Friday, October 13, 2017

Packaging tips for small time perfume creators with no money

    The packaging you give your perfume is important but packaging can be expensive. It can be particularly expensive if you are producing a perfume you want to market but only dare (or can afford!) to produce a handful of bottles -- a short run... or even a very short run.

    The glorious packaging you see on display at perfume counters was expensive to develop and, in most cases, expensive to produce. It is affordable only because the global companies behind these fragrances can spread their costs over hundreds of thousands of bottles and because they know that what they spend on packaging will be returned to them through greater sales.

    If your production runs are more in the range of 500 to 1,000 bottles or even less, the cost of fancy or even just typically beautiful packaging will crush you. At most you might afford a simple, printed, custom die-cut box. Then, to be effective, the artwork -- the graphics -- for this box must be excellent; well designed, well executed, well suited for your potential market. The problem will still be that if your need is for only 500 to 1,000 or even fewer boxes, your unit cost -- your cost per individual box -- will be high, perhaps even higher than the cost of your bottle or your perfume itself.

    I know of no single alternative to get around this seeming obstacle. The first step however is to recognize that you cannot match the packaging you see on global brands. And, if you try to mimic them with your pathetically anemic budget, your results are likely to be ugly.

    Some "small timer" perfumers do solve the packaging problem effectively. Their solutions are innovative, original, and cheap. They find ways to bring touches of class to their perfumes by demonstrating their artistic sense and sensitivity goes far beyond the creation of the fragrance itself.
    While I cannot suggest what might work for you, I can suggest a method for finding effective solutions. The method has four points
    1. Know what packaging products and supplies are available to you. Knowing what products are available to you -- and there are many that you can afford -- will give you ideas. Pour through craft supply catalogs (here's a list of some!) for ideas that can help you decorate your bottles or bag them artfully with stock packaging.

    2. Know what others with little or no money are doing and have done. Search online for small perfume creators and study how they package their fragrances. Go to craft fairs. Go to trade shows. Spend time in boutiques looking at everything. Ideas can jump out at you when you least expect it.

    3. Know your limitations. Don't overstep and make a mess of your perfume. Avoid at all costs making a sloppy presentation. Avoid trying to get too fancy when you don't have the artistic skill to carry it off. If you don't have the decorator's touch, perhaps you can find a friend who does and who is willing to work with you.

    4. Read trade and other publications (here's a list), both online and in print. Trade magazines show you what the leaders in the field are doing. While you might not be able (for a long time!) to afford what they are doing, you can pick up a sense of style and even get usable inspiration.

    Overall, when you don't have money you can still win excellent sales if you have taste, creativity, and the ability to discover and use resources and materials others haven't yet exploited -- because they haven't yet seen your perfume presentation solution!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why making perfume without a formula could cost you thousands

    When I messed up a small production job -- because I was making a video at the same time I was producing it -- it drove home to me the importance of a formula and the need to adhere to it strictly when you're producing your perfume, whether the batch is small or large.
    Without a formula you can't repeat what you've done. Without a formula you can't match the original scent you created.
    Writing out a proper formula when creating a fragrance distinguishes the professional from the hobbiest. The hobbiest mixes a little this with a little that and calls it a perfume. Nice. But if it's good, that "good" perfume is limited in quantity to the original batch that was made (usually quite small!) because the hobbiest doesn't keep a record of what he or she has done. So more of the same cannot be produced.
    The professional keeps a record of every trial, every test, ever small adjustment. Maybe one out of twenty or even one out of one hundred of these records will survive and become a "go to market" perfume. For the hobbiest this record keeping seems too tedious. For the professional, record keeping is just a natural part of the work flow.
    Why should record keeping -- writing out an accurate formula of every variation of every fragrance you work on -- be such a burden? One issue that may never have occurred to you is equipment -- having enough mixing pots and whatever to dedicate a clean container for each new attempt to develop or modify a perfume. Each time you start an even slightly different variant of the perfume you're working on you need to start with a new, clean, mixing container.
    When you start work on a new fragrance you may have to equip yourself with dozens of small mixing pots.
    A second impediment for the hobbiest is an inadequate supply of the aroma materials being used. Say you are mixing a perfume and you've gotten to the point where your formula calls for twenty drops (from a dropper bottle) of a rose scent mixed with two drops of an herbal scent. If you want to try another version with three drops of the herbal, or four, or five, each time you make up a new trial you're using twenty drops of the rose scent.
    To test the effect of a small change in the herbal, you could be using quite a lot of the rose and, frustrating to the hobbiest, you already know (or think you know!) how much of the rose you need.
    So the hobbiest just adds a bit more herbal to the rose in the original measuring cup. It may make the fragrance better, it may make it worse, but now there is no way of comparing the two concepts because all has been entrusted to a single pot.
    The starting point for the hobbiest who wants to turn his or her creations into marketable products is the discipline of keeping precise notes, precise formulas of every step in the development, ever change of ingredients, however small. In a sense, the formula is the final goal for the professional perfume creator.
     A few more notes on this can be found here.
    The illustrative video of "the right way" is found here ... and the "wrong" way here.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Perfume Production Up Close (Video)

Last week I posted a video on YouTube showing the production of 900 ml of a new fragrance. The video shows both the production of the oil -- 135 ml, from a formula which is shown -- and then the mixing of the oil, water, and alcohol.

