Since late January, my new home away from home has been The Ruby.

The Ruby is an arts and letters–focused work and gathering space for creative Bay Area women of all definitions located near my actual home in San Francisco’s Mission District. 


The Ruby has connected me with a lively community of extraordinary women that includes writers, chefs, and artists – to name just a few talents on board – and I’ve already learned so many valuable skills from the workshops these women have led. So when Ruby founder, Rachel Khong, invited me to teach a workshop to introduce members to perfuming, I jumped at the chance to give back. 

Thirteen women joined me on a Saturday afternoon to learn about the art and science of perfume craft. The workshop began with a lecture covering laboratory basics and materials safety, chemistry, sustainable sourcing, and of course, fragrance blending and formulation. At first, I was nervous that my students were all going to fall asleep during the science-heavy part of the lecture (as a former biologist, I can be quite loquacious about chemicals) but everyone’s curiosity both surprised and delighted me.


During the second half of the class, my lovely students dove into sniffing the over 35 essential oils and natural isolates I had brought for their olfactory enjoyment. In addition to the usual ingredients like lavender and vetiver, I also provided a few rare essential oils sourced from my trip to the Peruvian Amazon, including Moena Alcanfor (which is featured Carta’s debut fragrance, Moena 12|69) and a delicious palo santo – the most unique and heavenly one I’ve ever smelled. 

I had the pleasure of working closely with each one of my students to formulate and blend a custom fragrance to their taste. I was amazed at how sophisticated their blends were given that none of the women had any background with perfume craft!

Interestingly, yuzu was a popular choice across the board – yet no one did yuzu the same way. There were spicy yuzu blends and woodsy yuzu blends – it was fascinating to see where my student’s fragrant explorations led them. 

The class was three hours long but time just flew by! Each student left with her own bottled perfume and my guidebook that covers everything one would need to know to continue perfume craft at home. Several students emailed me the next day to tell me how much they adored their perfumes, which made me so happy to hear.

I’ll be teaching another perfume workshop at The Ruby in the next few months – stay tuned!