Anne Serrano-McClain

Founder of MCMC Fragrances, this woman makes organic perfume

Photographs by John Molloy, Instagram @ballyscanlon

Anne Serrano-McClain is a Brooklyn based organic perfumer, as in a bone vide, fully qualified Grasse Institute of Perfumery trained perfumer. How cool is that? Act casual…

A Brooklyn resident for over ten years, one day, not so long ago, Anne and her husband finally decided it was time to ‘put down some permanent roots’ in the form of an old house built in 1899. A ‘handsome house’ that required a lot of updating on the inside, it took a entire year to renovate. It was clearly worth it; they describe their home as ‘a blessing in this crazy city’.

In 2009, Anne, 34, founded organic fragrance company MCMC, a boutique fragrance house she runs with her sister. In amongst the fragrance, cologne and beard oil (true story), Anne, inspired by her newly renovated home, recently debuted two atmosphere mists (aka room sprays), Sea Glass and Desert Rose. (Unusual, given that room-spray stuff is usually jam packed with chemicals – let’s get some).

Mom to two boys, Kairo, almost four and Seneca, six months, Anne is realistic about what a woman with two young kids and a business can achieve. Having it all? We all know that’s a lie. Having enough? According to her, most definitely.  Meet Anne, you’ll like her…

I actually hadn't given fragrance much consideration...

Until I was in my mid-twenties, that is. By that time I'd graduated from college and was was working in interior design in New York City. While I was happy to be in a creative field, I had this nagging feeling that I hadn't quite found what it was I really wanted to be doing. I started dabbling in this and that - I took a jewelry class, I was still doing a bit of photography (what I had studied in college). Then, one night I randomly stumbled into a natural perfumery class and that was it. I was immediately captivated by the amazing colored liquids in their glass bottles, and it seemed like each oil was a world of it's own. The fact that they were these precious plants and flowers distilled from nature just seemed perfect to me. From there, I began really an obsession with perfumery. I read books, I ordered ingredients and tinkered at home. Eventually I decided I wanted to pursue it in a serious way and I applied to the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in southern France and attended their training program.

When I launched my business...

I worked any and all hours that I could. I remember my first Christmas season, our packaging was still handmade and I was up at 2 am still cutting stickers for our bottles. Six years in (and two kids!) and my schedule is definitely different. My schedule is dictated these days by the boys' daycare, essentially. All of the sudden it's like I have a nine to five again! I think the tricky thing with having your own business is that there's a feeling that there's always more you could be doing so the temptation to work all the time is great.

Working with my sister is...

Great! There's a level of trust there I think would be hard to find anywhere else. There's never really slacking off on either of our parts because success for the business means success for the both of us. Plus, we can kind of read each other's minds.

The advice I'd give to anyone starting a business, especially a woman with children...

Is the mantra I tell myself often and that's "everything in due time." Especially now that I have kids I find myself not always hitting deadlines I originally set for myself. But if you keep plugging away, everything will get done, and it's never too late.

Renovating a house, running a business and having a baby has been...

Um...stressful! I try to be careful to not succumb to the stress because I know how much of a blessing it is to be able to do these things but I officially feel like an adult now!!

Before I became a mother I was the centre of my universe...

I was interested in my own self-growth and could use my time to pursue whatever it was that I wanted. Now, I put my children first and have this kind of awe for parents everywhere because I know that's what we're all doing.

I'm not sure I know an elegant way to put this, but...

The single thing I want for my children right now is to preserve their innocence. When I look in their eyes, I see so much innocence, so much purity. I want to preserve this.

When we have a bad day...

We have this funny tradition, we put on our "red pants." For some reason, we all ended up wearing red pajama pants and the act of putting them on means we can fully relax!

I'm scared...

We made a lot of progress in the last years in this country legalizing gay marriage, demanding equal pay for women, and confronting racial inequality. It scares me that our new political establishment may not support these issues as much. Children are born without prejudice and what a world it would be if it remained that way into adulthood.

I feel like I'm going through this seismic shift right now...

I've gone from basically being a kid to having kids. I feel like I'm mentally in this in-between stage where I'm still mourning my going out days a bit. In five years time I hope to be totally comfortable in my skin and jolly and fully on the next plane, you know?

Tell us a joke...

Not a joke but a funny story. Recently we were in the car. My husband was driving and my son Kairo and I were in the back seat. We pulled up to a stop sign and a girl just opened the passenger door and sat down in the seat. She thought we were an Uber! Even my three year old son was dying of laughter.

My Favourite Things

My Kids Favourite Things

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@nicoandnate