What made you begin the art of making perfume? Did you always know this was what you wanted to do?
Hell no, it has been one heck of a windy road to get here. I have always been moved by olfactive territories since childhood, the first scent memory of my father who was, at the time, a horticultural engineer, thus the smell of freshly cut grass, moistened earth and the smell of a golf course lawnmower; the steel from the blades, but mostly gasoline which I still love the smell of today. After working for others in more managerial, non-creative roles, I found that my personal desire to have sole authorship and artistic freedom was what I needed and being a fragrance and beauty outsider with a bit of a science background (after my postbacc for medical school) would actually become my biggest strength. I also ran some of the best branding and creative agencies in North America so I saw brands, products and markets in a totally different way than incumbents and I still do.
You had a very clear sense from the beginning not only about how you wanted the scents to smell but how you wanted them to look and fit into people’s environments. What inspired this vision?
Yes, we did not come at this from a traditional beauty or fragrance perspective at all. That was very important to me. We drew inspiration from art, architecture, and design as well as a unique interpretation of the contemporary equestrian lifestyle. I not only wanted to be known for our fragrances but our packaging and the entire Maison d’Etto experience. Knowing how transitional many of our clients are we wanted everything to be not only beautiful, an object of art in and of itself, but also practical, and portable. I worked with the insanely talented and world-renowned graphic and product designer Lotta Nieminen as well as space and interior designer Olivia Song to help ensure that our products are adding an aesthetic value to each client’s life space and home.
The packaging is extremely considered. I wanted to create something sustainable and beautiful but not just for the sake of sustainability. So for example, we could create sustainable, recyclable but inevitably throw-away packaging or we could create something with wonderful quality with a focus on materials that will last the test of time. Something that you want to hold onto and treasure, like an Hermes box. So our discovery set, after use, provides a beautiful design piece to place in a room or save your Rondel charms, trinkets, crystals or chocolate mushrooms in. Haha.
What inspires you?
Art, Design, Nature and Silence
Where did you grow up and how has that shaped who you are today?
I grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York, in a tiny little town. It shaped me in ways of knowing what I didn’t want — the cold weather in particular. Summers are absolutely breathtaking up there but it only lasts for a few short months. During those months I was able to connect with nature to the fullest, and growing up riding horses forced me to persevere with the elements.
On my free time I like to…
Breathe, be still, be quiet, be in peace and touch the earth with my bare feet.
The Rondel piece that speaks most to me is…
Ooh this is hard as I have quite a few and they’re all so deeply connected to me. I would have to say the diamond horseshoe for now as I still need to engrave my children’s names on the sunburst. When I do that, that will be the one I am most connected with.
The people seated at my Rond table are…
Peggy Gugenheim, Ram Dass, Patti Smith, Hilma af Klint, Zoe Kravitz, Steve Jobs
Anyone super disciplined in their craft and a bit ahead of their time.
One thing I can’t live without…