Wednesday, 29 October 2014

An interview with Evonne of Darling Clandestine

All photos in this piece have been taken from the Darling Clandestine Facebook page, with permission. 

Very recently, I had the opportunity to ask some questions about Darling Clandestine of the lovely creator, Evonne. Evonne reached out to me because she likes my blog (!!!! Does this mean I'm famous now? It does, doesn't it? I feel like I should call my mom. I can't decide what she'll roll her eyes harder at, this, or the fact that my real life fame now extends to my picture being on the year-end university library report) and I tried my best to come up with some questions that a) haven't been asked before and b) were equal part interesting, informative, and fun. Plus a dash of pure silliness. And here are Evonne's thoughtful answers. This was a lot of fun for me, and quite exciting, so I hope you enjoy this too.

What are some of your favourite FrankenBitsies so far? What combinations surprised you?

The gourmand scents tend to make fabulous FrankenBitsies. Tilt-A-Whirl + Morderteile Kelah (“MorderKloud, the devil’s strawberry lemonade”) is certainly a fan favorite. Another interesting, if not quite perfect, combination was Gram-Negative + Mishigami, two wet and sandy darlings of mine. A really pleasantly surprising combination was one I toyed with a while back: Small Saga + Hellbender, Sagabender. Just the teeniest bit of green kept that from being overly dessert-like. Very nice.

Where do you draw your inspiration for your scents or new products from? Do you find that living in a new place has changed your direction for scents at all?

From a bustling city to wide open spaces, I’ve certainly changed environments! And there are certainly different smells and different seasons out here, and I have found myself taking cuttings and sniffings on my jaunts through the brush country. I have also become more experimental with purely “natural”—that is to say, botanical—scents. Distilling my own essentials was a dream of mine back in Chicago, and now it seems entirely feasible to do that. It’ll take lots and lots of research and experimentation, though.

The space in my mind has remained much the same. Before I was a Chicagoan, I grew up a country girl, and my imaginative gaze was broad. This place feels immediately like home. I still take inspiration from memories, encounters, longing . . . vague and intangible things. That said, I think I’ve been able to be more playful out here, now that I’ve got the opportunity to really let my fanbase see more glimpses of my wackiness. I have a couple of releases planned for—geez, Valentine’s Day, that’s, what, four months away??—that are pretty darn hilarious, and definitely reflective of my new surroundings.

And oh, man, I keep coming up with new fragrances. I can’t stop myself now. You ever go to a concert by a band that’s been around for a couple of decades? You know how the crowd goes nuts for the classic hits but gets a little “eh” when the band takes a detour into new songs? Ever wonder why the band doesn’t just stick to the classics and stop trying to plug that new album? It’s because they’re artists, and they need to create. Even if they’re older and tamer and have families and have kicked their heroin habits, they cannot stop creating. And it’s boring to keep playing the same song for years and years, even if the crowd does only want to hear “Born to Run”. Now, I’m not anywhere near past my prime—I think this is DC’s golden age—but I’m using this analogy (just stay with me, okay?) to explain why I don’t have, for example, Limerence in the shop right now. “I’ve been working on some new material!”

Yes, this “new material” gets problematic. When I’ve got something like sixty fragrances rotating throughout my inventory, I’ve got to choose my releases wisely. I get a bit nervous when somebody says “I can’t wait to try X” and I don’t plan on bringing X back until June. I try to keep as many year-round offerings in the shop as I can, but it has become a bit of a juggling act. I’ll get to that a bit more in the next question.

What's the best part about doing DC full time, now that you've been at it a few months?

The best part is being able to interact more fully with my customers. I’m better able to keep folks in the loop about my upcoming plans, message them about order preferences (“Do you want to ship these together?”), let them know when that scent they’ve been asking about is about to return. I pride myself on being extremely communicative and responsive with DC enthusiasts, and more time not being stuck in an office means more time to get to know the folks I’m really working for. :) 

I still do freelance writing work for a medical society, and every so often I’ll have to catch myself—I’ll damn near finish an email to, say, a Mayo Clinic neuroradiologist with “You rock ass! XOXOXOXO” or somesuch. That’s fun, too, in a terrifying sort of way.

Oh! Oh! And chicken breaks! If ever I need a moment away from working, I just step outside, breathe this big ol’ air, and haul some water and a bowl of veggies to my dozen war-hens. They’re named for the marketing staff at my former job, you know.

!!!!One thing I want people to understand, though: Since DC is now my only job, it’s also my only source of income. And that means that whereas before, when I had a regular paycheck, I could occasionally splurge on supplies (my perfuming supplies can be very $$$$) and keep my inventory well stocked, I now have to very carefully choose which products I have in the shop. 

