eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Perfumer Interview Series: Kedra Hart of Opus Oils

Kedra Hart, creatrix of fragrant delights and owner of Opus Oils and the Jitterbug Perfume Parlour in Hollywood, CA, is one of those rare individuals that I can say I was instantly drawn to. The more you get to know her, the more you want to know. So, I found it natural to ask her to be a part of my Perfumer Interview Series. It turned out that this interview coincided with the official launch of her Les Bohemes collection (I have written about several of those scents), and also the 3rd Anniversary of her by-appointment-only Jitterbug Perfume Parlour. Kedra has become an inspiration to me creatively, and I am thrilled to be celebrating these happy occasions with her here on my blog. 

CM: How were you initially inspired to create your new Les Bohemes collection? What was the process like in creating it? 

KH: The Les Bohemes Collection began as a single Solifleur & blossomed into a whole garden!  It was quite a process spanning the course of several years. 

It all started with my fascination with a single flower - the Datura (Flapper)…  I used to live in Laurel Canyon & would take lots of walks around the neighborhood at night.  I loved the scent of the night air & would follow different scent trails until I found their source.  I became completely enchanted on many occasions by Daturas/Brugmansias in the area.  These mysterious beauties gave off a scent that was so unique & intoxicating that I spent a lot of time with my nose stuck in their petal trumpets! 

I wanted to use a Datura note in my Bespoke Fragrance Palette but there were no Datura captives on the market so I started work on a Datura Solifleur…  Over time, I began developing more & more Solifleurs to add to my Palette as a method of doing simplified Custom Scent Blends for special events where I didn’t have time to blend note by note.  I debuted this Bespoke Scent Palette during a Valentines Day event for the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. 

The Les Bohemes Collection came together as a group of scents from my bespoke palette that all fit into the theme of the roaring 20’s.  These were all perfume notes that were popular during The Golden Age of Perfumes.

CM:  Did you design all the Les Bohemes scents to blend easily together or was that something you discovered after the fact? 

KH: Pretty early on into my creative process as a Perfumer, I started thinking about the possibilities of creating a Fragrance line with layering capabilities.  The idea had been with me for a long time as I had experimented with layering scents long before I was creating them.  I can remember doing this when I was very young, with what I now understand were Solifleur Perfumes, that were acquired on family trips to Hawaii.  Orchid, Pikake & Plumeria were some of my favorites to mix & match.

I did have it in mind with the Les Bohemes Collection to have the scents work in layered combinations with each other. It was a monumental task to get each scent to the point that it was a "Star" in its own right as well as being able to play well with others! After years of trial and error, I am thrilled that the feedback has been so positive on the layering aspect of this collection!

CM: Do you ever listen to music while you’re composing perfumes? If so, what do you listen to?

KH: Music has always been a great source of inspiration for me.  I do blend with music playing most of the time.  My taste is very eclectic, ranging from rock to jazz, blues, swing & everywhere in between.

For blending, I tend to favor soulful singers like Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg.  Generally I like to listen to music with lots of feeling that encourages my mind to wander & dream, putting me into certain moods that complement the particular scent that I am working on…  

For the Les Bohemes Collection I was listening to a lot of “Flapper Music,” Edith Piaf & French Café Music. 

Lots of Psychedelic Rock was playing while I worked on WILD CHILD #13 for the Summer of Patchouli Love 2011 Scent Event, hosted by Monica Miller of Perfume Pharmer.  Which, I guess, must have been some good MoJo because my scent actually won 1st place in the competition!  

CM: What led you to want to have a brick-and-mortar perfume parlour in addition to having your products available online? Do you have plans to open any others?

KH: Our Jitterbug Perfume Parlour is really an extension of the environment that was happening in our previous workspace, just on a much larger scale!  Space had a lot to do with it, we needed more room for Perfume Classes & special Scent Events that we were putting together.  Also, the location was so perfect that it was hard to pass up!  We’re located in a building on Hollywood Blvd. that was built in the 1920’s…  Which is actually pretty rare in Los Angeles as this city is fond of tearing down old buildings & putting up pod malls.

