Sunroom Q+A: Liis Fragrances
For Alissa and Leslie — founders of new-to-us, CA-based fragrance line Liis, scent is mood, it is feeling. Transfixed by the potential of fragrance and memory to transport us, they created their minimalist edit of signature unisex scents inspired by specific places, memories, and states of being. To learn more about the line, how they got started, and how they describe the three beautiful fragrances in their collection...read on!
We love the transformative way you speak about fragrance — can you share a bit more on your philosophies behind the power of fragrance and scent to transport us back to specific times and places?
Alissa: Fragrance affects our subconscious and is tied to emotions, mood, identity, attraction, memories and even escapism. I love fragrance as self-expression and how it’s an extension of oneself. It helps you feel put together as a form of self care and inspires you for the day. Fragrance is so personal and can be interpreted in so many different ways.
Leslie: Fragrance receptors are in the same part of the brain as emotions and memories. What’s fascinating, those connections are different for everyone. In that sense, scent has the ability to transform your mood and by extension, your identity. It can help you discover new parts of yourself or act as a bridge to connect with others.
Can you share more about your own journeys to creating your line? What led you to founding Liis (and what is the story behind the name)?
Alissa: We had this idea in 2009 when we both lived in London. I had just finished my MA at ISIPCA, the renowned perfume school in France, and was working for Penhaligon’s. Leslie was studying at St. Martins for her master’s in design. We have both been obsessed with fragrance since childhood and loved the idea of creating something of our own.
Leslie: Alissa and I met and quickly realized we had a love of fragrance in common. We decided that some day we wanted to create our own line, and finally started working on it in 2017. I’m so proud that we followed our dream and that we created this brand completely on our own, just the two of us.
Liis comes from the shared letters of our names — Alissa & Leslie
What inspires your individual fragrances that you offer? Can you share more about the process that inspires the story behind each one?
L & A: We draw inspiration from our experiences and surroundings, the scents are from our point of view and are all very personal to us. Rose Struck is inspired by the idea of capturing a fleeting moment, Studied by the idea of being introspective, and Bo by an area of Northern California where we coincidentally both grew up.
Can you share more about the ingredients that are in your fragrances — how you source and what goes into creating a fragrance?
L & A: We work with a supplier who is the leader in sustainable perfumery materials, which is so important to us, and they help support farming communities they work with. Our grain alcohol is sourced domestically and we don’t use common preservatives or additives. Our box is also FSC and compostable!
What is a favorite scent or one that holds a memorable story for you?
Alissa: Each scent holds a special place in my heart. Our process for developing each scent was different, Bo was the first concept we worked on and was inspired by where we grew up, so that one has a nostalgic feeling for me.
Leslie: All of them! They were inspired by ideas from our everyday lives, much like the way a writer might share parts of themselves and their life through writing.
Do you wear fragrance personally? If so, is there a specific scent or note that feels like it is your "signature"?
Alissa: I wear different scents daily. I love trying new combinations, sometimes mixing several together. I’m drawn to fruity notes, they’re immediately uplifting — Pear, Tangerine and Cassis are fruity notes found in Liis. I also love Rose, our Rose Struck is vibrant and fresh, great for a sunny day!
Leslie: Now that we have created a line of scents that we adore, I’m able to wear different fragrances depending on my mood that day. I love Ambrette, cassis, and vanilla notes, which are in Studied, Rose Struck and Bo, respectively.
It can be challenging to communicate fragrance digitally (as much as I wish there was a scratch and sniff feature on my phone - maybe someday!) Is there a quick one-liner you use to describe each of your three signature fragrances when you're asked?
L & A: Bo is an amber/woody scent; Studied is a bright, addictive skin scent; Rose Struck is a vibrant, tangy, fresh rose. All are truly unisex.
What inspires the names of the fragrances (thinking specifically about Bo and Studied!)
Bo is inspired by and named after a village in Marin County, California, where we spent time as children. It’s located in a stunning region along the coast with lush forest, grassland, and rugged beach with a marine layer. The residents of the town used to remove the road sign to avoid tourists finding it. So we shortened the name of the fragrance as a way of “hiding” the origin, like taking down the sign.
Studied is a quiet, personal skin scent, inspired by the idea of a scent worn for the wearer. The name is inspired by taking space for yourself to be thoughtful or create. When Leslie was younger she used to sit on the floor of her room in a pool of sunlight reading books and magazines. The Ambrette top note feels like a pool of sunlight.
Rose Struck is inspired by roses frozen in ice and a winter storm turning into spring, with vivid skies of pink and orange. It’s intended to capture an intense fleeting moment, suspended time. The name is based on coming in like a strike of lightning. We like to think this scent has “big rose energy.”
+ Quick Fire!
What are some small things you're doing right now to take care of yourself (mentally, physically, and/or emotionally)?
Alissa: Getting outside and enjoying the wilderness, also a good night’s sleep!
Leslie: Taking walks, setting workday boundaries
My creative/design ethos in three words:
Alissa: Minimal, thoughtful, evocative
Leslie: Essential, dedicated, inventive
I always start my day with:
Alissa: A cuddle from my cat (and coffee)
Alissa: I have a strong sense of intuition
Song or musician I’m loving right now (link a playlist or album if you’d like!)
L & A: The Liis playlist!
The thing I find myself recommending over and over again (maybe a purchase, or a recipe, or just a personal life hack or practice you get asked about often)
Alissa: Since I’m a product junkie, friends ask me for product reco’s. With my signature red lipstick, I also get questions about my favorite lipsticks.
Leslie: My chili oil recipe, so easy! Also, I love a good CSA box.
My ultimate escape – real or imagined:
Alissa: I’d love to visit the Salt Flats in Bolivia
Leslie: Anywhere in nature