From the first scent “DAMN REBEL BITCHES” to new scent “DAMN REBEL WITCHES,” SANT met the co-founder of REEK Perfume to reveal the meaning behind the unique perfumery brand and what the playful titles really stand for.
For those who aren’t familiar with REEK perfume, tell us how you came up with the idea of creating a perfumery brand and what it stands for…
The idea for REEK perfume came after finding out how little memorialisation of women there is in the world. For example, in the UK only 15% of statues are raised to women and most of those are to Queen Victoria. We want to celebrate history’s forgotten women and collaborate with all the brilliant bitches of today. Our first scent DAMN REBEL BITCHES is in celebration of the Jacobite women whose actions led to the first call for female MPs in 1746.
REEK may come across as a strong and unattractive word to some, how did you come up with the brand name?
We’re all about reclaiming language and challenging beauty industry norms. Most of the brands we see day to day are about looking, smelling, and above all, being pretty. REEK has powerful connotations, even though throughout history the word simply meant to smell. We find a similar reaction to the word ‘bitch’. With so few positive words to describe strong, unapologetic women, we are proud to join those reclaiming that word and others.
As well as the brand name, both of the scents definitely have standout titles. What made you choose ‘bitches’ and ‘witches’?
The DAMN REBEL BITCHES (Jacobite women) were demonised in their era by the press and those in power, and we see women receiving the same abuse today for standing up for what they believe. We wanted to take that abuse and claim it. DAMN REBEL WITCHES is to memorialise women throughout history who were vilified for witchcraft, as well as those who self-identify as witches today. Our WITCHES is the same bitch with a darker twist. Whether it’s witchcraft or bitchcraft, we stand with powerful women around the world. Perfume can be a silent but smelly rebellion, while our gender equality stickers (sticky bitches) help us shout about causes we care about, sent in by our sticker vigilantes.
Tell us about the process of creating the perfumes, what ingredients are used to make them?
We work with an amazing award-winning and, of course, fabulously feminist indie perfumer Sarah McCartney. She helps us put together the notes for our scents, hand mixes, and hand pours every bottle. At REEK perfume, we aim to be transparent. Most brands go out of house to create their products but never credit the talent.
BITCHES notes: Blood orange, clary sage, pink peppercorn, malts, and hazelnut
WITCHES notes: Blood orange, malts, hazelnut, orange pips, moorland twigs and leaves, leather, and tobacco
The idea of releasing campaign images with no retouching really challenges today’s climate of Instagram models, using filters, and airbrushing on every photo. Did this idea come from challenging these standards?
The team at REEK perfume is predominately made up of fashion creatives. We regularly see over-retouched images of women go out into the world, which creates an unrealistic standard of beauty. We wanted to challenge that on every level. We refuse to use retouching. Why would we? These bitches are all perfect as they are. We try and capture a wide array of realistic beauty. From size 6 to size 22, aged 18 – 79 we have managed to capture brilliant gorgeous bitches of all shapes, ages, and races. It’s something we are really proud of. All of our REEK models pick the images we use of them and do an interview on our blog, BITCHES UNITE. Our models are not objects.
How do you want people to feel when wearing a perfume from REEK?
However the fuck they want to feel.
For someone who creates new, interesting scents; what are your favourite smells?
Our co-founder Molly was recently interviewed by the Perfume Society and admitted her addiction: the smell of Elnette. We all have our smelly vices. It’s scientifically proven that smells spark your memory to remember emotions over details, hence why we all get so nostalgic over scents and odours.
What has been the most rewarding thing about creating REEK so far?
Without a doubt engaging with such a broad spectrum of amazing and empowering people. From our REEK models, blog writers, and customers, the response and support has been overwhelming. DAMN REBEL BITCHES ALL!
Where do you see REEK in the next 5 years?
We have a very smelly plan for world domination! Over the next five years, we want to add more perfume to our collection and more social causes to tackle with bitches everywhere.
Words: Becky Boyd
HASHTAGS: #REEKPerfume #DAMNREBELBITCHES #DAMNREBELWITCHES