As I enter the room, I immediately notice how pristine Molly Ray’s studio is; there are pressed white lab coats hanging by the door and alphabetized vials of aromatic elixirs lined neatly into rows.
“The space seemed meant for me. I don’t know if there’s another studio with a sink, dishwasher, and room for a fridge.” Upon moving in last November, Ray acknowledges how flawless the course of moving in became. The timing was ideal, the space was perfect, the price was good, and it “just felt right.” Knowing the history of the third floor, I start to recognize this studio was once a kitchen for a corporate office. However, Molly loves its intact character. “It has these delicious imperfections”, she says, as she gestures delightedly toward the flooring and exposed brick.
Not only does she have everything she needs within her studio, but she maintains kinship among fellow artists along the floor. Molly describes a sense of safety and camaraderie despite such differing disciplines of art. “Nobody bugs you, but you feel comfortable enough to say; ‘Hey, I’m expecting a package. Do you mind looking out for it?’”
Ray has always been into fragrance; she even grew up traveling to Europe with her mother and appreciating the culture around perfumery. For Europeans, she says, “It’s not a question of ‘Do you wear perfume?’ it’s ‘What do you wear?’ and ‘Which is your favorite?'” Everyone has a connection to fragrance. For example, vanilla, cedar, and so forth can all be connected to scent memory. Upon smelling such scents, one has the ability to unlock synapses into a really powerful experience.
“Perfumery is the perfect mix of art and science.”
In addition to bringing personalization and detail into her craft, Ray also focuses on the environmental sustainability of the industry. However, she warns consumers to beware of “greenwashing”, i.e., when a company over-emphasizes their environmental efforts as a marketing tactic. “I try not to lead with that, I want you to love my stuff FIRST and then I can say, oh by the way…” She believes it’s not only important to have a sexy brand, but have a tight sustainability commitment to boot.
Her studio has also allowed a space for mentoring and educational workshops. With the help of an apprentice and an intern, Molly approaches her work with a holistic team. Despite only being in the fragrance industry about three and a half years, she prides herself in her craft and has limitless possibilities before her.
“I really try to make art in what I’m doing. I want someone to see themselves in a fragrance.”
With her excess materials, Ray donates to local women’s shelter, Mary’s Place. She recognizes how fragrance can restore a sense of dignity and is a luxury item that is otherwise forgotten among donations.
If you’re looking for an intimate, customized fragrance experience, Molly welcomes visitors and students alike. I recommend you keep an eye on this artist as I expect she’ll continue to push the boundaries of where fragrance can take you. I’ll give you a hint: there might be wine!