To this day, Viktoria Fisch can remember how a dock on Fire Island smelled of tar and salt water during her childhood visits there.
"Scents can take you back," she said. "Smells reach a part of your brain that helps you recall memory like no other sense."
She can remember the first perfume gift she ever recieved—"airport" perfume, from her father's travels. She can remember the first scents she concocted as a young child in Chappaqua, created inside of old Vaseline Intensive Care lotion bottles topped off with leaves and flowers. Later, she lived in Cross River and remembers visiting "Katonah Scentral," a shop that closed in the early 2000s and inspired her to open her first 'Ebba' shop in Los Angeles ten years ago.
And now that she's a single mom back home, she remembers how good it feels to be surrounded by supportive friends and family and new neighbors who are rooting for her shop's success.
"I've only been open for a week and I've been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit of the people who have stopped in," said Fisch.
On opening a gift shop amid a poor economic climate, Fisch said that every decision she had made in life that had "high risks" associated with it has ultimately paid off.
Those decisions include attending Syracuse University after graduating from Horace Greeley High School, and starting a career in advertising in New York City. And waitressing in Manhattan and taking acting classes. Then deciding to end a nine-year relationship and to drive across the country and pursue acting. When that wasn't "fruitful," as she puts it, she tried delivering food and working for a production company, all the while making her own perfumes and creams for herself.
"Then I got fired on my birthday, and I saw it as a sign to open my shop, which I did two weeks after 9/11," said Fisch, whose products have been featured in InStyle, Lucky and Vanity Fair magazines.
After having Luke, now 26 months, Fisch said she felt a tug toward home because she had found success and happiness and wanted to share it and be more grounded in family. She closed the L.A. shop but continued to manufacture her candles, perfumes and oils, now sold worldwide through her website.
She opened a store here after a frustrating house hunt—"the banks just were not lending," she said—and the proceeds from the sale of her home in L.A. in her pocket. Wanting to invest the money in herself, she found the space next to the Katonah General Store and said she knew it was "her space."
And now, it's filled with "things I love," she said.
Things like vintage glassware and plates picked up from L.A. flea markets, $5 brightly colored scarves "perfect for hostess gifts," hand-poured candles, soft fleece-y throws for under $100, a reproduction jewelry line by La Vie Parisienne, paper journals and tags and gift boxes (if she had another career to choose, it would be in textiles) and perfumes.
Fisch said she wanted to bring back the tradition of being able to create your own scent from the former Katonah perfume shop she used to frequent and offers customized fragrances. No tar or saltwater here—sample scents for the mixing include almond, fig and citrus.
And while others she knows are still "finding theirselves," she has found herself, home. "And now I can tell my son, I followed my dreams," she said.
Ebba opened at 107 Katonah Avenue and can be reached at 914.401.9333. The store is open Mon - Fri 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sat 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.