I should mention that we are not your traditional brick & mortar.  Our retail space is open by appointment only, which allows us to provide a very special personalized shopping experience for our Customers & Bespoke clients.  

CM: How much bespoke work do you generally do? Does it account for a lot of your time?

KH: I do quite a lot of bespoke work both for individuals & for businesses, which suits me perfectly as my absolute favorite aspect of the Perfume Business is the creative aspect!  I love to get going in my atelier & slip into the trance headspace where the dreaming part starts.  At that point the fragrance I am working on takes on a secret life of it’s own - a personality with a unique voice in scent. I love to create living, breathing art! 

Tiger Powers for Dirty Sexy Wilde

CM:  Les Bohemes has marked a new chapter in the history of Opus Oils and is being received very well by the public and press, how are you going to follow up Les Bohemes? Will you go with another themed collection?

KH: I am thrilled that Les Bohemes has been offered such a warm welcome into the Fragrant Universe!  I really put a lot of heart & soul into this collection & I’m pleased beyond words that people have had such a positive response to these scents. 

I do tend to think in terms of themes when it comes to Collections...  An idea usually starts as a fascination with one aspect of something I experience (music, books, movies, art, food etc.). 

When I start exploring that one aspect it usually winds up dividing into different branches like a family tree.  By the time I get it all “worked out” there are usually several scents that fit nicely into the theme. 

There are currently several different areas that I am exploring that I could see turning into a Scent Collection project, but it’s still too early for me to narrow it down to one specific theme.  I’ll definitely keep you posted on that one! 

For now, keep your eyes open for a new unisex fragrance I created for Fetish Model Tiger Powers.  Being close to Halloween, Opus Oils is hosting a special “Pajama Party Massacre” launch (murder mystery party) Oct. 23rd, 2011.  Be there or be scared…  

CM: What’s one piece of advice you would give an up-and-coming independent perfumer?

KH: Well, it’s definitely a tough market to crack & there is no shortage of competition (or Haters)!  You really have to be passionate about the art of perfumery, because that is what will keep you going through the trials & tribulations that are bound to happen along the path of pursuing the business of being an Independent Perfumer. 

Of course it is important to really learn your materials inside & out.  Study them closely & let them teach you.  There are so many wonderful scented materials out there right now to explore.  I find myself in perpetual study mode as far as materials go. 

I encourage my students to be true to themselves & their own creative vision at all times.  This is the only way that they will be able to develop their own style or signature as a perfume artist.  It’s the same with any art form (perfume, painting, writing, music, etc.), it takes years of study & practice to master any craft. 

CM: What do you feel is your forte as a perfumer? And which materials do you love working with the most?

KH: That’s a tough question!  I really love working with all aromatics, but the areas that interest me most on the fragrance wheel, are usually the heart & the base notes.  My forte is probably rich, animalic florals. 

One of my absolute favorite materials to work with is Ambergris (the Mermaids Treasure).  I love the whole process involved in working with this ingredient.  Taking a solid brick & turning it into powder, then tincturing it for several months…  It’s a lengthy process to be sure, but it feels truly alchemical & I love that!  I also like to put it into Cocktails for a decadent treat. 

CM:  I appreciate the sense of fun and playful sensuality in all of your work. Would you say that also describes your personality?

KH: What a sweet compliment to my work!  I would like to think that also describes my personality as well, as I have always been inspired by artists & sensualists & I do try to focus on the bright & fun side of life. 

Kedra Hart

CM: The Jitterbug Perfume Parlour is coming up on its 3rd anniversary, congratulations! What do the next three years hold for Opus Oils?

KH: Thanks so much Carrie!  I am so happy to be marking this special occasion with you in this interview! 

It really does feel like a milestone of sorts to be making it to our 3rd year given this particular economic climate, especially the way things have been going for the past few years in California!

