Aroma M & House of Cherry Bomb: American Perfumer Interviews

Hi there Posse. Recently I introduced you all to a new business called American Perfumer. The name says it all. Independent Artisan American Perfumers being put on display so you can find a large selection of them in one spot. Genius! From that initial post I was inspired to meet some of the people behind the perfume brands that are for sale at American Perfumer. They all get the same 10 questions so we can see how they differ and how they are similar. After I will give you a quick review of one or two of their perfumes. Today let’s meet Maria McElroy from Aroma M and House of Cherry Bomb

Aroma M & House of Cherry Bomb: American Perfumer Interviews

Aroma M & House of Cherry Bomb: American Perfumer Interviews

What do you recall of your families fragrances as you grew up?

My earliest recollection of fragrance is that of the tantalizing aroma of Greek pastries that would cover the linen tables cloths in my childhood home. These are delicacies doused in honey syrup and nuts delicately spiced with cinnamon nutmeg, clove and crushed almonds. These were the treats my mother, Opium clinging to her leopard silk blouses, would give my adoring, five year old self on sunny afternoons.

Where is your dream vacation spot?

That is hard to narrow down, most important for me is to have time to travel with my chef hubby. I love walking the streets of his hometown Kyoto or relaxing on a Greek island. I have a bit of wanderlust in me so it’s difficult to imagine just one dream spot. But if I have to choose one, I would say Egypt, as I have longed to go there. I can imagine every perfumer would love to visit the home of Cleopatra and queen of perfume and beauty.

How do you like to start your day?

I start my day by lighting some Japanese incense and then sitting down to meditate. I have had a cup green tea every morning for over 20 years, and recently have added a fresh green juice to my morning regime. Then, it is time to turn on the computer and start the workday.

Tell us about your life, family, business or career before perfume?

After receiving an MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute I continued my studies in Australia and became a Certified Aromatherapist. During that time I was living in Japan, where I studied Kodo, the ancient art of fragrance, Ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement Koto, Japanese harp, Shiatsu massage and Zen Buddhism. This seven-year journey, rich in Japanese history, romance and mystery, became the genesis of aroma M and the inspiration for my signature Geisha fragrance line.

How did you find yourself in perfumery?

When I returned to the states after living in Japan, I really wasn’t sure how I would use all my experiences. At that time there were almost no small perfume lines, so it took a leap of faith to step into the perfume world. But I honestly didn’t give it too much thought. I started to bottle some fragrances in my house, and a friend who had a store saw them one day and wanted to stock them. The next thing I knew, I had orders and boxes everywhere, it was time to find a separate space for aroma M. That is how it all started, very organic a passion project, here I am over 20 years later.

What is your favorite perfume note and why?

There are so many perfume notes that I love but I guess I would choose an amber accord. This deep, heady, syrupy sweet note has found its way into almost every perfume I have created. I love the boldness and powdery drown that it produces. I have some vintage amber that I found in Morocco, it is so intensely rich, and I cherish each drop!

How did you decide on your companies name, what is its relevance?

The first time I walked into Gion in Kyoto, which is the geisha quarters, I felt like I had been there before, but also like I was stepping back in time. Narrow streets lined with wooden buildings that are hundreds of years old, beautiful diffused light, with incense wafting through streets. The clapping of the geishas’ shoes on the cobblestones is the sign that you might catch a glimpse of one of these illusive women around a corner while rushing to an appointment in all their regalia. It’s the most mysterious and glamorous place. I fell in love with these magical creatures, the geisha.

My husband happens to be Kyoto born, so I’ve been able to see many performances, meet and talk with geishas and attend private dances. Geishas’ are beautiful, super-smart, really funny, and very, very talented. They sing, dance, and play at least one instrument, if not two or three. When I first started to create perfumes, I knew I wanted to name my collection Geisha. I sought to embody all that mystery and glamour and put it into a bottle.

What was the last novel or biography you read (current if appropriate)?

I am currently reading The Golden House by Salman Rushdie.

Hypothetically: If you had to pick a Signature Perfume that you didn’t create, what and why?

Serge Lutens Chergui – Romantically named after the Moroccan wind that blows in off the desert during the summer. I love the heady exotic oils and inspiration for this perfume. Deep and spicy, full of tobacco, honey, rose, and musk, semi-sweet balsamic, with incense notes. A honeyed hayfield with powdery iris makes me swoon.

