Interview with Dasein’s Founder and Perfumer Sam Rader


Dasein's Winter unisex fragranceIt’s finally autumn and the sweet scents of summer are finally being replaced by my favorites. I love the darker spicy scents of fall, until I had a chance to try the new fragrance by Dasein. While I don’t like cold grey days and winter is full of them, I have to admit that I may actually begin to look forward to the end of fall.

The tiny sample card that was included with my regular mail was crisp, clean, and white. The outline of the perfume’s bottle could just barely be seen, while the word “Winter” stood out begging to be noticed. The little card also included a few of the fragrance notes, which certainly made me thick of winter and being cold. Blue spruce and forest pine, along with black cardamom and French lavender absolute were the ones listed, but I already had a feeling that Dasein’s new scent was going to be complex.

According to the company’s website, “Dasein’s Winter unisex fragrance aims to evoke the soul of the winter season-the transition of making your way through cold forest night air into a haven of warmth and merriment with friends, which leaves you feeling wonderfully at peace.”

When I opened the tiny sample vial the first thing that I thought of was Christmas at my grandmother’s house in Michigan. The scent of the pine needles and tree sap reminded me of the large Christmas trees we used to cut every year. Mingled in was a hint of fresh snow when it is white, thick, and perfect to play in. Mixed in was the smell of fresh cut wood, which is forever linked in my mind with Christmas trees.

As I was reading through the company’s website I noticed that the founder and perfumer of Dasein lives in Los Angeles, California, a city that is almost always above 20˚C. To be able to remind me of my childhood Christmases I know that Sam Rader had to have experienced winters at some point in her childhood. I was fortunate enough to be able to find out some interesting details about Sam Rader’s life including why she chose the German word “Dasein” for her company’s name.

Sam Rader, founder of Dasein

Sam Rader, founder of Dasein

Sam Rader, founder and perfumer of Dasein discusses Winter, the first of four scents that are each dedicated to one of the seasons.

James: What did you do before founding a perfume company?

Sam: I currently am a psychologist with a private practice in Los Angeles. Perfumery is one of my many side projects and passions, and I’ve always had creative outlets since I pursued my doctorate and opened my private practice. I find that being a therapist is a creative process, but I have found that my love of sounds, colors, textures, and smells has lead me to pursue arts outside of work. I am also a singer-songwriter, and do paintings and collages at home. I used to teach yoga, and I love to dance.

James: Why perfumery and how did you learn to mix the different scents?

Sam: I have always loved to smell different things, and thoroughly support the avant garde fragrances. When I was vacationing in Big Sur, in 2012, I fell in love with the salty air mixing with the sagebrush, wild lilacs, wood smoke, and the pavement covered in the morning mist. I realized then that I wanted to mix and bottle all of the different scents that don’t seem to go together.

I learned to mix and bottle perfumes by myself. I ordered, online, hundreds of natural and synthetic oils and just began blending them. I never took a class or read a book on blending it is just intuitive for me. I have been helped by other perfumers though, who have been available to answer some questions that were either practical or aesthetical.

James: Why choose the name Dasein?

Sam: It is a German word that translates to “presence” or “being there”, and that is what I want my perfumes to do. I want you to notice the fragrance, and for it to have a presence that softly lingers. The word is beautiful, and it describes perfectly everyone’s desire to question and experience a more meaningful contact with everything that we come into contact with. I chose the name simply because I want people to question what is normal for perfume and find something that gets them notice and celebrates existential individuality.

James: The first in the upcoming line of seasons is “Winter”. Why did you choose the seasons, and why did you decide to release “Winter” first?

Sam: I initially wanted to create fragrances that reminded me of all of my favorite places, but quickly realized that it was simply too ambitious. I don’t know how to conjure scents for body odor, wet pavement, or subway exhaust which definitely left out New York City and L.A. By the end of summer in 2013 I decided to do a scent for Christmas, and it was originally intended to be in a set of four. Unfortunately this was also to big since it is impossible to mix, package, and send four fragrances to the stores in under three months. This is what lead to the creation of “Winter”, and I realized that I could still create three additional unisex scents for each of the seasons.

James: You’re perfumes are all designed to be unisex, how does that influence your process of designing and mixing?

Sam: I have never liked extremely feminine scents that were sweetly floral, and I really enjoyed some of the men’s colognes from the 1990’s. The spicy, sexy fragrances smell great on women and men, and intentionally make all of my fragrances unisex. I try to balance all of the notes, kind of like blending and mixing different seasonings in food. If the perfume is well balanced, it can be easily worn by both men and women.

Winter is a truly gorgeous scent that is perfect for the start of the Christmas season, but in reality it can be worn anytime of the year. The crisp, clean green fragrance notes are perfect for winter, and somehow manages to make you think of different pinecones and evergreen wreaths without reminding you of the horrible holiday scented candles. The lavender is not overly sweet, and is a perfect complement to the green pine. It is excellent long lasting cologne that is ideal for both men and women.


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