March is Women’s History Month, a month where we celebrate the vital role of women in American history. The 21 st of March is also National Fragrance Day, a day where we celebrate all things fragrant. Blending these two together, it was kismet to curate a collection of all female perfumers that fearlessly charged into the often-secretive society of perfumery and made their mark. A gloriously fragrant mark that is!
For the 2022 March Collection, Gold Rush, we honor women in perfumery. Always inspiring, each one of these ladies rock the indie perfume world and it is our absolute honor to showcase them.
They’re gold. You’re gold.
Let's meet Sandy Carr of Bluehill Fragrances and enjoy the gold rush.
Perfumer: Sandy Carr
House: Bluehill Fragrances
Fragrance Selected for the March 2022 Box: Ivy League
Q: Did you always want to be a perfumer? If not, what did you want to be growing up and how did the transition to become a perfumer come about?
In Rochester, NY where I grew up, the most exposure I had to scents was in the darkroom where I worked summers at Kodak. The market was all about film at that time and I wanted to be a photographer. The Rochester Institute of Technology has a wonderful photo program and my parents encouraged me to move beyond and try something new. So I went 60 miles down the road to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and got my master’s degree in public communications with a focus on broadcasting and the visual arts. The transition to perfumer came after 30+ years of working in multimedia and then technology as the web was born. I ended that part of my career at Harvard Business School creating online and distance learning for Executive Education participants.
Q: When you did become a perfumer, were you self-taught or formally trained? Please expand on how that evolved, what was great about it, what was not great or things you wish were different.
My mother always said to me “You smell everything.” I did and still do. Wherever I go, whatever I do, from opening a new bag of coffee beans to just today, smelling the California artemisia as we hiked in the Alta Luna Park, my sense of smell is probably the most dominant of all. I decided I wanted to learn more about perfumery and started visiting niche perfume shops in NYC to discover what was out there.
I attended perfume workshops at the Museum of Art and Design in NY and was fortunate to meet the person who ran the perfume school at International Flavors and Fragrances. He invited me in to his space to begin to learn how to smell… so began my education. BUT… a large cosmetics company is not fond of sharing information with outsiders and when it was discovered that I was coming in every 3 weeks or so, my mentor was warned to leave me behind. He had been so kind I immediately sought new venues for my education. I ended up going to Grasse in France to study at the GIP, or Grasse Institute of Perfumery. There I learned everything I needed to know to continue on my own.
Q: What do you think helped you the most to make a career as a woman? What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
My parents, like many I think, always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. I am an only child so it’s especially great that they also encouraged me to do whatever wherever. I moved to Boston after graduate school and left my upstate New York roots behind. Being in a larger city exposed me to many more opportunities to grow and learn. I have never been hesitant to jump in, take risks and try something new – I think that attitude has had the biggest impact on my career.
Q: How have others embraced or judged your profession as a perfumer?
Being a perfumer does not make for good cocktail conversation. When people hear that’s what I do, they don’t really get it and kind of tune out. No one has the vocabulary to continue the conversation.
Q: Perfumers that have their own brands like you do, many times have to wear many hats. Is this the case for you? And if so, what hats do you wear the most? Which ones do you love, hate?
Since Covid I have found that a lot of my time is spent working on social media. It’s not hard for me since I do enjoy writing and take many of my own photographs, but I couldn’t do it all without the help of Ryan Prescott from Controlr, a marketing and PR company. I am especially frustrated with the ever-changing IG algorithms and the need to just post more to get better circulation. Besides that, I really hate the spreadsheet work that I have to do. Of course my most enjoyable time is spent dreaming up and creating new fragrances.
Q: What advice or words of wisdom would you give a young woman who wanted to be a perfumer or start her own perfume company?
Network, network, network. It may be easier to break into the industry now given the number of niche and indie perfumers out there since I started, but I couldn’t have done it without my contacts in NYC.
Q: Ivy League was chosen for this month’s collection. Can you tell us more about this fragrance? The inspiration, the key notes, how it makes you feel when you wear it, why customer’s love it, etc.?
Ivy League is the promise of spring; it is fresh and green. I purposely chose not to include Galbanum in the formula because I find it harsh and overwhelming. I love the Green Mandarin top note which not only uplifts and softens the green notes but adds its green color to the bottle. And the tart Cassis and intoxicating Narcisse base. But my favorite of all is the new Ambrettolide HC which I received after attending a webcast with ACSI, its creator. It smooths out the fragrance and complements the other notes.
Q: What in your life has brought or given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? What would you do again?
Greatest satisfactions and fulfillment: moving to New England, marrying the greatest guy, raising the most amazing young woman, and rescuing the cutest dog. If I could go back in time, I would switch to perfumery many years before I did.
Q: What do you do for fun these days?
Walk my dog in the Blue Hills, the wonderful 7,000 acre reservation that surrounds our home, and look forward to spring when I can replant my dahlia tubers. I LOVE dahlias!
Follow Bluehill Fragrances on Instagram!
Photo credits: Bluehill Fragrances, Fragrantica, Qatar America Institute for Cult, Grasse Institute of Perfumery
Comments will be approved before showing up.