Shen sits down with Anne Nelson Sanford, founder of LURK
Posted on June 21 2016
Q: How did you find your passion for fragrance?
I found it through my mother and at a very young age. It was the early 80‘s and the fragrances of that time were so intense and I was pretty transfixed by the extreme nature of them: Dior Poison, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Paloma Picasso (my first perfume) etc, etc.
More than any other scent Paloma Picasso really started it for me. I can remember, like it was yesterday, finding the small sample of this perfume scattered among my mothers fragrances and beauty products when I was 11 years old. I had always loved to explore the bottles and jars she had in her bathroom and on that day that small vial caught my eye as it was new, something that wasn’t there the last time I had rummaged her things. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I opened it, as I never really liked the fragrances she wore. They were beautiful, but not my thing and looking back they were so quintessentially 80ʼs, loud and expansive (which now I find amazing and nostalgic). Until that day I figured perfume just wasn’t for me. Most of the scents I had experienced were very floral, heavy and uber feminine. So I was more trying to figure it out, to understand why people wore it. I was also a little mystified by it, how it became more than an accessory, and truly a part of a person. How when I smelled certain fragrances they would immediately remind me of people, places, things, experiences etc. But when I opened that sample I was riveted... Literally. The scent was something that I immediately loved. It kind of confused me and drew me in at the same time, and I couldn’t get enough. It was dark and different, a bit masculine, intense and all over the place & I didn’t know it could be like that. From that moment on I loved fragrance and it started a journey for me to seek out that experience over and over and to find scents that were more androgynous, more mysterious and edgy so to speak.
Q: What was the deciding factor to start your own line?
It was very simple: I just couldn’t find a natural fragrance that possessed the qualities I was looking for. The backstory is that I opened an apothecary in Florida in 2001 (before I moved to New York) and I sold only natural and organic skincare/body care products. The shop was the first of it’s kind in Florida and it was during that time that I became interested in oils and natural perfumes. I was always looking for natural fragrances to stock and the market was limited at that time, so I started dabbling with my own scents and was inspired to create something sophisticated, modern and a little bit “out there”. I wanted to create something that was beautiful, luxurious and didn’t ask the customer to compromise. Im a strong believer in authentic luxury and for me, natural is authentic. It would be several more years before LURK would come to fruition and I am still inspired every day by my work. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love.
Q: We know you are a mom. What role has family played in the creation and execution of LURK?
It has played a very large role: Having my own business has allowed me to be closer to home and be with my son more. This was a very big factor when LURK started and to this day that remains the same. Like most entrepreneurs the hours can be long and the stress levels very high but being able to construct the company around my sons needs and my own needs makes life much more manageable and much more fulfilling. I honestly can’t imagine how I would be a single parent if I was not working for myself and doing what I love. It translates into every aspect of my life and my family.
Q: Making fragrance can be very personal at times. What fragrance speaks to you the most and which scent is your most favorite to make?
I would say TRN V4 and VLC V2. These 2 scents most represent my personality as well as the depth and level of complexity I seek in a fragrance for myself. My favorite scent to make is NST V7, the layers and the formula are challenging and I am always astounded by the end result and that never gets old.
Q: Your process for making each fragrance is made by hand. How important is this process and using locally sourced products?
They are both very important. A large part of the nuances and uniqueness of the scents start in the handmade process. I also source domestically/locally whenever I can. With the perfumes I create though, the raw materials can be quite rare and exotic so that presents a challenge. So many of the extracts and essences are simply not grown here in NY. I am able to get my organic jojoba domestically and that is huge as the bulk of the jojoba on the market is grown in other countries. Finding that source was a very big deal for us.
Q: How did you manage to keep Eau De Toilette green just like your perfume oils?
It took a long time to be able to do this and we actually held off on launching them for about a year as we were unable to find the right natural/organic preservative for the scents. We are using a fully organic, proprietary preservation system that is comprised of wild thyme and wild marjoram & to date we are still the only fragrance company using this material. It was very challenging from a blending/formula perspective to maintain the scent profile of the perfumes as the wild thyme and marjoram initially impacted them. Through a lot of tweaking and tenacity we were able to get them into the formula while maintaining the original scent profile of the perfumes. We also used an organic pharmaceutical grade alcohol. Pharm grade is triple distilled and is the absolute purest alcohol available. We absorb alcohol through our skin so it had to be the absolute cleanest available. So much research and time went into these formulations and we are very proud of what we were able to do.
Q: We see you are launching your new LURKshop in Shelter Island. How did this come to be and what is your vision for this store?
We are so excited about this!! I originally opened the shop in 2014, there weren’t any green beauty boutiques on the East End and the demand was/is definitely strong. This will be the third season on the East End for LURKshop and yes, this year we reopened on Shelter Island. We’re super excited about the move as I live on Shelter Island now and have also moved my studio there. The pull to Shelter Island has been very strong for me and for LURK. The island is such a magical place and the community is so wonderful as well.
The shop is about turning pre-conceived notions about what green is on it’s head so to speak. My goal with the shop was/is to create an environment that is really about amazing, super luxurious products that are innovative, beautifully designed and made to perfection by makers, creators and visionaries. My philosophy for the shop is the same philosophy that drives my fragrances—I believe that all products should be sophisticated, effective, safe to use, give the best possible benefit and experience, and should never ask a customer to compromise. The luxury experience is imperative.
Q: Shen was the first to receive your new packaging and scents. Can you tell us a little more about the switch up and the launch of the new scents with Shen: BS 004, VLC V2. Inspiration, dreams, ideas, etc.
The packaging evolution has been a long time coming and it represents the progression of the brand. I wanted to maintain the simplicity of the bottles while taking it to a place that is stronger visually and represents the modernity of LURK. The new look is cleaner and a bit more sophisticated as well which we love. The choice to launch our packaging and our newest scents with SHEN was very natural and very deliberate at the same time. SHEN represents for us the best in retail and was one of our first retail locations. The support and energy is amazing and to say we are honored to be a part of Jessica’s vision and lineup is an understatement.
Our newest scents exclusively available at SHEN are BS 004, which is an evolution of our bestseller BS 003. The original is very light, summery and androgynous with a spicy undertone and BS 004 takes that summer vibe to the next level with deeper citrus notes and more complex layers. Its a bit of a sun soaked cocktail and is less spicy and a bit more lighthearted than its counterpart.
VLC V2 is a blue cypress, vetiver based beauty that I created this past winter in anticipation of the summer. Most people don’t associate woody fragrances with warmer weather but this one is all sun, sex and skin for us.. This blend incorporates super seductive woods with juicy pink grapefruit and sensuous florals that are never heavy or overdone. We can’t get enough.