Just because you’re lurking in a dark basement lair waiting for your next victim doesn’t mean you can't enjoy something soothing and sweet. I mean, you’re not a monster? Okay, well, maybe you are but even monsters need some me time and what could be better than lighting some incense, turning down the lights, and soaking in an aromatic bath? I mean, obviously, your monstrous but stick with me here, I’m getting to something. Jinx Strange is a part of a scent crafting coven, a collection of talented artisans with a gift, not only for their craft, but for the macabre. The Poisoner’s Guild began as a desire to collaborate between friends and scent crafters and has developed into an exciting new subscription box. I recently talked to Jinx about the Guild and what you can expect inside.
Dan - Tell me a bit about the Poisoner's Guild box. How did the idea come about?
Jinx - I discovered early on, through my friendship with the wonderful, generous and immensely talented Caroline Blicq at Hexennacht, that I really enjoyed talking and collaborating with other scentscrafters. I set up a Facebook group for professional scent artists to hang out, vent, and share things like vendor sales and tips. We had a pretty broad early membership from perfumers to wax artists, to bath and beauty.
Dan - The name is definitely attention grabbing. What's the story there? How did the Poisoner's Guild come to be?
Jinx - Caroline and I decided to do a collaboration together, in which she made soap and perfume, and I made incense. We decided to do something more conceptual, and settled on Eros & Thanatos. Alex MoeHagen, who does all of my illustrations, designed this wonderful image for us, and Caroline and I really labored over the creation of new scents that would be complementary.
The extra work and care seemed to pay off, as our first set sold out almost immediately, and we had a tremendous reception from our customers and fans.
Coasting on the high of that success, we thought it would be really cool to do something even more ambitious, with more artists. I love things that tell a story, and we already had a community of badass creators at our fingertips, so we simply put two and two together, and from that community, our first Poisoners Guild box was born!
As for the name, I'd called our scentcrafter group The Poisoners Guild, because I loved the idea of us as a collective of disparate artisans with a common purpose, always toiling at new potions, new methods of delivery.
Dan - Who all is involved in the Poisoner's Guild box? What artists and companies have joined in to create this unique subscription?
Jinx - The original box was Caroline and I, Hexennacht and Strange Fire & Fumery respectively, and from our scent group, Stephanie of Moonbeams Wax Meltz and Jaime of Bomb Diggy Bath & Beauty. Alex MoeHagen (Fumery illustrator and editor of Dear Darkling) is taking on our fulfillment and running the business with me, and Caroline and I collaborate on box concepts, brands and scent profiles.
Our next box will include contributions from Alkemia (perfume) and SickWix (candles) that coincide with our upcoming theme: Victorian medicine. The list of interested brands is growing exponentially, and I'm so excited to work with creators of whom I've been a customer and fan for years.
Dan - What part do you play in the creation/distribution of the box?
Jinx - While the Guild is very much a collective and collaborative project, I direct things, make sure that our concepts, scent profiles and product quality are all what they need to be. I work with the individual artists, do the marketing and underwrite the business. I also take responsibility for the execution and delivery. It's a passion project, but I take it seriously as a business, and all of the artists involved have their own businesses to attend, so I try to make it as easy as possible for these very busy people to participate. Alex and I manage the business together, and she handles our packing and distribution.
Dan - Tell me a bit about the products in the box. What can subscribers expect in terms of scent and sensation?
Jinx - My intention was to really depart from a lot of subscription boxes (TPG is not for subscription, in fact! Boxes are made individually, and they're ready when they're ready. We don't rush and we only make a limited number, and that's that), insofar everything is custom made and designed for the boxes, and are exclusive to that box for six months. Everything is conceptualized and consulted on with the artists with all of the other complimentary products in mind. We decide, "We want this spread of products, and we want these brands if possible, and we want this theme", and then we go and talk to the artists and start putting it all together!
I really want the process of opening and discovering these boxes to be special. I want people to feel transported, like an initiate poisoner, opening a clandestine chest of wares. Every product is prototyped and sent to me and Caroline for inspection. We only approach artists we know make superlative products, but we want to make sure the look and texture fits our vision, and that the execution of the scent profiles are what we need them to be. We work with extremely talented professionals, and so far the back-and-forth on these exchanges has been extremely enjoyable and collaborative. No one has been offended that we've come back with "notes". They know we're all striving for an elevated and carefully coordinated finished product, and I think they're all (rightly) very proud to be part of that.
Dan - Are there plans to do more of these boxes in the future?
Jinx - Oh my, yes. We opened our boxes for sale in a very narrow window and almost completely sold out right away. The reception far exceeded my expectations. We are already planning our next boxes and lining up our artists, and we're constantly pushing, constantly looking to pair established brands with emerging talent, and as always offer our customers the very highest quality of product and service that we can.
If you haven’t already, go to The Poisoner’s Guild website and consider treating yourself. It’s a great collaboration featuring some very talented artists and creators. Besides, after a hard day’s fright, wouldn’t it be nice to crawl back into the shadows and relax with some clever, wonderful smelling products?
Dan Lee is a film critic, editorialist, independent author, and horror culture correspondent from Tennessee. You can also follow him on social media @dotdblog