ANSWERING YOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Since launching Chronotope on August 1, 2020, I've received loads of questions I've answered privately. Below, I've compiled answers to the most commonly recurring of 'em. I'll update this as need arises in the future. As always, reach out if you need more info! —CWM
—What does Chronotope mean? Is it a typo?
Nope! It is not a typo. A chronotype is one thing, a chronotope is another. "Chronotope" is a compound word with Greek roots: "chrono" as in chronology or time, and "tope" as in topography or space. So, "chronotope" means "timespace." Russian literary critic Mikhael Bakhtin introduced the concept to literary studies in his essay "Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel" within which he claims:"In the literary artistic chronotope, spatial and temporal indicators are fused into one carefully thought-out, concrete whole. Time, as it were, thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible; likewise, space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history."
Put simply, a chronotope is the reflection of real-world space that characters navigate within narrative works. A common example—and one you'll find in my work, even—is the chronotope of the road, of a timespace within which people who would otherwise have little to nothing in common with each other meet and share a mutual experience as they travel. In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and in my perfume Buen Camino, this chronotope manifests as the space that pilgrims navigate as they travel toward their desired destination. You also find this same chronotope, this timespace, in stories like Callie Khouri's Thelma & Louise, Kerouac's love letter to Neal Cassady On the Road, Alfonso Cuarón's Y tu mamá también and Stephan Elliot's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Che Guevara's Diarios de motocicleta and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
But a chronotope also involves time: in each of these stories, which take place all over the world, the unit of space called "the road" manifests as dependent upon the time in which the story takes place. The same chronotope can appear in various geographic locations, but it does not transcend the historical time its story is set within.
—Why did you name your brand Chronotope?
Some perfumers use this form as a means of expressing their visual art within another medium. Others were chemists first and wanted to use their knowledge to create art. I bring a background containing literary and critical theory work, a bit of time teaching rhetoric, and work in the corporate world as a writer, editor, strategist and occasional event planner. In one way or another, I've always worked with chronotopes, even if I've kept it to myself.
A few years back, I opened up a half-milliliter decant containing an old, old, old—1930s?—formulation of Chanel No5 that I bought for an egregious price online from a French estate sale. I really couldn't afford it. But it made me realize: perfume is a perfect chronotope. Because there I was, suddenly, in 2000-and-whatever-teen, experiencing the same scent that the original owner of the perfume would have experienced once upon a time in France. All that separated my experience of the perfume and what the perfume's original owner would have experienced in the past was time.
Then when it came time to name this brand, I knew I was opposed to using my own name, so I went with the only other name that made sense.
—You say you reject the term "olfactive artist" in your bio. Why is that? Do you not view perfume as art?
Mostly, the term "olfactive artist" just makes me cringe. And "artist" doesn't seem like a title I should apply to myself—rather, one that others should apply to me if they think I'm worthy of it. (Then again, as a comrade told me once, I'd only ever really made money by writing before I started this business, and I also struggled with calling myself a writer.) And I do view perfume as art...sometimes. There's a lot of good work out there that presents new ideas and new ways for this form to exist. But there's also a lot of bullshit, copies-of-copies...so I also view perfume as a commercial product.
Mostly, I'm of the opinion that—thanks to social media(?)—there are just too many self-proclaimed artists of all stripes making work that has nothing interesting, or even anything at all, to say. There's so much drivel and bullshit. There's a difference between art as a hobby and art as a serious pursuit. The bullshit artist is even a millennial stereotype? I'm insufferable, but even I've got some boundaries. If you think I'm an artist and want to call me that, I can't stop you (though I might cringe). HOWEVER, DISCLAIMER: if I ever accept a commission to design a fragrance for someone else, I'll claim the title 100%, if only for the legal protections it can make room for.
—But do you view your own perfumes as artworks?
Not really. To me they're more like critical essays.
—Do you compound your perfumes yourself? Did you design them yourself?
Yes and yes. I did not (and can't imagine that I'll ever) involve any third parties in the ideation or composition of my perfume formulas, and I plan to operate as a one-man shop until I can't manage to any longer.
—How did you learn to make perfume?
I am a completely self-taught perfumer. Just over a decade ago, I began mixing my own cheap essential oil blends, and eventually I wanted to work with higher-quality materials. Then, at some point, I realized I was making perfume. And with intense study and lots of costly investments, the rest fell into place from there.
—Are your perfumes all-natural?
No. I enjoy working with synthetic materials too much to have released any all-natural formulas yet, though I am working on a few that I may release in the future.
—Aren't synthetic materials dangerous?
They can be! But natural materials like arsenic and carbon monoxide can be dangerous, too. Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's safe, and just because something is synthetic doesn't mean it's not.
—Are your perfumes safe?
My perfumes are composed per the 49th Amendment to IFRA's safe-use guidelines.
—What is your stance on IFRA regulations?
I appreciate and respect IFRA, compose with IFRA guidelines in mind and support the organization's continued existence. Additionally, I hold that perfumers who knowingly create and sell against IFRA guidelines should be loudly condemned as bad actors who deserve to be run clear out of the market. The IFRA maximum limit for oakmoss is fucking plenty—no formula needs more. And it's not edgy to endanger your customers or the industry. Rather, it's reprehensible and irresponsible.
—Are your perfumes vegan?
