What are you most proud of in your fragrance career?
It’s funny, “proud” is a difficult emotion for me to own as a highly self-critical A-type personality—I tend to obsess instead on what can be improved. But if asked to pinpoint one thing I’m really proud of in my fragrance career, it’s been my adherence to sustainable business practices wherever possible, no matter how inconvenient or how many challenges I’ve had to face to stay true to my principles.
For instance, the little plastic stoppers in my perfume sample vials were driving me absolutely crazy. All I could think about was how I was contributing to plastic ending up in the oceans after my customer discarded it. I thought for a long time about better packaging and arrived at an (albeit much more expensive) solution that I’ll be launching in the early fall, which I’m very excited about. I felt the same way about the plastic tube in my pump spray bottles and transitioned to refillable splash bottles as a result, though the bottles are nearly three times as expensive! In the end, it’s always worth it to me to do what I feel is right for the planet.
Do you teach or do any experiential projects? If so, what and where?
I teach both introductory and advanced virtual classes in perfumery. My intro course covers naturals only, my advanced class incorporates aromachemicals. To attend the class, you have to first purchase one of my kits through my website and then schedule a class with me online, which I teach through Zoom.
What are you working on now or in the future?
I’m currently working on the launch of my next fragrance! I can’t disclose the featured ingredient yet or where I sourced it from, but I will soon. It feels so good to finally be able to share this perfume—I’ve been developing it for over a year now and went through hundreds of iterations to capture my scent memories from this stunningly dreamy environment. Stay tuned!
What was the most intriguing aspect of the collaboration with Scent Trunk and the Original Edition fragrance you created for us?
With Carta, my goal is to capture the scent of a certain locale, so it’s obviously vital to my process to be able to visit, and spend time in, the environment I’m trying to communicate through scent. For my collaboration with Scent Trunk, I was assigned Tunisian neroli. Since I’ve never been to Tunisia, I was at a loss at first of how to begin. Before I selected my ingredients, I spent a lot of time researching the ecology of where Tunisian neroli grows. I looked into the other botanicals that one might be able to smell during a visit to the Tunisian coast and then began blending inspired by my imaginings of a place—I had never done that before but it was an interesting learning experience. Now I want to visit Tunisia to see how on or off the mark I was!
What does being an ecologist mean to you? And how does that career fold into what you’re doing now with COSP?
My background in tropical ecology has certainly shaped my approach to perfuming. For one thing, I have extensive experience working in an environmental biology lab so I was no stranger to any of the technical aspects of perfuming that likely trip up a lot of other perfumers at first. So I’m grateful for my scientific literacy and to my advisors who instilled in me safe lab practices.
It also informed my perspective on the ingredients we use as perfumers. In my research, I’ve gained firsthand experience witnessing the devastating environmental impact of large-scale monoculture plantations and that awareness follows through to how I think about the ingredients I work with. I don’t want to work with materials that contribute to deforestation, to the extinction of botanical species, to unfair labor practices, to corruption, to pollution—to any of these things. And yet, the lack of transparency in our industry undermines this intention. Luckily, I’ve partnered with three other perfumers, Molly Brennan, Mauricio Garcia, and Sydney Buffman, who are as passionate and fed up as I am, and together, we’re slowly but surely beginning to move this conversation forward.
As a scientist, perfumer and musician - would you say that your mind is constantly trying to organize notes in some sort of creative fashion?
This is a genius question! Yes, so many notes! Musical notes, scent notes, research notes, and they all do need to be creatively organized, don’t they? And I do crave organization...
How important these days is it to be eco-conscious? Is it hard to do that as a brand owner when you have to consider produce development?
If you’re producing something without considering the long-term impacts of your product then I’m just not even sure what to say. It reminds me of that quote that was popping up everywhere for a little while, “I don't know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.” Caring about other people means caring for the planet too. It’s that simple. Don’t be trashy, people!
Do you view your fragrances like songs?
I do! That said, since it takes me roughly one year to write an album and one year to design a fragrance, my fragrances might have more in common with albums than songs. But yes, there are many commonalities between the two. Writing music and designing fragrance both begin when I’m preoccupied by a core idea that wants expression and I then undertake the lengthy process of teasing out that idea— exploring it, shaping it, and organizing it to as close to perfection as I can get it. This is why I’m a terrible businesswoman! I wish I could command my creativity to produce on demand but it just doesn't, and never has, worked that way. So if I release one fragrance every two years, and one album every three, or whatever the frequency, that’s just how it goes. I’m grateful for the moments when I’m consumed by creative fire, as those moments come. There's nothing like it.
Name: Heather D’Angelo
Brand: Carta Fragrances
Year founded: 2017