It’s not every day you stumble upon a small-town, independent guitar store on a Main Street in America — especially these days, with so many online music outlets. But on Saturday, that’s exactly what happened, when my family decided to take a stroll through the picturesque town of Oneonta, N.Y., about 20 miles south of Cooperstown, N.Y., and stumbled upon Mountain Jam Guitars.
With no specific agenda except to window shop, we came upon the guitar hub almost by accident. I almost missed the nondescript silver sign, that marked the entrance to a guitar player’s candy store — stringed instruments of all shapes, sizes, and models, from the Gretsch G9201 Honeydipper Metal Resonators to cream-colored Fender Strats. Psychedelic pedals and ukuleles in rainbow hues filled out the space beautifully.
John, the owner and a self-proclaimed Deadhead, encouraged me to plug into a 30-watt Orange tube amp and test out one of his favorites: the D’Angelico Premier Series Grateful Dead Limited-Edition 50th Anniversary Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar in satin walnut, featuring Seymour Duncan humbuckers and artwork inspired by the Grateful Dead’s epic record American Beauty (the album that features beloved tracks “Sugar Magnolia” and “Ripple,” among others).
The tone was so beautiful that I forgot to check my tuning before launching into one of my originals, followed by an attempt at “Uncle John’s Band,” which I’d memorized all the lyrics to, but not the music.
My kids were getting antsy to go to the gaming store for Pokemon cards and trinkets, otherwise I would have stayed longer. But I bought a couple of packs of guitar pics and strings for the road.
I hope that Deadheads, guitar players and would-be musicians frequent these stores the next time they’re ready to invest in a new instrument, amp, or pedal. While I love online outlets like Sweetwater as much as anyone else, nothing can replicate the experience of plugging in and playing, soaking in the aura of a music shop, and engaging in a shopping experience that feels personalized and reflects the passion of its owner.
The the visit to Mountain Jam Guitars (145 Main Street, Oneonta, N.Y., 13820) made my trip to Oneonta, N.Y., a memorable one, and restored my faith in the small businesses that make small-town America so charming.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.
Like music, fragrance is intrinsically linked to mood and memory. And for Washington, D.C., area mom Lola Pyne, founder of Oasis Soul Scent Co., fragrance is intrinsically linked to music.
In fact, it’s sound, as much as scent, that inspires Oasis Soul’s line of song-inspired candles and body products, which capture the moods of the tunes they’re named for: “LOVE SONG” (vanilla and rose), “CARIBBEAN QUEEN” (mango & papaya), and “CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’” (blood orange).
Photo Credit: Isis Nishae
“The same way you create a vibe with music, you can do that with scent,” Lola tells Rockmommy. “I absolutely LOVE music so that crossover of inspiration is easy for me. Sometimes I start with a name that is a nod to a song or lyric and look for fragrances to match that mood, sometimes it’s the other way around.”
We recently caught up with Lola to talk about her new venture, motherhood in 2020, and why escaping into a delicious scent can change your emotional latitude during tough times. Read our interview and visit Oasis Soul Scent now through November 30, for a 10% discount on all purchases.
Rockmommy: Hi Lola! For our readers who don’t know much about Oasis Soul, can you give us a little backstory? How did you get started?
Lola Pyne: Sure! I actually just celebrated the two-year anniversary of Oasis Soul Scent Co. at the end of September. I got the idea to start making candles after attending a work function at an event space that smelled simply amazing. I had the distinct feeling of being transported out of the busy city and into another place altogether immediately upon entering the building and encountering this lit candle. The lightbulb moment for me was that we should always have this feeling when we enter our homes, the feeling of stepping out of the world and into our own sanctuaries that we deliberately cultivate. And, that sensory experience of smell is one easy way to make a home an oasis.
That was the catalyst for me to learn candle making, which I picked up through numerous books and YouTube videos. The process of selecting, mixing, and testing various fragrances got me hooked! I went through more than 60 scents to select the initial seven that I launched the company with, three months after getting the idea for the business. Oasis Soul now boasts 28 scents offered in a range of handmade self-care products including shower aromatherapy steamers, fragrance sprays, body oil, and more.
