Can you tell us who you are and your background?
My name is Jacqueline Steele, my family calls me Jac. I grew up running around barefoot in Michigan and now I live and work in megacity Los Angeles. I release my work under the Goest Perfumes brand.
How long have you been a perfumer?
I started studying in 2010, as I was finishing my last year of college.
Has scent been a large part of your life?
Yes. I’ve always been extremely particular about it, very emotional about it. All my strongest memories are scent-based, which isn’t unusual - but I would react to scents even at a young age with feelings like “oh, that should be tweaked and it would be perfect”. And I always knew when I was smelling something for the first time ever, and I would try to remember everything about it so I wouldn’t have to lose it. I think it's the same way that a lot of fashion designers at a young age are super particular about their clothes and think in a corrective way. Tom Ford has talked in a funny way about him being a 6-year-old kid looking down at his shoes and thinking to himself about how the proportion should be changed.
What were you doing before you were involved in the scent world?
I was a student, for the most part. I studied literature.
How do you describe your creative style?
The rendering of nonnatural concepts, naturally. I like everything to seem like it could exist in nature in terms of the balance of the scent and the pace and levels it goes through as it slowly exposes itself and fades away. You can make the smell of salt or of leather live and bloom just like a flower if you compose the perfume right. This is hard to describe without getting into talk of specific molecules but in general, that’s the goal. A natural, effortless, sensual balance of objects.
How did you come about the theme and branding of Goest?
Goest is an English word, but it’s been forgotten from an everyday language for sure, an old form of “to-go”. “Whither thou goest.” Scent is highly transitive, it travels through a life cycle and is always leaving. Goest is also a homonym for “ghost”, which is what fragrance is - the ghost we choose to put on every day, a metaphysical identity and presence that gives us awareness of someone even before we see them with your eyes, and that lingers in a room after they’ve gone away.
Your customer, what type of persons do you think are drawn to your work?
I think people who are sensitive to anything too cloying, chemical-smelling, or sweet are drawn to it. I also always found pure “glamour” to be a little unpleasant. I try to have all the perfumes stand away from that, and I think they draw people with a sense of sport but also a way of stateliness. People who walk the line between masculine and feminine with their style, or in the way they think.
What effect would you like your work to have on those that smell it?
That the fragrances are meant to be worn and are therefore a pleasure to wear. Every scent takes the scent of the human body into consideration since when you apply perfume, you don’t just smell of the perfume - you smell like the perfume plus your natural smell. You’re always the magic element at the center of a Goest Perfume.
Have you worked on any collaborations?
I’ve done a few collaborations, some of which were pure-art installations. But I’ve done scents for-sale for Totokaelo, Assembly New York, Catbird… One of my favorites is with 69 Clothing, I guess you would describe them as an avant-garde unisex brand. The scent, “Summer of 69”, is the smell that hits you when you walk into an air-conditioned Office Depot in the summer but made beautifully and a bit juicier. It’s also the smell of a public pool deck, sort of a chlorinated herbal bouquet, all damp petals and bleached paper. It’s really addicting.
Do you think that scent and smell plays a role in love?
Yes, absolutely. But you can’t control it.
How you think someone smells is one of the last holdouts of nonverbal natural sensual truth - if you think someone smells musty or bad, you’re a bad sexual match period. It’s hormonal and biological and genetic and you can’t wash it away and you can’t think it away. This is why some people’s sweat smells so good, and other people’s smell so bad. It’s full of the information you can’t deny just like a flower is full of information you can’t deny. It’s older than humans for sure, older than language. That was probably the least romantic answer to a question about love ever.
What is some of the best advice that you have received?
You can’t please all of the people all of the time. I wish people gave me more advice, I love getting advice even if I don’t follow it all the time (if I always followed the advice I would have probably gone to law school anyway).
What do you see for the future of Goest?
There’s things I want to make and I’m driven by wanting to see them rendered in reality.
What are your thoughts on the micro and independent perfume industry?
It seems like it’s filled with geniuses. I’ve never met such a concentration of intelligent and intuition as I’ve seen in some of the other practitioners I’ve met, and also that I’ve seen in enthusiasts I’ve met. The conversation is just at such a high level, all the time, and I love it. Everyone’s such a poet.
Lastly is there anything that you would like to say?