Interview: Astrid Favro-Heald Weinstock of Blooddrop

December 14, 2017

Astrid Favro-Heald Weinstock is the multi-talented creator behind Blooddrop, a boutique online shop specializing in "unique, small batch perfume; custom corsetry; and confections for you and your surroundings influenced by Art Nouveau, the Victorian & Edwardian eras, Gothic and equine themes."

Confections indeed! Astrid crafts scents that are by turns ethereal or earthy; haunting or as comforting as your favorite blanket. She has an amazing skill at evoking the natural world through scent – beyond the merely literal. Her gourmand work will make you very, very sad that you can't eat perfume. And her bath & beauty products tend to sell out fast (so you might want to hit up that "winter bath collection" link in the next paragraph before you read another word).

It's been quite a season at Blooddrop! On the heels of her Winter & Holiday and Late Autumn & Early Winter Simplicities collections, Astrid has just released her Winter Bath Collection, which sounds heavenly. Between September and November, Astrid launched six limited collections – yes, you read right: six!Autumn and Halloween, A Parliament of Owls, Deliciously Halloween, The Nope Collection, Ladies & Gentlemen of Horror, and Hexennacht.

With November came the release of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, a highly anticipated collaborative project featuring perfumes from Blooddrop and Arcana Wildcraft; perfumes, candles, and bath spells from Nui Cobalt Designs; and makeup from Corvus Cosmetics – a dream team of indie favorites!

Check out our interview with Astrid below to learn more about one of our favorite etailers!

Tell me a little bit about how Blooddrop came about. How did you get started making perfumes and corsetry?

Blooddrop was born in the summer of 2002. I had begun to teach myself how to sew and was also dabbling in jewelry making in the late 90’s. Eventually it became a matter that I was making so much stuff that I began to wonder if I could sell what I was making to further fund my hobby. The name Blooddrop came about because I was constantly stabbing myself with my needles while sewing and I would jokingly say to myself, “A drop of blood goes into everything I make!” The corset side of the business began when I fell in love with my first corset made by Brooke at Dragontown Corsets. By the time I was waiting for her to complete my second corset I couldn’t stand it anymore and just had to learn how to make my own because I was going crazy wanting a corset in this fabric and that fabric and in this color combination and so on and so forth, but corsets are also expensive to have made for oneself! So off I went to figure out how to make my own. Once I had figured out the basics of corset making, I through caution to the wind and offered my services as a corsetmaker for hire. The more I sewed, the more I learned and my skills improved with every corset made. I did pretty well for a number of years and also added making Victorian reproduction clothing to my repertoire of offerings.

After several years, the economy began to dwindle and the hayday of corsets (along with the decline of the US goth scene) began to really dissipate. I realized I needed to offer something else that had a lower price range and was a type of consumable, something people would come back for again and again. It was at this time I had started to make my own bath products for fun. (Bet you can guess where this leads!) There was a new building trend that had been born in indie bath and perfumery that I really thought was so creative and free spirited, so I took the idea of trying to offer handmade perfumes and bath products as well and made those available at Blooddrop. Today at Blooddrop, the perfumery and bath items are my main bread and butter. I do still offer sewn goods as time permits me to make them, such as my Carry Alls, pillows, and bedding. Sadly, time and the market has put the corset side on pause. As my children grow and go to school, I am finding the desire and time to be able to warm that burner up again. I miss it. Corsets are just such beautiful exquisite items and to have something like that made just for one person alone is so special. I really like working one on one.

You obviously draw inspiration from a lot of different sources – animals, folklore and mythology, literature... How do you choose which notes to use to express a particular character / scene / location / idea / etc.?

When I develop a scent, it can be created in a few different ways. One, I can have an idea, say I want to make a scent that reminds me of a fox playing in the woods on a sunny autumn day. For that I have a visual and through that visual I’ll think about what I might be literally smelling in that scene: trees, leaves, damp earth, cool air, funky fox fur smell (ok, maybe not too funky). Then I will think about the visual and the colors and what those colors might translate into for scent: the hues of the autumn leaves are warm, golden, orange, same as the fox fur. But the fox, if it’s a red fox, has a big foofy white bit at the end of its tail. Does that make me think of marshmallow or maybe vanilla earthiness? Is the sky clear and blue? Do I want to say something about that in scent? Another direction for a scent’s creation I take can be more experimental. For example, I might just stare at my ingredients on the shelf and grab a favorite, like quince for example, and then go back and stare for a while and pull something down to mix with it, maybe something unusual like black pepper, and I’ll see what that does. And I’ll keep repeating the process until I have something without a specific concept behind it. At that point, I will sit with it and smell it and ask myself what does it make me think of?

