MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
MH: It was an evolution of things; something I think many multi-passionate artists go through (Like you, Monique!). There is so much I love to create- that is something that has always been and will always be inside of me - baking, painting, gardening, designing, sewing. It’s endless.
When It comes to fragrance, I think you could say it truly started my love of nature. It’s funny, I remember SO vividly when I was living in NYC… During one winter, I was so starved for some greenery that I recall staring at this weed, just starting to grow beyond the fenced in 5 square-foot patch of grass in my building. I sat there and seriously debated stealing this thing that most gardeners lament, just so I have some connection to nature in my apartment.
MS: What are your favorite parts about what you do?
MH: Both finding Inspiration and the design process. My inspiration comes from finding beauty in the ordinary world around us all — and sometimes those moments just wash over you so completely, that they stop you in your tracks. The way a ray of sunlight casts down through the leaves into a singular blooming tree, or the sounds of a robin singing in a rare mid-April snowstorm.
Finding those moments - those are some of my most favorite parts. That’s when I know there is somewhere there, something great to create from, share, and push even deeper in new ways.
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
MH: In the short term, My goal is to move into a new manufacturing facility, expand my operations, bring on a small fulfillment team and start getting my work into larger stores that share a similar vision of artisan crafted goods that are made with purpose.
In the long term, I have grand visions, with plenty of space for things to develop organically. I see MIZU becoming a community spot for people to gather, to exchange ideas, to grab of the worlds best coffee and explore life through the senses. Being trained now in art, fashion, some culinary, and fragrance, I strive to combine all these passions into a flagship storefront, where guests can be transported into a unique world, by setting foot through our doorway.
A courtyard cafe that serves delicate Japanese inspired pastries and perfumed treats, with teas and coffee and plenty of space for people to rest, commune or get some work done. On the other side of the courtyard is a manufacturing facility where the bulk of all our products are lovingly crafted and designed. Greenery and hanging gardens are busting from the walls, and even a little plot of land out back to grow some things to be used in our ever growing assortment of botanical wonders.
MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
MH: Just start — And that goes for any entrepreneur out there. Dive in, but do it responsibly ( don’t quit your job right out of the gate ). Try new things. Read books on your craft. Never stop learning, but most of all - just get started. Now is the right time.
Also - Value time off. Make sure to create balance in the beginning, or it will become more difficult to do so as the business grows.
MS: What is something(s) you wish you knew in the beginning?
MH: Nothing. Knowing anything more would mean I wouldn’t be where I am now.
MS: What is your favorite food/drink-related memory?
MH: I thought a long time about this question, but the memory that came to me most strongly was the time I share a meal with my grandma, whom I called Mango, in Wells, Maine. I was probably around 15 or 16, and we were both trying to eat healthier at that point in our lives. So instead of our standard fried clams or hamburgers, we opted for the Salad Bar at a local grocery store. To say what we ended up with was salad is quite generous, it was mostly toppings like croutons, boiled eggs and cheese, over a THIN bed of iceberg… but we tried.
It was a cloudy and cold day, either early spring or late fall. We drove a couple miles down the jetty, set up our folding chairs to face the harbor, and just enjoyed a quiet meal together. We talked about everything and nothing.
Those moments of being totally with someone you care about, without a care in the world, are the most precious to me. Even if, in the moment, they seem of little significance.
MS: What is your ideal day in the work life?
MH: MIZU is my baby ( or maybe they’re a teenager now ), and I love getting to do this “ work” everyday.
Getting up early ( around 4:30 ) and taking some time to slowly rise. Meditation and journaling, followed by some puppy love and a cup of coffee. A quick workout and walk with the dog, and I’m back to work - Spending the first few hours doing something that feels productive, like filling orders or production. Followed by an afternoon of creative freedom - usually in the form of sitting in my perfume studio and experimenting with blends or simply being with my materials, and listening to the scent.
It may sound funny, but natural oils have their own personalities - they all vary depending on each harvest and where they were grown. If you sit with them closely, you get clues as to the mysteries they hold and the origins of where they were grown. It’s very similar to the terroir of wine, or buying seasonal / local food.
MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
MH: To me, finding balance is about scheduling it in on busy days, and then giving yourself time to just flow when it’s quiet. So, at least 3 times a week, I turn my phone on airplane mode from 5pm - 6am, and I don’t work on weekends anymore. This gives my mind some time to “turn off” and let go of the stress that can sometimes build up. When I get back to work, I am more effective, passionate and feel refreshed.
For us creatives, I think it so important for us to recognize that Creative Time is Productive Time. And sometimes that may look like just playing around, or drawing a few lines on a canvas. You can’t measure it the same way as you would a more finite goal like wiring emails. Schedule it in, and allow yourself to flow.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
MH: Independent perfume is a relatively small field, and I never would have guessed how welcoming everyone in this community is. I’ve met great friends and have shared thoughts and techniques with so many perfumers, some of which are much more well known that I currently am. It’s a totally different way of working than when I was focusing on fashion. This is a true community!
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
MH: To me, supporting local doesn’t just mean supporting small local businesses.
Look to your entire community. How can you make someone’s day better? What small act of kindness can you share? Compliment your barista’s earrings. Hold the door open. Help someone reach the box of cereal at the supermarket ( if you’re vertically blessed, that is ). Be kind and watch the chain reaction that ensues.
If you’re not able to financially support local, then messages of encouragement are JUST as welcome. Comment on your favorite local shop’s social posts ( this is a huge help !! ), Recommend them to friends, Leave them a review, or just send them a quick message saying you love what they do. I promise it will make them smile.