Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, also known as BPAL, is an online company selling perfume oils. BPAL is owned by Elizabeth Moriarty Barrial and Brian Constantine, and is based in Los Angeles, California, United States.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is against animal testing and tests its own products only on willing humans. Their perfume oils are blended by hand, using natural ingredients such as essential oils and absolutes with some synthetics. With the exception of those containing honey and beeswax, the oils are vegan-friendly.
Influences and Inspirations
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab maintains a gothic aesthetic of its website, framing product descriptions with snippets of poetry and category art (monochrome drawings or etchings) by Aubrey Beardsley, Beresford Egan, Felicien Rops, Harry Clarke, Albrecht Dürer, John Tenniel, Andreas Vesalius, Jennifer Williamson, Julie Dillon, Sarah Coleman, Alicia Dabney, Madame Talbot and others.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has also worked with and licensed the rights to create products based on popular and cult favorites such as Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, Paranorman, The Last Unicorn, Hellboy, Witchblade, and numerous other lines inspired by classic literature and comics.
While the initial impression may be one of catering to the pagan and gothic communities, the blends are inspired by works of art, mythology, folk superstitions, voodoo, classical literature, historical figures, pirates, carnivals, etc. Themes include aromatherapy, locations both real and fictional, devilish garden plantings, and deities and concepts from a variety of pantheons.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab practices compassionate consumerism, with a goal to give back to the community as possible through charitable contributions, volunteer work, and by supporting fair trade and self-sustaining growers whenever possible. They have participated in fundraisers for many organizations, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Hero Initiative, the Orangutan Foundation UK, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Covenant House, the Red Cross, UNICEF, the SPCA, and the Humane Society.
In 2007 Black Phoenix announced and released a series of perfumes based on the works of Neil Gaiman inspired by, among others, the novels American Gods, Stardust, The Graveyard Book, Coraline and Anansi Boys. All profits from the Neil Gaiman-inspired scents go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Black Phoenix also released a collection of perfumes based on Good Omens (co-authored by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) and sales went to benefit the CBLDF and the Orangutan Foundation UK. By the end of the first week of July 2007, Neil Gaiman announced on his blog that they had raised $1,500 for the Orangutan Foundation UK and the year-to-date fundraising for the CBLDF had raised over $15,000.
Scents are unique to Black Phoenix and are created and hand blended in-house by Elizabeth Barrial or Brian Constantine who have over fifteen years of experience in the field, and specialize in integrating mythology, archetypes, folklore, poetry, and visual artwork with scent. [Highly Biased - Sounds like advertising]
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab currently produces and sells perfume oils in two sizes: 1/32 oz sample vials called Imp's Ears (or "Imps"), and 5-mL glass bottles. In 2006, it discontinued production and sale of oil available in 10-mL bottles. 2004, it began transitioning from cobalt bottles to amber ones for its 5-mL bottles.
BPAL also has "lunacy" releases, which coincide with the full moon. These releases are different each month, following themes established by various mythological and lunar calendars. Additionally, while BPAL does most of their sales online, they host a Will Call event each month that allows people to purchase oils, meet up to test and sniff much of the catalog and interact with the staff and owners. Additionally, they often make additional scents available for giveaway as part of food drives or other charitable events.
BPAL has two additional sites to focus more specifically on certain customer needs: Twilight Alchemy Lab offers oils for spiritual purposes, and Black Phoenix Trading Post, sells officially licensed BPAL-related garments, jewelry, statues, soaps and other bath and beauty products, as well as occasionally offering limited edition and special release oils.
In addition to their retail products, BPAL has also created unique scents for companies in the creative field to use as event gifts, such as the bottles of Nocturnus given by Thrillbent Comics at their San Diego ComicCon event in 2012.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has a fairly sizable following through the Internet, including a fan-run internet forum with over 16,000 members and several fan-run LiveJournal communities, some with over 1,000 members. Customers cite the appeal of the seductive product descriptions, the wide variety of scents, and the tendency of certain oils to vary in scent based on the wearer's unique body chemistry.
The large number of scents produced, with upwards of 1300 blends released since the company's inception, has lent the product a 'collectibility' aspect. Several online communities have sprung up around buying, selling, and swapping BPAL products. Coveted products (such as unavailable limited edition, discontinued products, and unreleased prototypes) can sell for high amounts on eBay (where one 5mL bottle sold for over $800 in early 2007).
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- "Wren's Nest Notes (discussion)".
- Immediato, Linda (2007-02-14), "Dark Shadows: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's Uncommon Scents", LA Weekly
- Moscara, Mikki (June 2006), "Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab", Gothic Beauty 20: 18
- Young, Bob (2007-04-10), "Hocus Pocus for Focus", Arizona Republic
- "Bilge Monkey's "Black Phoenix Alchemy" Review". 2007-02-23.
- "Smell the Neil Gaiman Collection" (Press release). Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. 2007-02-01.
- Gaiman, Neil (2007-02-24), Smelling For Good
- Gaiman, Neil (2007-07-07), Blueberry Girls
- Rajotte, Mary (2006-10-31). "Be Still My Darkened Heart!".[dead link]
- "BPAL Madness! The Unofficial Fan Forum".
- "Livejournal communities listing "black phoenix alchemy lab" as an interest".
- "Livejournal communities listing "bpal" as an interest".
- Dobush, Grace (2006-11-16), "Underground perfume fans have no common scents", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- Weatherstone, Lunaea (2006), "Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab", Sage Woman Magazine
- "eBay: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: DED MOROZ 2006 - 5 ml". 2007-03-05.[dead link]
- Gandin, Jennifer (2005), "Best of New York 2005: Best Scent Indulgence for Your Inner Goth", The Village Voice
- Mantchev, Lisa (2007), "Six Scents", Weird Tales Magazine