent, what type of person
did you have in mind when you designed it?
  For Wellspring, I wanted to create a scent around ylang ylang. This oil had
become an ally for me, and I was enjoying it so much just on it’s own. I knew I
wanted tit to be a musky floral, but also with deep green notes. The ylang is a
heart oil, and is a good oil to have around when you feel spread too thin. I
wanted this scent to speak to anyone who needs to find their inner
wellspring…a scent to dig into our inner reserves and keep moving forward
authentically.
10. Did you have a particular ritual in mind for the Ritual Perfume?
  I’ve always valued rituals, and this was my homage to that. I had a more
witchy, dark, feminine, coven sort of ritual in mind.
11. What are some of your perfume making rituals?
  I work slowly, taking months if needed. I like to make a pot of tea (usually
green) before sitting down to work. I often (but not always) will base an entire
scent around one ingredient (like the ylang in Wellspring).
12. Where would you like to see yourself as a Perfume Designer in 5 years?
  I  hope  in  5  years  I  am  still  expressing  myself  joyfully  and  creatively!
Thanks so much for the interview Kathleen! I adore Wellspring and the Full Moon Rose oil. I can’t wait to try some of your herbal smokes in the future…
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