FEMALE FOUNDERS INTERVIEW: Elizabeth Gaynes | Founder and CEO of Strangelove

Hello readers! Mrs Minnis2Society here, with our first in a new series of posts focusing on female founders and talent. I love discovering and celebrating what creative women around the world are doing, and now I can share that with you guys!

The lovely Elizabeth Gaynes grew up in Vancouver, beginning her career working with startup businesses to help them raise the funds they needed and get to market. She is now based in New York, where she has founded a high quality ‘indie’ perfume house, with model Helena Christensen on board as Creative Director. Read on to hear the story behind the scents.

For those who may not know, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

I’m somebody who likes adventure, who doesn’t mind taking a chance, who’s not conventional at all. I love to think outside the boundaries; I love authenticity, and I believe in integrity, in all its forms. I started out my career helping emerging companies work with new ideas and helping them to grow and secure financing. That work was a great foundation for me to eventually found my own company, which is based around my love of perfumery and rare ingredients. We’re an indie house, and I think it’s important that people know that. We’re very hands-on—we’re involved in every step of the process, from the creative part to production to distribution. We have a lot of freedom to be creative. There’s a big difference now between ‘niche’ and ‘indie’ perfume houses — ’niche’ isn’t what it used to be.

How does the concept of a scent come to you and lead you to create your fragrances?

We think of what we do as “telling strange love stories through the art of perfumery.” Each of our five scents is essentially a riff on different conceptions of love, all incorporating oud and interpreting it in different ways. When we create a new fragrance, we focus on a few key ingredients and research the history and mythology behind each one; we think about why we love them, and how they make us feel; we let our imaginations run wild. We often go through a hundred-plus samples to get a version that we’re all happy with.

You work closely with Helena Christensen and Christophe Laudamiel. How did your paths cross to form strangelove’s journey?

In both cases, our working relationships formed very organically. Helena and I became close friends over ten years ago through our sons, who were best friends throughout elementary, middle and high school. They actually both attend NYU now, so they’ve been going to school together forever! One night at my apartment, I told Helena about my plans to create a perfume using sustainable oud. Once she smelled the first prototype of deadofnight, she was hooked and wanted to be involved. Christophe and I met several years ago through a friend of mine and Helena’s who’s a gallerist. Christophe has always been an incredibly creative perfumer who’s not afraid to push boundaries. He does scent installations all over the world, and he was one of our friend’s featured artists at her gallery in Chelsea. When I decided to start strangelove, it just felt very natural to call him.

Tell us more about ‘oud’ and what it means to your perfume’s scent?

Oud has been known and loved in the Middle East for centuries and beyond. It’s not just a perfume ingredient in their culture — they also burn oud wood as incense, which I love to do. In learning about oud, I became fascinated by how integral it was to Middle Eastern cultures and how respected it is as an ingredient. Oud is a “strange love” of ours, and of many people all over the world. It also blends well with a whole host of other ingredients.

You have five collections – have you one that is a personal favourite? Any further collections on the horizon?

I always have a favorite — it just changes five times a year! But honestly, I have different favorites depending on my mood, where I’m going, whom I’m meeting, what time of year it is, et cetera.

We’re always looking for new and interesting ways to expand, and we have some exciting new projects in the works, but I can’t say anything further

Aside from your wondrous perfume creations has there been anything you have watched, read, or listened to lately that you have thoroughly enjoyed and recommend?

I’m actually more excited about something I want to see than something I’ve recently seen, aside from Parasite, which everyone loves. It’s not playing yet, but I’m dying to see American Buffalo, the play by David Mamet, when it comes out in New York later this month. It’s an intense drama that centers around a botched burglary. Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne, and Darren Criss are in it. Mamet’s scripts are so smart.

Finally, what is your tip for the day?

Wash your hands—with something that smells nice !

Thank you so much to Elizabeth for speaking with us – We wish her the best of luck with her venture and for the future.

To find out more about Strangelove, visit: https://strangelovenyc.com/
You can also follow on Instagram: @strangeloveny

If you’re a female founder, entrepreneur, or simply doing something inspiring, then drop us a line at: minnis2society_@outlook.com

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