The audience I originally created my perfumes for is a small(ish) community of artisan perfumery enthusiasts and collectors for whom this isn't much of an issue; some even actively seek perfumes that deploy animalic materials. So my original formulas are not vegan and contain civet (Buen Camino) and castoreum (Playalinda and Spite).
However, I didn't realize my perfumes would receive the attention of a broader audience as they have so quickly, and it is not sustainable to continue making non-vegan perfume as my audience grows further. I want everyone who'd like to experience my perfumes to do so without compromising their own ethical codes.
So, I've been working on the backend to finalize vegan formulas since two weeks after opening, and on October 15, I will enable customers the option of choosing vegan or non-vegan perfume when they place orders. Non-vegan perfume will continue to be available until I run out of available stock. Unfortunately, until Q2 of next year OR until I sell enough to justify making essentially double the product I'd originally projected for (which could come before Q2, maybe?), vegan orders will receive a 15% cost premium to cover for additional labor, supplies and materials required for production.
Please email me at me [at] carterweeksmaddox [dot] com for answers to further questions concerning this issue.
—What kind of carrier media do you use for your perfumes?
I use 200 proof SDA 40B denatured ethanol.
—Are your perfumes autobiographical?
Yes...mostly. I took various creative liberties in writing the product descriptions in order to give readers a clearer idea of the product they'd be buying and to make the narratives about the perfumes' inspiration more engaging for readers. But I did walk the Camino in 2012, Playalinda is a very real nude beach in sight of space shuttle launchpads, and I am intimately familiar with the feeling of spite (and tend to dislike one of the materials I used in it quite a lot).
My next series of three perfumes, due out in late-ish 2021 or early-ish 2022, will not represent stories from my life at all, though. I don't have that much more to say about myself, and to use a tired cliché: you'd be mistaken to think that I can remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, much less how it smelled.
—Do you make any fragrances for men?
My products are made to be suitable for all wearers regardless of their gender. If it sounds good to you, it just might be for you! For example: my own father loves Buen Camino, which is a perfume. And my mother enjoys Spite, an eau de toilette. Gender is not solved because of the fact that I've got my dad wearing a EdP and my mom wearing an EdT, but their situation does reinforce that it's best to wear what you like and say fuck the rest.
—When will Spite EdP be released?
I wanted to have it out in time for the holidays, but that's looking unlikely. It'll be out in time for Valentine's Day 2021, though.
—Do you take custom orders?
I haven't yet, though I'm not wholly opposed...for a somewhat steep price and somewhat lengthy lead time. Email me at me [at] carterweeksmaddox [dot] com and let's chat.
—Do you ship internationally?
Yes. My shop is programmed to charge appropriately for international shipping, but this does not include any VAT or duties calculated and charged locally that customers will be responsible for upon receiving their packages. Additionally, I claim my products on customs forms appropriately as perfume so that neither of us get in trouble with and receive penalty charges from customs offices.
So far, all shipments to international addresses have processed and delivered without trouble—but this doesn't mean there may not be an issue in the future. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out at me [at] carterweeksmaddox [dot] com.
—Can I receive free samples of your perfumes to review?
Most likely not. Right when I launched, I handed out free samples to a select group of bloggers, reviewers, thinkers, and other perfumers who I trusted would, if they chose, deliver honest criticism of them and not just crank out some bullshit praise that might as well be an advertorial. Their names are listed below, and if I offer free product to anyone else, I'll add them to the list. I guess that could mean you get listed someday, but out of respect for people who collect my perfumes, paying customers and my own wallet, it's unlikely. I encourage you to buy a sample set instead.
Recipients of free perfume samples: Jane Daly, Victoria Jent, Josie Plumey, Mara Vranjkovic, Tracy Wan, Maite Martinez, Nick Gilbert, Gino Roy, Stephan Matthews, James Daly, Pep Dalessandri, Mark Behnke, Glen Davis, Ben Horner, Liz Moores, Thomas Dunkley
I'm glad to discuss this particular matter further if you'd like. Email me at me [at] carterweeksmaddox [dot] com and let's chat.
—Do you advertise?
I haven't yet, but that doesn't mean I won't. We've all gotta eat.
—Do you sell your perfume in any retail outlets?
Currently I only sell direct to consumer via this website. However, I am actively seeking (especially international) retail partners. Please email me at me [at] carterweeksmaddox [dot] com for a line sheet and more information.
—What are your return and refund policies?
Generally speaking, all sales are final and unable to be returned or refunded. But I'm not infallible or unreasonable. If you encounter a manufacturing-related problem with your order, please reach out to me [at] carterweeksmaddox [dot] com within five calendar days of receiving your order and include a detailed description of the problem along with pertinent photos of broken or otherwise compromised product to open a claim. I can't promise a refund or return! But I can promise I'll do what I can to resolve the problem.
—Who took your photos?
A brilliant Orlando-based photographer named Liv Jonse (or Zuk, depending). I sought out her services after seeing some work she'd done for Fashion Brand Company fully expecting her to turn me down, but I was lucky enough and she took me on as a client. Since my shoot, we've done two others with actual modeling talent that I'm giddy as hell to roll out. But 2020 happened, so there's been some delay. (It's my fault, not hers.) All in all, it's been a motherfucking amazing collaborative process working with her—a creative partnership in the purest sense—and I hope there's need for more collaboration with her in the future!
[Updated on October 1, 2020]