Monday, February 28, 2011

For Strange Women, A Natural Apothecary

satin corset
Satin Corset solid body fragrance by For Strange Women
Welcome Friends!

This weekend, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Jill McKeever, creator of the natural apothecary line, For Strange Women and have a lovely chat about her creative process. This collection of 100% natural artisan fragrances and unique concoctions of plant extracts are coveted for many reasons.  It's makes perfect "scents" when you see a glimpse into this fascinating world of tradition infused with modern ideas. Jill clearly does her work from a very authentic place, where all aspects of her life are filled with inspiration that is unique to her as a designer. It was a pleasure speaking with her about her life and work. 
Jill McKeever
Me (Brehan Todd)-Hello Jill, it's so nice to meet you. Tell me about your background?

Jill-I am an electronic artist and analogue "craftress" in Kansas City, MO. As an artist my first language was dance, then music, and now perfumery, and although they seem as if they would be very different, these disciplines are truly interconnected. Balance, harmony, acute sensory perception, and creative alchemy will always draw me into their magic. 

I have a "professional" background in video, graphic design, screen-printing, and photography. I refuse to work for "the man" anymore though.

jills studio 2

In order to learn the science behind the magic,  did you take chemistry or other classes to educate yourself, or were you born and alchemist?  

  No, I am a self-teacher. I experiment a lot and I go with my instincts, always. 
I began making my own concoctions about 10 years ago because I am sensitive to the harsh chemicals used in commercial cosmetics, fragrances, and soaps, and could not find truly natural products anywhere. I fell in love with herbalism, aromatherapy, and eventually the much broader realm of natural perfumery. Although I make everything from soap to lipstick for myself, I decided to focus my offerings here to the things that are most pleasing to the senses. I am a very tactile-oriented person and love exploring texture. Texture is something that can be appreciated by all of the senses, and I believe there is a comfort to be found in natural ingredients that nothing else compares to. 

Who, if anyone, is your muse? 

The moon and the kitty cats I encounter on my walks around the neighborhood.

How do you know when a scent is complete?

I usually already have the exact scent I am wanting to make in my mind before I begin making it. For this reason, sometimes it takes a really long time to create a perfume. Some have taken as long as a year to get right. 

Absinthe seems to be really popular these days in the form of novelty items. We love your absinthe lips  at Flutter. Could you describe the taste for those of us who have never tried absinthe?  

absinthe lips

"Absinthe is a very bright, sharp taste, similar to black licorice but not as harsh or dark. It is often prepared with sugar so when it is sweetened it tastes like a really delicious candy, and almost minty." 

Where do you find inspiration and ideas for new products?

I just make anything that I wish existed (but to my knowledge does not.) I think a lot of people have great original ideas all the time, and the inspiration is not as difficult to harness as the motivation to do it.

Do you have a favorite product currently in your line? Which one and why?

My favorite product is always the new one that is next on the list to make. I have tons of ideas lined up and not enough time to make all of them, and when I am working on something new I can hardly stand it because there has been so much thought and anticipation to get to the point where I am developing it!

Your website is really awesome and fun to travel around, Did you design it yourself and what was the inspiration?  To me it feels very much like I'm entering a sort of virtual boutique, and sort of like i'm being invited into your home.


Yes, I designed it. I have made other websites in the same way, where each page is a "room" in my virtual space. I am a cancer and inviting people to my home is very satisfying to me, as well as working from home. Most of the furnishings are actual photos I took of things around my house and I just arranged them on a lovely vintage wallpaper background. My home does not have lovely vintage wallpaper, though. 

What films, music and fine art do you find inspiring these days? 
I have been listening to Broken Bells a lot lately... I love music that has texture and organic sounds layered throughout a well developed soundscape. I used to do a lot of audio design and music production so I really have an appreciation for well produced albums, which there are not much of anymore! Everything is done so fast and cheap, and so much has been lost in the digital landscape.
I love documentaries, and am going to True/False fest with my boyfriend next week-ish. We are also working on a documentary that will be out next year. My favorite painters of the moment are Colette Calascione and Swanbones. 

Thank you so much to Jill for granting us this interview. Stop in a see, and smell these amazing products at Flutter, or visit our online shop to order. 

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