In the next thee years I would really like to extend our brand distribution to include more Fragrance outlets & specialty stores. 

I will also be focusing on continuing & expanding my work in Bespoke Services.  I am looking forward to continued involvement in the fragrance community. 

CM: What do you say to the world through your fragrances?

KH: I think of my fragrances as a celebration of life, beauty & magic!   I hope that translates to those who wear my fragrant creations.  I believe we should appreciate, respect & celebrate life every day!  Scent is a wonderful way to communicate non-verbally about beauty & pleasure. 

 Kedra's cat Gish, conserving energy

Kedra's soul kitty Neptune~ Rest In Peace

For more information on Opus Oils and the Jitterbug Perfume Parlour, you can visit www.opusoils.com. All photos courtesy of Kedra Hart.


  1. Thanks for sharing your tête-à-tête with Kedra, Carrie!

    I love getting a peek into the personal histories of perfumers and learning how thier loves play into their art.

    I grew up in the trailer parks and suburbs of Maritime Canada - a world away from California -and I get to experience Laural Canyon, Hawaii, Hollywood - all these places I have fantasized about visiting - through Opus Oils!

  2. Her forte is rich, animalic florals?? *drools*..why haven't I tried any of Kedra's perfumes before?? *off to ponder*
    Must plan a trip to the 'Jitterbug perfume parlour' (love the sound of that!)..

    Thanks for the interview, Carrie!

  3. Hi Joanne! Perfume is certainly one of the best ways to travel without leaving home, isn't it? Kedra is very good at evoking a certain time and place.

  4. Lavanya- I hope you find some Opus Oils perfumes you love!

  5. You know, Carrie, that I'm already a convert - and a devoted fan! Great interview!

  6. Thank you Carrie and Kedra, what a rare pleasure these intimate discussions are. Thank you for introducing me to Opus Oils. I have been getting a lot of joy in randomly sampling my Les Bohemes and Burlesque's. I really like the story book telling of these fragrances. I like my music this way too. I am looking forward to experimenting with some of Kedra's layering suggestions.

  7. Sheila- I'm so glad that you've found some Opus Oils perfumes to love, I just knew that you would!

  8. Sharryn- Thank you for your comment! Les Bohemes are so much fun to play around with, the possibilities are practically endless.

  9. Wonderful interview, Carrie. Several of Kedra's scents have been on my to-try list for a while (possibly thanks to reviews on your blog, now that I think about it), and I'm only waiting for an upcoming trip to LA to pop into the shop.

  10. What a treat to read this interview.
    I too, share with Kedra, the love of every step in the process of using ambergris and, listening to intense music when I creating a perfume.
    I have really enjoyed getting to know Kedra from this interview and learning about her creative process.
    Mandy Aftel

  11. All I saw was "ambergris in cocktails" and I decided that I need to somehow marry Kedra. This needs to happen, because I must have that cocktail.

    AWESOME interview, Carrie! I am loving all of my Opus Oil treats - not a dull or tame one in the bunch - and I cannot wait to see what else Kedra comes out with in the future! xoxo

  12. Thank you very much for your comments, apb, Mandy and Joey!

  13. ‪Hi Carrie!  I just wanted to pop by to tell you how much I enjoyed doing this interview with you!!!  It truly was my pleasure & I am absolutely "Tickled Pink" to be included in your New Perfumer Interview Series!  And thank you for your thoughtful timing - it was definitely a highlight of the weekend :~).  Your continued support of my creative endeavors means the world to me! 
    A warm thanks to everyone who took the time to read about my scented adventures!  Thanks for your comments - I am so touched by your thoughts on my creations!

  14. Love reading the behind-the-scenes making of my all time fave - Flapper! The spirit of the brand is so very LA, which I adore. Cannot wait to make an appointment soon enough.

    1. I'm so glad you connected so well with Flapper, it was my hope! I think you should try the whole Les Bohemes line when you can. I love the whole mix-n-match thing, and they're all stellar on their own. I can't think of another perfumer or company who has successfully done that.