Tanja M. Laden Fraggle Rock
When she was 12 years old, Beth Barrial had a life-changing experience in a park after dark with some friends.
"A scent passed me by that sparked a strange, unfocused memory from early childhood," she describes. "I had a sudden recollection of one perfect moment of joy and complete freedom, unfettered by worry, responsibility or care, and it was truly a moment of contact with the sublime."
Not unlike in Marcel Proust's famously extended account of eating a madeleine and drinking some tea in his early-20th century work Remembrances of Things Past, Barrial realized that the scent is what triggered her memory, so she immediately became enamored with the sense itself: "I pursued my interests in fragrance the old-fashioned way -- through apprenticeship. I had no intentions of turning my interest in perfumery into a career. It was something I loved, and something I wanted to learn and experience for the sake of that love."
But she has turned it into a career. Together with her brother Brian Constantine, Barrial started Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab in 2000 in the back room of her then-boyfriend Ted's Echo Park apartment. That boyfriend is now her husband, who's since launched Black Phoenix Trading Post, which deals in dry goods, beauty products and other stuff related to the fragrance line. Together, the trio still runs a family-owned business that specializes in making one-of-a-kind products inspired by specific memories, pop-culture icons and a wide variety of other unusual sources.More »