In collaboration with FELIZ, we’re highlighting five of the designers who will be showcasing their wares at the biannual pop up market happening on December 9th. Get to know the makers and their journey with entrepreneurship before visiting them at the sale in December!
For the next interview in our series, we chatted with Katy Couron of Boyd’s of Texas. Boyd’s crafts natural, handmade fragrances in their San Antonio-based studio in the form of perfumes, face and body oils, and bar soaps.
“Katy blends all natural, non-synthetic scents in San Antonio with a distinct nod to West Texas,” as the curators of FELIZ tell us. “Think lavender, grapefruit, vetiver, and cedar. I find myself stopping at their table throughout the sale to take a sniff and a short mental break before diving back into FELIZ. Green Vetiver is sitting on my desk as I write for the same purpose.”
Learn more about what goes into a typical day at the studio, how inspiration for the scents comes about, and what Katy’s best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is in our conversation below.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before Boyd’s, and what led you to start the business?
I was leaving a previous career in the Air Force and I knew that I wanted to start something from scratch. What came out of that was a few very basic, handmade bath and body products. I ended up naming the company after my “adopted” grandfather – Boyd. What I knew at the time was that I really wanted to do something with my hands. Boyd had been a bricklayer most of his life and he instilled in me an idea of what a good day’s work felt like.
Formulating and making products isn’t laying bricks, but I wanted to make products that reflected the hard work and dedication that went into their creation. I started making basic skincare products and eventually we kind of took a big shot – I asked my husband Dennon to leave his work doing web development and we dedicated ourselves for almost a full calendar year to learning classic, turn of the century perfume techniques.
What has been the most unexpected part about owning a business?
Time is our most important ingredient. Both for our business and our fragrances. We tend to want everything now, but building some of our scents takes months to allow certain ingredients to cure properly. That requirement of time is something we’re slowly getting used to.
Additionally, the responsibility of knowing that it’s only us [and] everything comes down to the creative decisions we make is something I really enjoy, but it took some time to get used to. It’s sometimes stomach-turning, but I wouldn’t trade it.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, they are never the same – which was a big adjustment when I left the structure of the military. Much of our creative process is in the search. We spend time searching our old books and articles, hoping to learn new skills where we can. Perfume is a craft that you could do for decades and still be learning new information, and we feel like we’re still very early in the process. In addition to the creative aspects, every day includes regular operations of fulfillment, customer service, and planning.
As a maker, where do you go for inspiration? What fuels your creativity?
Inspiration and memory have a deep connection in scent, so the smallest little hints of a smell can sometimes transport you to other places, or remind you of something forgotten.
We’re based out of San Antonio and the summers here are very hot and sticky. Everything just bakes for months on end. There are little pockets in the city where you’ll stumble upon jasmine or honeysuckle or rosemary growing, and when it mixes with the sweaty heat of summer, it’s very alive.
But beyond walking past things that trigger something in us, we try to act as designers of our fragrances. So we take inspiration from all over – art, movies, food, travel. Next year, we have a trip planned to Japan, and we’ll be staying in a few of the traditional hot spring ryokans, so we just started working on a scent that will draw from that environment. We’re excited to work on that one.
How do you think markets like FELIZ play a role in the small business community? If you’ve participated in FELIZ before, how have you grown with the sale?
We believe there is no substitute for relationship-building. We enjoy participating in Feliz because it gives us the opportunity to speak directly to our customers, to tell them what we’re up to and hear first hand what their experience is with the fragrances. We also take time to build relationships with the other business owners around us. We learn so much from each other!
Is there anything you’re currently reading or listening to that’s been an inspiration for you or your business?
We keep NPR’s “How I Built This” (and the Tom Petty channel on Spotify) playing on repeat. Hearing how other people built successful businesses is inspiring and insightful. Any time we’re on a road trip or traveling we’ll listen to the podcast and then discuss what we took away from the interview. It’s actually helped us better understand each other as co-business owners which makes us better.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to start a creative business?
Get started! We’re a perfect example of learning on the job — what you want to be doing, what your customers want, what you’re good at, and that it’s okay to adjust your brand.
Images by JoMando Cruz and Boyd’s, courtesy of Boyd’s.