Through the process of researching candles and candle making, I became aware of the harmful chemicals that many store-bought candles contain. For example, many wicks can contain lead or metal cores, and paraffin wax itself is a byproduct of petroleum and can release harmful toxins when burned. Therefore, it was paramount for me to select non-harmful materials for products I’m positioning as self-care. I make my candles with a natural coconut wax blend, lead-free cotton wicks, and phthalate-free fragrances.
Rockmommy: Can you tell us about how music inspires and influences you? Or, How does music play a role in the creative process of candle making?
Lola Pyne: The main angle for Oasis Soul Scent Co. is that I craft “scented goods inspired by soulful music.” When it initially came time to name the scents that I’d meticulously selected and mixed, I wanted to really convey the feelings that each fragrance was meant to evoke. That’s not any easy task in the complicated way that scent, emotion, and memory are so intrinsically tied. It’s the same way with music. So I opted for musically inspired scent names to say that this fragrance will make you feel the same way that a specific song, or genre, or artist makes you feel with their music.
I have a light airy blend of white tea and ginger that I named SMOOTH JAZZ. A rich, sweet, romantic blend of vanilla and rose is known as LOVE SONG. You get the picture. The same way you create a vibe with music, you can do that with scent. I absolutely LOVE music so that crossover of inspiration is easy for me. Sometimes I start with a name that is a nod to a song or lyric and look for fragrances to match that mood, sometimes it’s the other way around. For me it has become my art, and I love the process and products, and especially the way that the concept really resonates with my customers. The reviews let me know that they experience my products in a meaningful way that engages their senses.
Rockmommy: You have a young son. Does he participate in the family business?
Lola Pyne: Absolutely! So my son has participated in every step of the process from testing out the initial scents in my kitchen (though he’s over that part now), to attending my vending events, to now helping me carry packages to the car for our daily post office runs. As a mom, it is extremely gratifying to know that he is watching me every step of the way in building and growing a business from the ground up. I’d like to think it is an example that will stick with him of how consistent hard work pays off, and that you can really do anything you dream.
Rockmommy: This year has been incredibly difficult for everyone. How are you and your family navigating these times?
Lola Pyne: Certainly living in the midst of a global pandemic while the next chapter of the long, long struggle for freedom for African Americans is unfolding is A LOT. The emotional and spiritual toll is a heavy one, along with the added pressures of re-imaging and re-tooling schooling for our young ones in a world with COVID.
Self/soul-care is a primary tenant of Oasis Soul Scent Co. and I believe that daily rituals are integral to creating and maintaining balance. And, at a time such as this, the ability to tend to one’s soul is all the more complicated yet critical. The importance of self-care is resonating and I’ve actually experienced an increase in business as people prioritize making their spaces comfortable and calm, while they are also making conscious choices to seek out and support Black-owned businesses.
For my own wellness, I put together a prayer corner/personal altar with candles and other items to remind me to practice daily the things that sustain me. I need the reminder to work on and nourish myself for the strength and courage to mother, and to fight, and to care, and to love, and to create joy, and even to thrive. That too is a form of resistance. I created a LET IT SHINE Affirmations Candle specifically for this use which has been quite popular: 10% of the sales from this candle will go to organizations fighting for social justice.
Being able slow down, and spend more time at home with my son, who is six now, has been the blessing in all of this. Having this uninterrupted time together is something I’m sure we will always look back fondly on.
Rockmommy: What’s cooking this fall, for candles? Any new soulful scents we should know about?
Lola Pyne: This year I created my first full holiday collection with 6 candle scents that just launched this month. With so much time spent at home now, I feel that these candles with signature scents that we associate with autumn and the holiday season, will help people mark time, and celebrate as best we can, and provide the backdrop for new family memories. GROOVE (apple bourbon) is what I’m currently burning these day.
Rockmommy: What candles would you recommend for rockmommies who love the beach (like me)?
Lola Pyne: Listen, beach is one of my favorite words! I have whole collection named ESCAPE that is meant to evoke seaside/resort/bungalow vibes. (I actually love those scents in the winter when I’m trying to escape the cold in my mind.) From that collection, SUMMER BREEZE is the most popular scent. It is a lovely, beach-y blend of sea salt and jasmine that people adore in the candles as well as in the Room/Body/Linen Mist Spray. I’m telling you, spray this on your pillow at night and ocean dreams are yours. 🙂
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.