Most of the studios housed in the Dobbin Mews collective are what one might expect of maker spaces—filled with the product and tools of object designers and visual artists. While many of the Greenpoint location’s tenants deal in the manufacture of tangible goods—florists, metalsmiths, ceramicists—Anne and Katie McClain’s expertise lies in the ephemeral and subjective world of fragrance. The sisters’ studio exchanges the pin-boards, kilns, and tool caddies of typical studios for shelves filled with bottles, beakers, and labels, lending it the air of an old apothecary or laboratory. The image is fitting, given the marriage of art, intuition, and science that goes into the creation of a scent. Take a peek at the MCMC Fragrances studio + learn more about the duo’s process below!
Please tell us a little about yourselves and your work.
MCMC Fragrances is a fragrance house based in Brooklyn, NY. We make perfumes, candles, and are debuting our room sprays this month. We are a family owned business, operated by sisters. Anne studied at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in southern France and creates the scents. Katie handles the sales and operations aspect of the business. We collaborate on design. Many of our products are made in house by hand, which is rare for a perfume company, but allows us to control the quality and offer high-quality fragrances with the best ingredients sourced from all over the world, like rose oil from Bulgaria, pink pepper from Kenya, and Japanese yuzu.
What is it like being a maker in America right now?
When we started MCMC Fragrances in 2009 we were part of the burgeoning maker scene, growing out of Brooklyn. Seven years later, it’s been amazing to see how this has spread to all different cities and industries. It really goes to show that the demand for high-quality hand-made goods exist, and it’s been gratifying to have our goods in the lives of so many people.
Tell us about your studio space.
Our studio is on an industrial street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We are part of the Dobbin Mews, which were once horse stables, and have long since been converted to artist and maker studios. We’re lucky to share our work environment with Nicolette Camille, a florist who inspires us with fragrant flowers from the flower market, Odette NY and Fay Andrada, both jewelry makers, Helen Dealtry, an amazing painter, and Tara Donne, a photographer. We often find ourselves collaborating, and we also throw an annual holiday party (save the date for December 17th)!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
The best part of what we do is that every day is different. Some days we are brainstorming ideas for new products or scents, some days we are on photoshoots. There are even some days that we dedicate fully to bottling, setting up an assembly-line, turning up the music, and mixing up the medicine.
Where do you seek inspiration?
A lot of our inspiration comes from travel. Seeing new and beautiful environments, especially natural settings, is something that really resonates with our work. The next trip we want to take is to Iceland.
Why do you love Brooklyn?
Brooklyn is full of creative energy, strong personalities and diversity. I feel like this combination really pushes us to be the best versions of ourselves, and creates unique identities of us all.