Who are your fragrant heroes?

Serge Lutens
Jean-Claude Ellena


Thanks Maria for letting us see a little into your head and heart.

You can buy Aroma M and House of Cherry Bomb at American Perfumer

Aroma M & House of Cherry Bomb: American Perfumer Interviews

Aroma M & House of Cherry Bomb: American Perfumer Interviews

Desert Flower Notes: composed exclusively of rare, vintage Arabian oils: Lina (Desert Flower), honey, cedar, muguet, flower of honor (Desert Flower), Moroccan oud, Moroccan vanilla, Moroccan violet, chypre, Moroccan Amber.

The warm, smooth smell of rocks and earth baking in the sun, Desert Flower opens with the dry stillness of America’s boundless open spaces, a lot like Australia but not so much eucalyptus. The smell of skin after sunbathing moves through the heart with hints of honey and flowers but the breeze seems to have moved the air just a little and all specifics are now melding into one. Snippets come and go. Unlike the Arabian Oils that Desert Flower is blended from it is calming, quiet and meditative. You will be fragrant but with complete inner command, this is the fragrance of finding your centre under the vast open sky.


Aroma M & House of Cherry Bomb: American Perfumer Interviews



Portia also writes for Australian Perfume Junkies

  • houseofcherrybomb says:

    Thank you so much Portia! My apologies for my late response. I love your beautiful words on Desert Flower and that you found some of your native Australian desert in the perfume blend. It was such fun to answer your questions, thank you for including me in your fabulous perfumer interviews and thank you American Perfumer for the opportunity! xo

  • Dave Kern says:

    I couldn’t agree more Portia. “Desert Flower,” I think, represents Maria’s value system for the modern chypre; through her choice of these materials, deployed at parfum strength, Desert Flower somehow feels both intimate and big-sky wide-open. Satisfying, and flat-out beautiful. – Dave, AMERICAN PERFUMER

  • ElizabethC says:

    Geisha Noir is one of my favorites. Great interview!

  • Dave Kern says:

    Another great piece Portia. Thank you for it. Maria is such a lovely and thoughtful person. Desert Flower is truly imbued with its maker. Very proud of it around here. Best, Dave – AMERICAN PERFUMER

    • Portia says:

      You’re welcome Dave.
      Maria’s personality comes through in the interview quite distinctly, I think we’d be friends. How freaking good is Desert Flower?
      Portia xx

      • houseofcherrybomb says:

        Portia, I’m sure we would get on brilliantly! Here’s to a trip to NY this year!! xoxo

  • matty says:

    Geisha Vanilla sounds lush

  • Kathleen says:

    Another interesting insight into a perfumer’s world, I love these! I have sampled Aroma M Geisha Vanilla Hinkoki in the past and really want to sample Amber Rouge.
    I was not familiar with House of Cherry Bomb. Love the thought of vintage and rare oils and ingredients!

    • Portia says:

      I’d missed most of the House of Cherrry Bomb too Kathleen and was totally unaware Maria was using vintage ingredients. Or maybe I’ve forgotten. It is totally intriguing and I can’t wait to get my sniff on some more of them.
      Portia xx

  • rosarita says:

    Another fascinating interview, thank you Portia! Geisha Noir is my favorite from this house, so deep and gorgeous. I enjoy my samples of the vanilla scents from a couple years ago, too, and now I want to try Desert Flower.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there Rosarita,
      I remember when Geisha Noir came out and the whole world exploded for it.
      Bet you’ll love Desert Flower too.
      Portia xx

  • Brigitte says:

    I love that you are doing these,Portia!
    If I am being honest I will tell you that I never tried anything from this house. I had emailed her a while back with a question and she never responded to my email so I kind of dismissed this house.
    Desert Flower sounds good though 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Hey Brigitte,
      Yeah, it’s bringing me into contact with a whole new group of perfumers and reuniting me with some old friends. Loving doing it.
      BUM, that’s a shame about the no reply. I wonder if you went into spam and got lost there?
      Portia xx

    • houseofcherrybomb says:

      Hi Brigitte, I am so sorry to hear that you did not get a response from us. I answer all the inquires personally, so my apologies. So sorry your email fell into the cracks. xoxo