It was a Sunday afternoon, with champagne among strangers, gleaming sun, and a charming heart who brought us all together. Susan Verekar of Deco Scent Lab has a special art that I got to experience and now get to share with you.
This new friend moved here from Portland, Oregon last year and he has a heart, smile, and business that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love when you meet a stranger who feels like a friend right away. It’s magic, if you ask me.
The story behind her business is pretty special so let me set the scene for you! Susan studied music performance in college, playing the flute. She then had a business career for 12 years doing litigation counseling for large firms. Tired of the daily grind, she began seeking a creative outlet. Her search went well, because she found TWO.
First, wanting to do something with her hands and fashion, she began crafting elegant handbags. It turned into a business and you can still buy them today! I love her outlook on this craft because she said, “Many mentors tell me the next step is wholesale, but I don’t want to mass produce. That ruins what I want the brand to be. When you get to the point where you have to make a bag to fill so many orders, you lose the artfulness and magic of what makes it special. I will just make a few bags a month, and focus on perfume the rest of time.” It’s so refreshing to have an outlet where you don’t feel the pressure of further success, but success can look like what it is right now. So much admiration for you, friend!
Susan’s second business of hosting perfume workshops began with … A TRIP TO PARIS! She took an adventurous trip abroad, by herself. (I wish we weren’t all jealous right now, but hello, could we reverse time and join her???) My brave friend shared, “I adopted this philosophy in college, figure out whatever it is that scares you and then do that. That is how you grow, experience new things, and then you find amazing things that you love. That’s how I discovered perfume. I went to Paris, walked around, and found a workshop to join!”
In a Parisian apartment on a street that overlooked the Eiffel Tower, she learned the art of perfume. The smells, the memories they bring, the creativity of crafting a scent, and the art of telling the story – she had an experience that opened a door to a whole new passion and business. “I loved it so much, having a finished product that no one else has – its unique to me, my signature scent,” she remembered. “I had this big studio space in Portland and thought this would be the perfect complement to handbags to have people in the studio for fragrance workshops!”
So, this is her special business that she has now brought to Knoxville. It’s called Deco Scent Lab, an ode to her love affair with Art Deco style and architecture. You can join her for a group workshop at the Hive in February or in the future around Knoxville and Maryville. You can also book private workshops with her for all kinds of occasions, such as bridal parties, birthdays, girls’ nights, and eeeeeven work parties (throwing that out there in case my boss reads this!).
One of her favorite groups she hosted was for a girl who had her mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother in town. She told me, “Watching the 3 generations bond over something and getting to see them all walk away with something they loved was really special.” Susan has actually never had someone not make something they didn’t like, although it can be intimidating for people at first. Trust me, it was for me. There are over 100 premium perfume oils to smell – coconut, plumeria, sandalwood, patchouli, grapefruit, rose, and the list goes on. You get tester bottles and you have a guide with different base, middle, and top note suggestions. Once you start smelling, your unique preferences, memories, and creativity takes over, and it is a one-of-a-kind experience!
These sweet Knoxville girls and I got together per Susan’s organizing: Whitney Jade (@whitneyjadephotography), Brandi Kuch (@smittenwiththree_blog), Anna Moss (@rosemossfleurs), and Jan Allen (@mommajanellen). We were beaming and although champagne tends to have that effect on me, it was the fun task at hand making us giddy. Honestly, it felt like we were getting together (strangers might I add) and getting to PLAY with the same spirit and merriment as little girls coloring or playing dress-up.
If I haven’t convinced you already to look up Deco Scent Lab, I wanted to end by sharing with you an insider’s perspective on perfume that I found fascinating. Susan shared, “Commercial perfume is made to appeal to the masses, so when you are trying to reach as broad an audience as possible, you lose some of the intricacies and complexities of really interesting perfumes. The old school way is to start with a concept, for example a fashion house would employ a perfumer. They would say create a perfume that smells like a silk fuschia scarf around the neck of a brunette sipping coffee on a street in Paris. They would make a scent that smells exactly like that. It’s really artful – you are telling a story in a scent.”
You can do this artful storytelling in her workshop and guess what – you get to tell the story of YOU! With your distinct palette, memories, and creativity, your crafted perfume reflects how you are one-of-a-kind. How beautiful is that? I’ve been learning lately how easy it is to neglect celebrating your own spread of traits and abilities, how second-nature it is to admire others before ourselves, but oh man YOU AND I are so worthy of celebration. Whether you can book a perfume workshop with Deco Scent Lab or not, I hope you adopt the spirit of Susan’s business – to celebrate and experience your special uniqueness.
Follow Susan on Instagram, @decoscentlab, and check out her website: https://www.decoscentlab.com/. Thanks for listening, friends, and I hope you get to sit down soon with Deco Scent Lab and make something that smells as lovely and marvelous as you are!
Sign up for Susan’s next workshop here: http://www.thehiveknox.com/calendar/2/6/perfume-class
A big THANK YOU to WHITNEY JADE PHOTOGRAPHY for all these lovely images. Follow her at @whitneyjadephotography.