by Katie Ishizaka

By: Lisa Wilson

Lisa Wilson, our renowned fragrance designer has shared with us her experience of scent creation with Labyrinth Made Goods and how our newest scent brings out the Gratitude she has for the LMG team and the journey we’ve had together. Read below to learn from her experiences and what process and collaboration we take to develop a new scent! 


As we finalize testing for our newest scent, in the Labyrinth Made Goods Resilience Collection, I am honored to share why I am grateful for LMG and how I am forever changed by the resilience of the women in the Program and the staff supporting them. 

But first, let’s take a brief look behind the curtain to understand our journey to land on Gratitude, our first vanilla-forward scent.

 When we create a new scent for LMG, we start by brainstorming meaningful words--words that resonate with strength, hope, empowerment, or a moment of peace. Once a word/name is agreed upon by the group, we move to the feeling the name evokes. Where does it take us? What is around us? Is there a special memory of a person, place, or time that floats to the surface? 

So, Gratitude. What does that smell like? The resounding answer was feeling safe, being at home, wherever home might be. It could be wrapped up in a blanket in a favorite chair reading a book, or on a porch swing with a soft breeze blowing. But the smell associated with home was—vanilla! 

I’m grateful for Teamwork. Our Team agreed upon a scent that brings feelings of Gratitude, whether it was a memory of a loving grandmother’s cookies or simply a smell that made them joyous and grateful. Every voice on the Team was heard. 

I’m grateful to our fragrance house partner, Cosmo International Fragrances. Cosmo’s perfumers and evaluators give us the space to smell and react to the many ideas they present to us after we brief them. They provide tools to help me teach the Team how to evaluate candles beyond personal preferences and flashy trends that aren’t who we are. Everyone at Cosmo is invested in the success of LMG. It is gratifying for Cosmo and me to put our years of experience together and help reimagine systems to create positive change. 

I’m grateful for mutual respect. From the first day I met the women in the program, we respected each other. They trusted me. They shared what made them feel peaceful and safe. That first meeting led us to an important building block for every LMG scent—the importance of the scent being grounded by something in nature, like an earthy note, woods, and leaves. Because they felt free when their feet were on the ground somewhere in nature. We called that our “grounding note”. Every scent had to have it.

I’m grateful for trust. The LMG Team trusts one another to share their stories of what home means to them. And it was through that discussion that we came up with ways we could accent and “ground” vanilla, with woody notes, warm notes, and cozy notes. The LMG Team trusted me and the process and we built this scent from the ground up! 

I’m grateful to witness the members of the Team grow, learn, and have agency. Candice is now Interim Director! She is a rock star! Nita, who left this earth too soon, inspired Solidarity, our Lilac/floral scent. She encouraged women in the program when they needed a role model, with a smile and a hug. Read more about Nita on the blog Solidarity: Life Lessons Inspired By The Love And Power of Nita Nesby. Hannah loved the fragrance and made meaningful contributions to every meeting she attended. Ann had her marketing hat on when she smelled things and offered valuable ideas. I loved that about her. Marilyn jumped in the minute she joined the Team, and after her Apprenticeship, she is the first Business Specialist with LMG! Shay, who was an Apprentice with LMG in product development, was our first paid employee as a Sales Assistant!

I’m grateful to have Shay in my life. What started as an Empowerment Mentoring relationship has developed into a beautiful and lasting friendship. Shay has shown me what LMG can do after crushing obstacles had left her nearly hopeless. Mentoring Shay has lit a fire in me to advocate for women who have experienced incarceration for the rest of my life. 

I’m grateful to everyone and anyone who says, “how can I help?” when they hear about LMG and the work we are doing. Finally, I’m grateful for the day David Dow, a long-time advisor to LMG, called me out of the blue to ask if I could help with this project. All I remember is saying YES before he could finish his pitch. My life has been forever changed by this work and these women.