As I move forward, my offerings will probably become increasingly more seasonal, because while my fragrance line keeps expanding I still have to pay the bills. As an example, during my “Falloween” release, I only offered Fall/Halloween scents, and that seemed to work well, not only for my budget but also for my sanity. I plan on doing something similar for my Shark Friday sale. (It begins November 14 and I’ll talk more about it later in this interview.) It’s been bugging me a bit to think that I’ll have to limit people’s choices in the shop during prime holiday shopping time, but I have to do it or it’ll be too overwhelming. 

I have seen a very large increase in business since I quit my day job (thanks, everyone!!!), and while I have more time to spend on the shop, I also continue to be only one person. And I’m reeeally sorry that I can’t offer a more expansive collection during the holiday rush, but again, I have to be reasonable about what I can handle. I’ll have some new releases, a couple of early winter favorites—Hellbender and Kendraberry—and maaaaaybe a few items from the year-round line, but only items I already have bottled and cooked and poured. 

I know you use different liquor bottles to brew your scents in - do you choose certain bottles for certain scents? 

Gram-Negative base

Often I do! If the scent is something a little more playful, I’ll choose a more playful booze bottle. More reverent scents, like my Christmas releases, get more formal and beautiful bottles. Falchion lives in a cobalt blue wine bottle because the blue is so reminiscent of the Falchion story image. Pestañas is brewed in a Templeton Rye bottle, because I think my Papi would have approved. Sometimes I simply choose what I happen to have in the house, though, because sometimes the mood to blend a scent strikes suddenly. Also, I have an alarmingly large number of scents in Kraken rum bottles. I'm a fan of the black rum. Those bottles are clear, so they're wrapped in brown paper and tucked away in a dark cabinet to better preserve the fragrance. Lately I’ve found myself a bit short on bottles more often than not, though. It’s a combination of having lots of new scents and being remotely located from a comprehensive liquor store, I guess. At times I’ll find I have the sudden urge to make a scent and all my bottles still have booze in them . . . so I’ll have to take one for the team. ;) 

What is your current favourite from your catalogue? What do you think has the right amount of spooky for this time of year?

Oh, it’s so hard to choose from your babies! But I definitely have my extra special darlings. I tend to favor the deep, damp, weird ones, the ones with the darkest stories. One that fits all those preferences and most certainly meets “spooky” requirements (and will also be available again soon—I can’t mention one that folks can’t buy right now; that’d be cruel) is Vardøgr. Exquisitely strange, Boss Level 9. I’ve just brewed another batch, on a promise, and I think it’ll appear in plenty of time for Shark Friday.

I know how much you love sharks. But how do you feel about bears?

Ha! I think that if I could choose to be an animal and my choice was based solely on favorite foods, I’d go with the bear ‘cause, dude, raw salmon and honey. Also, bears love boomboxes.

Any teasers for upcoming wintery things you want to share?

Folks may have already seen the preview for My Lady Ser, inspired by the relationship between Podrick Pane and Brienne of Tarth in the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones series. That one will appear for Shark Friday. Grace, my all-botanical Christmas fragrance, will also be a Shark Friday release, and it is really quite beautiful. I think I mentioned earlier that Hellbender and Kendraberry will be back as well. I don’t want to absolutely promise the other surprises because they’re still in the works, but I will say that one is inspired by an owl and one smells like a rainbow. :)

A little more explanation of Shark Friday, for folks who are new to DC: I work as a reporter for a medical conference in Chicago the week after Thanksgiving, and I close the shop during that time. To allow plenty of wiggle room for customers to receive their packages before the holidays, my “Black Friday” happens a little earlier than at most stores. This year, the plan is for Shark Friday to happen around noon on November 14, and continue through the weekend. Afterward, I’ll close up shop to devote all my time to packing and shipping your orders before I set off for Chicago. 

Some people participated in a special offer and have been emailed a 25 percent off discount code to use during Shark Friday. (If that’s you, and you know who you are, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s not you, and if you didn’t get your code from Etsy, send me a message.) 
Everyone else will be able to use a 15 percent off code, which I will announce on Shark Friday at

Again, I want to emphasize that I wish my offerings could be more expansive during the Shark Friday sale, but I have to pace myself. That said, I do plan to open again in mid-December, with whatever inventory I have left, including year-round stuff. If you’d like to get an idea of my rotating catalog, you can check out the DC Discography here.

You can find the Darling Clandestine Etsy shop here. Thanks again to Evonne for giving me the opportunity to ask some questions and for giving such detailed answers!

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