The power of scent is undeniable. It sparks memories, desires, emotions. Sherry Meredith and Gretchen Zaman know how influential the human olfactory system is, and that’s why they launched DIY Scent Studio in 2016.
The modern perfumery, located in Fairfax, allows guests to mix together scents to make personalized perfumes. Meredith has a background in botanical medicine, and Zaman trained to be a perfumer in Grasse, France and Coriano, Italy. Together, they lead guests through the ins and outs of creating perfumes, using a mix of ancient techniques and modern methods.
We caught up with Meredith about DIY Scent Studio. Highlights from our conversation are below.
What inspired you to create DIY Scent Studio?
I was taking natural perfumery classes, and I loved smelling and working with all the materials. For example, essential oils, absolutes, concretes and tinctures of animal smells. Some of these materials are becoming rare, and more expensive with climate change, and it’s a privilege to work with these natural materials. We thought that others might love it, too!
What’s the most important part of creating a scent?
The concept, the inspiration, the emotion you are looking to evoke. We’ve had clients create perfumes that remind them of their childhood. For example, a client made a perfume with the smells of her youth in California—smells of eucalyptus and citrus. Smell is one of our primal base senses and leaves an indelible mark on our brains forever. Inspiration can be a place you visited, like Italy, with smells of coffee, bergamot, rose, hay and chocolate.
What is a typical workshop like at DIY Scent Studio?
A typical workshop is a process of self-discovery. Some participants have never smelled frankincense, oud or vetiver. By experimenting and exploring the smells you may be attracted to … some smells will surprise you. We have perfumery organs with all the smells organized by scent family. There are 80-plus smells on the workstation organs, and an additional 150 smells.
During the workshops, we give an overview of perfume history facts and explain the scent families and the nuances of smells within those groups, such as floral, spicy, herbaceous, animal, fruits, woods, greens etc.
Workshops are group based, but guests can also make one-on-one reservations to create their own scents. Tell us a little bit about what those sessions are like.
Perfumery is art and science, like composing music or making a painting. Participants explore the smells, then research smells they know they like and use smelling strips to combine smells to create the theme of the perfume or main accord. The materials are written into a formula and blended, bottled and labeled. Your formula is unique to you. You won’t leave the shop without something you like—you are only limited by your imagination.
DIY Scent Studio’s workshops are offered every week. The perfumery also offers special workshops from time to time, which are announced on Eventbrite (an Egyptian perfumery-themed event is currently in the works). For one-on-one sessions, oil-based and alcohol-based perfumes range in prices from $25 to $100, and guests also have the option to make two perfumes (one large and one small) for $50.
The perfumery also takes walk-ins. To reserve a one-on-one session, book a party or to find out more information about workshops, visit diyscentstudio.com. // DIY Scent Studio: 4007 University Drive, Fairfax
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