Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Artist Spotlight: For Strange Women

    The first hints of autumn are just peaking out from summer's shadow.  The scents of flowers and damp earth and crunches of dry leaves echo on my daily stroll.  It felt only natural to look to the work of Perfumers for my next artist spotlight.  I've chosen several talented and creative women from this field to help us ring in the season of cinnamon and spice, and my first is Jill from For Strange Women.    It was her lovely and evocative photos that first caught my attention.  When I read the name of the shop that accompanied them, I had to take a closer look.  

B:  Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me. You mention in your bio that your background in the arts lead you to create your perfumes, but alchemy is something we tend to view as being part of the sciences.  Is creating perfume an overlapping of two worlds?

FSW: Alchemy isn't a science, it is what existed before science. It is experimenting with materials in a more intuitive, spiritual way, and the outcomes are a mystery. There is no hypothesis, no controlled study, no theory, no laws. It is too anarchic to be a science. Everything I know about scent alchemy is in my head, and none of it is very scientific besides when I want to recreate a batch of perfume I have to create an extremely detailed recipe to follow :)

B:  You mention in your Etsy bio that everything you use is 100% natural, so I love that you call your work anarchic since  nature can be a bit anarchistic too at times, but also involves some structure and organized processes.  There must be so much involved in running a business like this, where do you find your inspiration and how then do you bring it to fruition?

FSW:  I do everything from the web design and photography to the packaging design to the scent construction and writing for my perfumes. It is not easy to switch modes, as it is easiest to stay in one creative mode all the time. For instance, I can go a month focused on design only, and then when its time to create a new perfume, it can take weeks to find the inspiration, but once I do, I am in the flow of perfume creating and you can't stop me! But then it is time to take photos of the new perfumes or write about them and I have to stop the flow, turn around, and try to gain momentum in those other creative directions. It isn't easy but I know better than to feel discouraged when it takes me a little time to switch gears every time. My inspiration comes from the universe.
B:  Our sense of smell can be very strong link to memories and the emotions tied to them. Do you ever try to create or have requests to create a scent that recaptures a memory?

FSW:  Yes, this is what I specialize in! My perfumes are all based on my own life and the associations I have with the scentscapes I have experienced. When I have custom perfume appointments, nearly everyone gravitates to something that triggers a good memory of a specific time and place for them

B:  That must be one of the most interesting creative tasks I've ever heard!  What has been the most surprising or unexpected thing you've experienced during this endeavor?

FSW:  I didn't expect to make so many connections with awesome like-minded people. But as it turns out, there plenty of other strange women that are just as obsessed with this stuff as I am! This whole thing began as an expression of my rebellion against a mainstream culture, and it just brought me so much closer to *my kind of people*.

B:  Of all the things one doesn't expect to happen, I think that is the most wonderful.  Getting to know people, to connect with them and be a part of making something meaningful just for them, it takes it beyond being a business.  Your shop has been open on Etsy over six years, how has your process or goal for your business changed over time, and what do think the future holds for you and ForStrangeWomen?

FSW:  Creating new products can be very expensive, and in the beginning I used to be on a budget when I was developing a new line, but I still poured all of my creative energy and imagination into it. Now I have a much larger customer base and I have more freedom and resources available to me. I have the confidence to go all out with every detail of the perfumes. I am releasing my newest perfume line in October. I worked all summer on these and am very excited for them to be done!

Check out Jill's new perfume line at ForStrangeWomen.etsy.com

And follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/forstrangewomen

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