Smoke is an artisan perfume company based in New Orleans. Kathleen Currie is the founder and maker of small-batch perfume oils, sugar and salt scrubs, and body oils. We are in love with the mysterious and enchanting signature fragrance, Smoke. Not only is the fragrance intoxicating, the packaging is simply beautiful. The perfume comes packaged in a beautiful prism shaped vessel made of reclaimed wood, perfect for gift giving.
Below is a brief interview with Kathleen about her passion for creativity and the story behind her company.
"I love the creating in the studio--landing on a new scent, foraging for raw plants, and having hands in the materials."
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
I've always been a creative and self-directed person. I think creating has been something I've always done...everything from baking to jewelry to painting.
How did you get started making perfume oils and apothecary products? Is it something you were always interested in?
I became a massage therapist in 2008, and the increasing interest in essential oils & aromatherapy led me to create Smoke. I have always enjoyed cooking, and I enjoy that making the apothecary products feels so similar. I did not necessarily set out to create an apothecary company, but it has grown very organically.
Where did the name Smoke come from?
I was brainstorming names for weeks. One day my brother and I were bouncing names around, and the word "smoke" came up. It was an instant light bulb moment. I think it really suits the original fragrance.
Where do you find inspiration for your fragrances?
Traveling and time spent in nature inspire me greatly. Beyond that, I usually choose one to 2 oils to base a perfume on. I work with those oils on their own for a while, to get to know their personality, and see how they make me feel. Then I begin creating a scent around that. It's a lot of editing to build.
Are making things a part of your past?
Yes, always. I nearly went to culinary school, and used to be a collage artist and encaustic painter. I dabbled in ceramics, canning, jewelry making, drawing, writing--kind of a Jill of all trades!
How do you balance work and life?
This has been a big learning curve for me. When I launched Smoke, I had 3 jobs, so learning how to scale back (I now have two jobs, ha!) to a more sustainable work schedule has been a big goal. I try to limit hours worked when I can, and try to take 1-2 days off a week. I also no longer answer emails on the weekends, and try to only work in the studio on weekdays. I recently hired an assistant, and that has been tremendous. The main thing for me is to have boundaries around my work/life, and to be sure I am taking care of myself first--exercise, healthy food, and rest go so far!
If you weren't doing this, then what?
I'd probably get more committed to my work as a bodyworker. I still maintain a private massage practice, and would just be deeper involved in that if not for Smoke.
What do you like most about where you live?
I love the weather and natural beauty of New Orleans. I love the people who live here, and the community I have been able to foster.
What is the hardest part about your job?
Being a one-woman show can be difficult. It means I end up doing a lot of tasks I don't feel very good at--it requires confidence!
What makes you happiest about what you do?
I love the creating in the studio--landing on a new scent, foraging for raw plants, and having hands in the materials. I also love interacting with fans, hearing from people who love the products or feel they've enhanced their quality of life is extremely rewarding.
Photo of Kathleen Currie by Scott Simon