May 10, 2016
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind it?
When I was in college, I made a woodworking kit titled “Fortitude” which was inspired by George Nakashima’s teachings of respecting the life of a tree. After I started exploring natural perfumery, the same concept – of respect and transformation – came up again, so “Fortitude” seemed like the obvious choice.
Have you always been passionate about design?
I’ve always been a visual person and knew I wanted to do something creative as a career … however I never anticipated using scents as a creative output.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I come from a family that uses natural remedies for everything – from honey for burns, to lemongrass tea for stomach aches – so I have always seen nature as a source of healing and fascination. After college while I was looking for a job (think lots of free time), I bought a book on natural perfumery and started buying all sorts of essential oils and botanicals. The process was fascinating to me, and I haven’t stopped ever since!
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
Rather than making traditional perfumes – where it is hard to pull apart individual components – I like to focus on single aromas and enhance them using complementary notes. I really enjoy knowing getting to know each note, and I think my work reflects that.
My skin care products were really designed for myself. I have super sensitive skin, so I try to keep the ingredient list as minimal as possible and use gentle formulations.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
Well, they say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master, and I have found perfumery to be no exception. When I first started, every product was unsuccessful, but I suppose I’m rather resilient to failure (thanks design school!). The more I learn, read, and experiment, the better my work has gotten – it’s all about pushing through the vulnerability and building on progress.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
I have a full-time job as a designer, so I rarely have free time now days. Every second outside of work is spent either making products, or catching up with life. It’s a sacrifice, but I think it’s worth it because I know I’m working towards something bigger.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
A couple of days ago, a friend went to see a house for lease and the tenants had one of my botanical sprays sitting around. It may sound silly, but it’s little stories like that which make it all worth it. I enjoy having these little connections with people.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Austin is a city full of artists and entrepreneurs, so seeing success around me was definitely encouraging when I first started. Being around so many makers is also great for collaborations! Our newest candle is a team effort with Austin ceramic studio Exposition Goods and we loved getting to creative a fully-custom porcelain tumbler.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Don’t get discouraged! It can be tough to put yourself out there – especially if you’ve worked hard and are proud of your work – but once you push through the vulnerability, it’s very exciting.