So Cat, how did you come to perfumery?
I started making perfume oils in 1996 for myself, friends and family. In 2003, I began selling a line of lip balms, soaps and perfume oils that became very popular in local artisan boutiques and artisan shows. I opened Deep Midnight Perfumes online on Etsy in 2010. I have adored perfume since I was about ten years old, thanks to my dear mom, who had a vast collection of scents from the USA, France and England. My mom and her sisters always smelled wonderful!
I understand that you want each of your scents to tell a story, to transport the wearer to another place and time. Can you talk more about that?
I have always loved creating. I take special enjoyment in giving life to the things I imagine. Perfume oils became my way of telling a story in a unique medium. I want my scents to transport the wearer to another time and place—just as they would be by reading a good book or looking at a fine painting—because of the strong interaction between scent and memory we can move along the stream of our memories and our imagination. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I believe a scent is worth ten thousand.
What are some of your favorite stories that inspire you and/or places to transport people to?
I love the worlds of fantasy of course; Halflings, Elves, King Arthur, Faeries and the like all fascinate me and capture my imagination and I love to share that enthusiasm with my customers. I also really enjoy historical people and places and mythology as well, so I love to bring those worlds alive through the magic of scent. One of my favorite new scent lines in my shop is the Realms of the Fae Folk™ Series of scents. All the magical Fae and forest creatures from my imagination and my stories and poems have come to life as scent. I also love creating dark and unusual Gothic scents and Halloween and Winter Holiday scents. They all tell different stories too.
Can you tell us about your process when you create a new scent?
It usually begins with the thought of a person or place. I begin to think of the scent as a character or setting, having a unique personality and story to tell. I often dream about perfumes and scent combinations, and wake up to write them down and try them in the morning. With most scents, I start with a base note I want to work around. Then I add depth, dimension, and complexity working with the base, middle and top notes.
Often the creative process turns into a dialogue between me and the scent. I coax its story out of it, asking it about its environment, the things that are around it, and what story it begs to be told. I find myself adding notes that I never anticipated or considered at the beginning of the process because of this dialogue. It’s all part of the joy, satisfaction, and surprise of creating.
Most perfumes go through several incarnations before they are the way I wish them to be. Then I test them on willing friends and family for dry down, impressions of the scent, longevity, and how it unfolds on different people’s skin.
When a perfume is ready to be listed in my shop, I try to photograph as many of the listings as I can myself or use some excellent local photographers or even far away friends to help with photos. I like to use models or scenes that represent the character of the scent. I feel using a person to represent my scents often gives a more personal touch, especially when I use customers and friends and myself as models. Using models or specific settings is also part of my way of telling the complete story of the scent. I like to include a little story or a portion of a poem I have written to help set the scene for the wearer.
Can you tell us about the space where you create?
I have two places where my creative process takes place. One place is at my home office where I surround my desk and computer with artwork from indie artists around the world, including the original artwork some artists have designed for my listings. Most of the work here is the story-telling and creative photo process for the perfume. The other place where I work is a small, clean, crisp uncluttered space just N.E. of Minneapolis. All the testing and formulation and the majority of order packing takes place here. I’d like to say it was decorated ala Faerie, but it is a very clean room type of environment to keep sanitation requirements for production.
What can you tell us about your ingredients?
All of my perfumes are cruelty free, alcohol free, preservative free, contain no animal products and so are completely vegan. I use only premium quality essential oils and fragrance oils with an organic unscented jojoba carrier oil (a carrier oil must be used in perfumes oils to carry the longevity of the scent and protect your skin). All of the suppliers of my individual ingredients notes also pledge “no animal testing ever.”
Do you have a special affection for Halloween? Is there some special note that distinguishes an autumnal/Halloween scent?
I do love Halloween! Fall is my favorite time of year and Halloween is my favorite holiday. I really enjoy creating and coming up with ideas for the Fall/Halloween scents each year. I know my customers really enjoy them. Fall is just a vibrant, unique time of year with the smells of nature changing and the earth getting ready to go dormant for winter. I think most people love their pumpkin scents. All over the world people love the smell of pumpkin type notes. It’s a cozy, homey comforting smell we crave. But I also think the smell of fall leaves, warm spices, candy type smells, and apple notes are also popular. Those scents are also homey and remind us of our childhoods.
Can you tell us about your new scent for Faerie Magazine?
I’m very excited to have created a second exclusive perfume for Faerie Magazine! This one is called Petals and Pumpkins™ and was created to be a scent to go into my new Autumn Luster Elven Leaf™ Perfume Pendant. The scent combines sweet and spicy florals with a bit of pumpkin and cream and a touch of pale amber. It was so much fun to create. It reminds me of tiny faeries dancing in the fall leaves. It’s a very pretty feminine scent for fall without being too heavy on the pumpkin notes, so it could be worn year round as well.
We’re going to start our new and more glamorous career in perfumery, as we’re more than slightly jealous… Here’s Cat in her studio making olfactory magic; doesn’t that look like fun?
Here’s her Victorian Halloween sampler set:
And a more mermaidly one:
The world smells even more delicious now, doesn’t it? Visit Cat’s shop to see more!