As the world's focus shifts from big-brand-everything to those who put their own world into their craft, small perfumeries such as MCMC land on our radar. Anne Serrano-McClain is a self-proclaimed perfume obsessed lady who made her dream of being a perfumer a reality. We stopped by her studio to hear about the intricate world of fragrances, her personal road to success and how MCMC is giving back to the community.
Tell us about yourself
I'm 31 years old and a new mom! That's the craziest/most exciting thing going on in my life right now, besides being an independent business owner.
How did MCMC Fragrances come about?
I founded MCMC Fragrances three years ago after graduating from the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in southern France. I was self-taught before entering a formal training program, and basically just obsessed with perfume. I decided to begin my own company because I felt like I had a lot of my own "stories" to tell in perfume. Earlier this year my sister joined the company and it's been an even more fun journey since then.
Who or what inspired you to get into perfumery?
I love naturally-derived ingredients and when I first encountered the many jewel-colored bottles of essential oils and absolutes, it was like a siren song. I was so inspired.
What are you doing that is different, unique?
We create, blend and bottle every perfume in-house. This is extremely rare in fragrance making, and we take a lot of pride knowing that every aspect of our business is done with quality and care.
Where did the name MCMC come from?
The name MCMC comes from my last name, McClain.
Can you tell us a little about the process of making a fragrance?
I start with a very strong inspiration story, which helps me to choose ingredients. Each ingredient represents a part of that story. I take into account the mood, the color it evokes, and what kind of wearer it's for. I start with a backbone of ingredients - the core group that is most essential. From there I write a formula, adding and subtracting accessory notes. My perfumes have between ten and forty ingredients depending on the fragrance, and I've done up to one hundred drafts, or trials, before deciding on a final formula. That final formula is the recipe for the fragrance. I stick to it completely each time, since even the smallest deviation on a single ingredient amount can completely change a composition's scent.
What keeps you motivated?
There are so many fragrances I want to make! The combinations are endless and I suppose that's what makes perfumery an art. Each creation is entirely unique - the same way a drawing or painting is.
We love the story behind The Humanity Projectcan you tell us more?
I wanted to be sure that the MCMC Fragrances brand always had a social arm to it. The Humanity Project is my way of incorporating social good into my business. It's a series of fragrances based on volunteer inspiration trips with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit that organization. In 2009 I volunteered at the Casa de los Angeles, a day care for children of single working mothers. I then worked with designer Lance McGregor and glass artist Alan Iwamura to create an iconic anatomical glass heart bottle that's become the symbol of the collection. In 2012, I went with six friends to the Rainbow Orphanage in rural Cambodia and created two fragrances, Amara and Savann, which were sold exclusively through Anthropologie. This summer I taught a six week perfume apprenticeship to twelve girls, ages 14 and 15, at El Puente, a community organization on the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After a few international volunteer trips, it was great to do something in my own neighborhood. From my experience this summer, I'll be creating a collection of three new fragrances.
Was there a moment in time that you remember feeling as though youd "made it?"
Seeing my photo in French Vogue was pretty surreal. But I think as an independent business owner, you're always striving.
Whats been your biggest achievement?
Being a perfumer was a dream of mine. Just being able to do this for a living is my biggest achievement.
Whats the best advice youve ever received?
Be nice and work hard.
What does success look like to you?
A happy balance between doing what you love for a living, and having a life outside of that work. I love spending time with friends and family, in nature, and traveling. If I can do all of those things while owning my own business, that's success.
Drink of choice?
In the summertime - Shandy's.