How did you become a professional perfumer?
I’m originally trained as a chemist, earning a degree in Food Science with a minor in Business Management from The Pennsylvania State University. My love for adventure and interest in continuing my studies (specifically the fermentation process) led me to Germany after school, where I apprenticed with a sixth-generation wine maker. My studies of wine during my time on the vineyard piqued my interest in aromatic composition.
My professional career began in a Brooklyn flavor house. As I created flavors, my fascination with the subtle nuances of flavor composition continued to evolve. But my true passion was always fragrance. After accepting a position at International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), one of the premier global fragrance houses based in Manhattan, I spent years learning classic perfumery skills alongside a master perfumer. I developed my signature aesthetic as I continued my lifelong study of fragrance ingredients, their subtleties, and the fascinating interplay between them. I was honored when my work on the The Healing Garden Waters Sheer Passion fragrance for Coty Beauty US, won the esteemed Fifi Award in 2003. Again, in 2005, my work with Creative Concepts was acknowledged when my Agraria Balsam candle won a Perfumers Choice Award. Along the way I fortified my artistic studies at the Art Student League from 1997-2000 as well as the Alliance Française from 1998-2001.
Do you have an approach when creating fine fragrances?
I like to define my perfume style through my philosophy of focusing on composition or as I like to call it, “old world style”, which leads me to create fragrance innovations using scents in new ways, focusing on precise formulations and the experience of the customer.
How do you know which ingredients to add?
Many years of experience, experiments, and failures! Understanding why things don’t work is just as important as understanding why they do work.
How do you balance fragrance development for your own brands as well as others?
Great question. One of my true passions is connecting with brands, capturing the unique essence of their message and turning that into a timeless fragrance. The key phrase being unique essence. It’s far easier for many companies and fragrance creators to simply duplicate and ‘twist’ an existing fragrance. But for me, finding a way to promote the unique essence of a brand is a pleasure and professional goal.
There is an infinite amount of fragrances that can be created from the vast array of fragrance ingredients, which means there is potential for infinite amounts of uniqueness when creating fragrances.
Do you have a specialty?
My original training was in fine fragrance. The subtleties involved in creating classic fine fragrances continues to spark my curiosity and lead me to do ‘one more experiment’. Since then I’ve gained a lot of experience with creating candle fragrances and personal care as well. I have also spent periods of time focusing on natural fragrance development. To create really good fragrances requires respect for the various applications. Many brands try to go for a ‘one size fits all’ approach, but I believe in maximizing the experience with each individual scent, meaning that the scent should match the application (candles vs. body oil vs. fine fragrances). The foundation of my approach, though, really takes into consideration the personal experience of the end user. I would say that is my specialty—finding ways to best enhance the scent experience while taking into consideration the application.
What’s your favorite fragrance?
Hmmm, this changes over time. For fine fragrances I like Feminite du Bois by Shiseido. It’s a unique combination of herbs and woods with a timeless chic profile. I might be biased, but I also really like Sebastian Signs No. 17—chocolate and sandalwood, what could be better? And my husband really loves Maitri from my new line Provision, we’re both big fans of a good quality vetiver because it wears so nicely on the skin. Maitri has become his new daily go-to (and not-surprisingly one of my favorites now too!).
Why do some ingredients smell better on me than others?
I honestly have no idea! It really goes back to the ancient wisdom ‘know thyself’. Many people have trouble wearing delicate florals or even citrus scents which can quickly change over time. Vanilla seems to wear well on everyone, making it a must-have for mass market and fine fragrances across the board.