By no stretch of the imagination am I a master perfumer so please forgive any implied expertise in this blog, I’m just learning. That being said, I do have a clear intention for this blog – not unusual as I’m generally someone who likes to have a clear idea of where I’m going (and then Life happens, a voice whispers. I know, I know!) So, here it is:
I intend to go on a journey from zero experience to developing a line of niche perfumes that people are drawn to in an personal way, that they want to wear as close to themselves as their own skin, perfumes that people feel passionate about, that they feel is a part of what defines who they are. Journeys like this will inevitably include long stays in marketing land, necessary detours into regulation guideline territory with the eventual reformulating of formulas pit stop, as well as setting up shop online and everything in between…I’m thinking first an Etsy shop, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Typically the art of making perfume has been a very solitary one and quite shrouded in mystery, unless you follow a path of formal education quite early on, but how many of us really know what we want to do when we grow up, by say the age of 18?! Over the last year while allowing this dream to take root I trolled some useful sites like the Basenotes DIY forum, many perfume blogs like Andy Tauer’s blog, Fragrantica, Perfume Shrine and a couple Yahoo! Groups, and, while practical, they provide informal training in bits and pieces, leaving many questions unanswered like holes in the formation process and for me as a beginner I find this quite frustrating. Questions like: so, now that I’ve gone from testing formulations at 10% dilutions how do I take that and make a full fledged marketable perfume, one that adheres to IFRA guidelines? Or, how do I colour my perfumes to convey softness or brightness etc.? Or, where do I get nice looking bottles without minimum orders of 1,000? What about crimping vs. screw tops? Is it worth it to invest in a course or go it alone like the founders of Kerosene or Heeley and if so, is an online course better than one conducted in person, and just what are the current choices out there? Just to name a few.
Last year I was inches away from taking the GIP 2 week summer school in Grasse, France seeing as we’re quite close but I came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t prepared enough to begin at that level, I needed to get my feet wet a bit more on my own before investing 1,990 euro. So, I’ll enroll next year and, dialling it down to the basics, decided to start with a home study course on the Chemical Components of Essential Oils. The benefit of being self taught is that you can choose your approach and being that I am drawn to composing perfume formulae base on researching the chemical components of single notes and finding commonalities and then marrying them, this course seemed a natural starting point.
If you plan on following along, here’s what the next two years could look like:
1st 6 months
- Building your perfumer’s organ. At the moment my collection looks something like this: 69 synthetics, 49 naturals, and since I’m always tincturing something, 18 tinctures. I’ve got a list that I’m always adding to of the next raw materials that I want to get when the money is available.
- Single note explorations. This is basic training to develop the nose. We’ll be taking 3 different raw materials and sniffing them through their stages of evaporation at various intervals: 20 minutes x 3, then at 2 hours, 4 hours and 1 day
- Language of perfumery. Of course at the same time we’ll be developing our perfumery vocabulary in order to express the feelings or images these notes evoke in us.
- Making 10% dilutions
- And of course I’ll share my thoughts of the chemical components of essential oils course with you
2nd 6 months
- Building on the basics. Looking at the basic groups like Floral, Oriental, Woody, Fresh and building simple formulae of these groups.
- Continuing our single note exploration
- Blind note testing
- Simple 2-3 note accords
- taking our chemical components research further and putting it in context
- research our 10 favourite notes and find out everything we can about them: soil, weather, the people where they grow, history of the land, any and everything
- if all goes well, it will be time to sign up for the GIP summer school course
3rd 6 months
- learn about IFRA regulations
- I’ll be looking into EU funding options or funding options in general
- getting the name registered
- looking into suppliers
- taking the GIP course
4th 6 months
- building more complex accords
- playing/working with more notes and accords in a systematic way to build full scale scents
- making a full fledged formula in various strengths
- business plan
There you have it! These are my intentions for the next 2 years. I avoided the word “plan” because I didn’t want God to laugh!