And another way I create a scent is simply if I smell something or even taste something that I want to reproduce in perfume. For example, earlier this year I was at a tapas restaurant and for dessert I had a vanilla ice cream with honey and some fresh thyme leaves. The thyme with the vanilla ice cream was insane! So good!!! I knew that I had to play around with those two ingredients for a scent.

I know you love and have horses, and have created a number of horse-inspired perfumes, like the Whinnies collection(s). How do horses respond to your perfumes? Do they react differently to different scents (if they notice them at all)?

I have no idea how horses respond to my perfumes because I never wear perfume to the barn!

Tell me about your collaborative project, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. How did the project come about?

Julia, of Arcana Wildcraft, and I had been talking one on one for many months and one day she asked me if I would be interested in doing a collaboration with her. I was like, “You had me at ‘Wou’!” But much time passed before we talked about it again. At some point I brought up Kay Nielsen, the guy who is responsible for the most famous illustrations behind that story, and his art and I think I mentioned how much I loved the name East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Julia agreed and we somehow decided that would be the work over which we would to a collaboration. The funny thing, or maybe not so funny, is that I had not read the story prior to talking about it. I only loved the name and the illustrations. So we agreed on doing the collaboration and when I went to actually read the story I was horrified! I mean it starts off with the father selling his daughter to a freaking bear so his family is no longer poor! Then some strange man gets in bed with her at night like some freaking pervert! And then this poor girl is the one who goes as rescues this guy and non only does she rescue him, she does so by proving she is good at laundry!!! Oh my god, what the hell?!?! After I read it, I was like, “Holy crap! I don’t know if I can do this! This is a horrible story!” And then I calmed down and reread the story several times and tried to see some beauty and fancy in it. That said, we agreed that next time we pick a collaboration where the woman is an amazing heroine! (Whoa, did I learn a lesson there!)

This isn’t your first time collaborating. You’ve often contributed perfumes to subscription-type offerings, such as Sihaya & Co.’s seasonal boxes. What do you find most rewarding about collaborative projects? And of course, what’s most challenging?

For me the most rewarding thing is, well, there are two things really. The first is that something I made is presented in a group with other items made by super cool craftswomen. The other thing is that my item is reaching someone who may not know about Blooddrop and this will introduce my work to someone new.

As for the challenging aspect, that would be how well my item fits in with the others. You want something that works with the theme and stands out on its own and is well received, but to not stand out too much like a sore thumb.

In a similar vein, I’ve heard a lot of great reviews of your Personal Art Perfumes. Has it been fun working with customers to create these custom blends?

I LOVE making the Personal Art Perfumes! LOVE IT! They are so challenging and scary and I’m always nervous that I will end up making something my customer hates. Sometimes I know some of my customers really well so it’s easy and I’m really excited to make something JUST for them. Also, I love love love reading the answers to the questionnaire. Some of my customers who have ordered them have been ordering from me for years, but they are complete strangers to me! Their answers give me a little insight as to who they are. It’s really nice and I like having these glimpses of them.

You offer a number of hair & bath/body products in addition to your perfumes. Given the season, what is your top recommendation for a winter must-have product to fight off dry skin, etc.?

My personal means of keeping dry skin in check is to not over do it with soap, always use a mild soap, soak several times a week with something that contains a natural butter (cocoa, shea, avocado, pumpkin seed, etc) and if you can’t soak or don’t like baths, have something you can apply in shower while your skin is really warm and damp. My favorite Blooddrop items for winter moisturization would be my solid bath butters (which I will be offering in January, I hope), my bath truffles, which are coming very soon this month, and my lotions, Flutter and Silken, also coming in the new year.

/// ScentBase Random Q&A ///

What is something you’ve never done but would like to try?

I would like to know how to make French macarons! I have all these books and supplies and ingredients on my Amazon shopping list. I just need to buy them and learn to make them!

What is one book you think everyone should read?

This is a very hard question! I don’t have much time to read these days, so my reading time is usually just reading fun, light hearted, slightly creepy, usually unusual stuff. I hate being told what to read so I’m loathe to do the same to others. That said, I think, given all the strife it causes in the world today, the Bible is something worth reading. And I also think it is important to have a very reliable news source to read from. Not a book, but I think reading the news is really important.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?

Japan! I especially want to go to that island place where there are a million foxes loose and you can hang out with them and pet them and have foxy nuzzles all day long! Talk about heaven!

What are you top 5 favorite songs?

Top five favorite songs? That is impossible to answer! I will give you five favorites that I love off the top of my head:

Lament over the Shadows by Christian Death
How it Came to be this Way by Autumn
Evidence of Heaven by Faith and the Muse
Into the Groove by Madonna
Les Gymnopedies by Eric Satie

Name one random fact about you that would surprise most people.

I hardly ever wear perfume! I used to wear it way more often, but since I work with it so much, I feel like I physically need to be a neutral palette and I can’t really wear fragrance to work, you know?! Ahahaha!

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