Sarah McCartney came to perfumery by an unusual route. For seven years, she organised events for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, then studied for a Master’s degree in corporate strategy, going on to teach finance, research and information systems to postgraduate students at London Metropolitan University. From 1996 to 2010 she worked with Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics as their head writer. While freelancing as a writer, Sarah wrote a novel about a problem-solving perfumer and decided to try making the scents she had described in her book.
In 2012 she was discovered by perfume curator Lizzie Ostrom and told by Jo Fairley, entrepreneur, journalist and co-founder of the Perfumer Society, to drop everything and take up perfumery immediately. Her fragrances were finalists in the Fragrance Foundation awards 2015 and 2016, and in 2017 ÇaFleurBon awarded her Independent House of the Year. In 2019, Atlante, her fragrance for The House of Sarah Baker, was a finalist in the Art & Olfaction Awards.
In 2019 Sarah set up Scenthusiasm: The Slow Scent School to reach people who wanted to learn her style of artisan perfumery, but were unable to visit London. This turned out to be fortunately prescient, when travel and meetings suddenly stopped in 2020. She now leads a perfume making Patreon group, and runs regular online and hybrid classes on both perfume making and cosmetics safety regulations. She chooses to keep the company small, and to hand make her fragrances in small batches of 50 to 200 bottles. She also creates bespoke fragrances for arts events, companies and individuals, including the Deller Manet project at the Courtauld, EU funded Possibilize multi-sensory gigs for people with disabilities, the scent experience for the launch of Google’s Pixel 2, and the aroma of clean laundry for Samsung’s EcoBubble washing machine spoof fragrance ad.
Sarah is also a qualified yoga teacher and creates fragrances to set the mood for classes. She has run the scented yoga and meditation classes at the Also Festival for the last five years, and in 2022 will be curating the festival’s first Scent Tent.