Interview: Gary Lodato of Good Judy

September 20, 2011

Good Judy is a homegrown perfume business based in Leicester, NC (just outside of Asheville), and is the labor of love of self-proclaimed "smell-goodie" junkie, Gary Lodato, a.k.a. Siggster. Gary's vegan, cruelty-free perfumes are meticulously hand-crafted from essential oils, fragrance oils, attars, resins, and absolutes. The line has grown to include other products such as soaps, scrubs, candles, and other goodies.

I am lucky enough to live near Asheville, and have had the great pleasure to meet Gary on a few occasions (and test out Good Judy's wonderful wares). This month, Gary was kind enough to grant me an interview for the ScentBase blog.

I understand from the Good Judy website that you've been making perfume since 2007. How did you get started?

I was a full-fledged perfume oil junkie for a few years prior, spending a lot of time and money collecting the precious liquid and amassing quite a large stock from various different e-tailers. Eventually, I started mixing these oils from various perfume e-tailers, making my own personal blends to wear. Friends and family took notice and began encouraging me to make oils for them too. That led to a lot of research and studying on essential oils and the perfume industry. Soon after, I started amassing essential oils and single notes and blending my own perfumes. After a year of trial and error, and a lot of more-than-generous help from Vajra at Conjure Oils, Good Judy’s original category lineup was born.

It's pretty clear from your various perfume themes/categories that you draw inspiration from a lot of different sources. How do you decide what a specific perfume should smell like (if it's not obvious, as with the Mary Jo's Bakery line, for example)?

I love this question and am asked it quite often, but sadly never feel like I can fully answer it properly. Sometimes the perfume comes before the name. Sometimes the name comes before the perfume. I let the process happen as organically as possible. With the less obvious perfumes, I create using thoughts and emotions and personal interpretation. I do my best to interpret my thoughts and emotions and parlay them into a wearable creation, hoping that the perfume will invoke the same thoughts and emotions for the person wearing it.

Is there a particular scent that is your most popular? 

Actually, to date, there is a three-way tie for the most popular oils: Gravy, Uke, and Atomic Cheesecake.

Do you personally like all the scents you create, or are there some that you know are good fragrance combinations, even though they don't appeal to your personal taste? (And if the latter, how do you judge a scent that you might not personally use?)

When I first started creating, I naturally gravitated to blending perfumes with notes that I preferred. I’ve come a long way since then. There are blends that are great combinations that I am definitely not fond of on a personal preference scale. One of them is in the top three best sellers mentioned above. The lesson I learned quite early on is that I have to take myself out of the equation (on a personal preference/ego/judgmental level) and allow the perfume to birth itself. As far as knowing if a perfume oil I may not personally use is Good Judy worthy, sometimes I give samples to friends and family for feedback, and sometimes I just put it out there and let it have a life of its own. I’ve had some very surprising positive results doing the latter of the two. 

Do you have a personal favorite? 

I do…but it is not available on the site. Gravy was my Signature Scent for quite a long time. Now I wear a special blend I’ve created just for me. Who knows, it may turn up on the site when I’m ready to share it with the world! As for the blends that are available on the site that I wear a lot, I would have to say Kyphi (in Repertorium) and Cake Eater (in Time Capsule 1920s). Love ‘em both!

I think it's very cool that you offer a custom perfume option. What has that experience (working with customers to blend their "signature scents") been like?

It has been wonderful! I enjoy interacting with the fans and creating something personal in the process. It has been a pretty even mix of those who know exactly what they want and those who need some consultation on what may or may not work together. It’s also very inspiring for me! I have created some very unusual perfumes that I would never have thought of making…with positive results. And I love the names that the customers come up with. It has been a great experience.

Good Judy was on hiatus for a little while this year, and now that you're back, I notice there's a new section on your website, Good Judy's Boutique. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

The Boutique was inspired by the Good Judy brick and mortar store (which has closed, with Good Judy & Magic Bean Candle inventory moving to The Circle in Asheville) and my wonderfully talented friends. The online version is still in its fledgling stage and there are a lot of items that still need to be added. I wanted to support my friends and provide them a venue to offer their wares. The Boutique is a great showcase. I am excited to say that I am also currently collaborating with a few of them to create custom Good Judy originals.

What's next for Good Judy? Can you give us any hints about what you're working on now/new themes you might explore/etc.?

Ahhh…I love a good tease! As I mentioned above, I am working with some local glass/metal artists to create custom perfume bottles and diffuser charms. I am really excited about that. I can tell you that there are a few new perfume categories that are in the works, one I am working hard to release in the next couple of weeks. Magic Bean Candles has a new line of incense that we have been test marketing in the retail store (with great success), so hopefully those will be added to the site soon too. And, of course, there’s always the ever popular Halloween and Winter limited Edition perfumes! 

/// ScentBase Random Q&A ///

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live, and why?

When I was younger I would have said Australia. I have always had a fascination with Australia. I will go there for a visit one day, but as far as living goes, I am in complete love with my mountains and perfectly content right where I am at.

If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do?

I would add a covered wrap-around porch…with rocking chairs and a porch swing and all the rest of the fixings.

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?

Hmmm…first person that comes to mind is Sigourney Weaver. If they were still alive I would have said Divine or Cass Elliot.

What are your favorite songs right now (not necessarily all-time favorites, but lately)?

I cannot get enough of Tame Impala! Their album “InnerSpeaker” is so good. I have also had Death Cab’s “Soul Meets Body”, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll” and Metric’s “Help I’m Alive” stuck in my head for weeks. Plus, anything from the 1920s! My Roaring 20s Spotify playlist gets a lot of air time! 

What book do you think everyone needs to read right now?

I am a voracious reader, but rarely read new/current books. Right now, I am completely addicted to 1950s/60s serial pulp books and anything relating to American gothic or LGBT issues (fiction or non).







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