The video is posted here.

The "footnotes" to the video are posted here.

And -- for your amusement only -- a "fail" in producing the video is posted here.

Or just view it here:

Thanks for your interest.

-- Phil

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Perfume Production: weight vs volume

    I posted a second YouTube video, this one showing how I converted a "drops to grams to percents" formula to a volume (milliliters) measurement to allow me to produce my fragrance by liters or gallons (or milliliters or fluid ounces).

    The point is, it is easier to develop a formula by the weights of the aroma materials you are using. But when you want to produce a few liters or gallons, it is easier to measure your alcohol and water by volume. But what about your fragrance oil?

    By knowing the weight of a liter (or milliliter, or fluid ounce, or gallon) of your oil, you can calculate the weight you'll need to produce to fill a certain volume.

    I've discussed this on my PerfumeProjects website but the video tells all:

    Thanks for your interest.

-- Phil

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Perfume Production -- drops to grams

    When I develop a new fragrance, I work with dropper bottles. Because of this, my initial formula is written out in drops.

    To scale up the formula for production, I convert drops to grams and then convert then to percents. Once I have calculated the percentage, by weight, that each material contributes to the formula, I can scale up to any size batch I want.

    I've posted an article describing the "drops to grams to percents" conversion here, at my website.

    I've also posted a short video on YouTube showing how to set up an electronic balance to do the measuring.

    Thanks for your interest!

    -- Phil

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cleaning up a sour note

    I was almost finished with the new fragrance. I had my formula worked out, ready to go into some final testing.  But there was a problem. For one split second -- for less than a split second -- when I dipped a test blotter and smelled it, there was a momentary disconnect, a non-harmonious moment, before the fragrance settled down ("evolved") into what I intended it to be.

    This non-harmonious moment was very short. Perhaps a split second. But it was jarring to my nose and put me on notice that something wasn't right. Should I ignore it (since it smoothed out so quickly!) or should I obsess with trying to discover what was causing that little problem and, hopefully, fix it?

    If a perfumer tried to hand a perfume with this "problem" to Estee Lauder or Coty, he or she would be fired. Professional, full time perfumers know how to fix these issues before anyone calls the problem to their attention. I'm not that good. Still, I wanted very badly to fix this problem. Everything else about the fragrance had come together very nicely.

    For me, correcting this problem, which just barely needed correction, meant trying to find exactly what was causing the problem and then making a small change that would leave everything else alone.

    In this case I'm happy to say that I overcame that bad spot, that single sour note that was bothering me more than it might have bothered a person wearing this fragrance. It was an issue of balance. Too much of something (two somethings in this case) that had to be toned down to blend more perfectly with all the "something elses." While I may continue with a few small trials that will help me better understand what role each ingredient is playing in the formula, as for the "commercial" version, it's done.

    So what comes next? The answer: some mathematics. I have to decided how much I want to produce -- perhaps no more than 12 bottles -- and then how much of each ingredient I'll need for that production.

    Working backwards now, if I'm bottling just 12 bottles which each will take one ounce of fragrance (I already have bottles on hand), that's just 12 ounces of finished fragrance I'll need; the fragrance mixed with alcohol which, itself will be mixed with water.

    Twelve ounces of finished fragrance is a pretty small amount so, as a practical matter, I'll make up a somewhat larger batch of the fragrance oil. That amount will still be small. But I want to go through the step that will allow me, should I decide to do this later, to "scale up" and produce any size batch I want, and even be able to have a professional lab create that larger batch for me, from my formula. Here are the details on how I will do this.

Friday, April 7, 2017

12 to 60: A good perfume comes from the mind

    I've been writing a series of articles on making a profit and starting your own perfume business by producing just 12 bottles of perfume. I've covered bottles, pumps, labels, water, and alcohol. Next we need fragrance. Today's message is about fragrance but it is an interlude -- a message about the art of fragrance creation.

    A good perfume comes from the mind. Where else could it come from? It doesn't matter whether you are buying it ready made, commissioning it, or formulating it yourself. The starting point is in your head, your vision of what this perfume should be.

    Mental visions, visions that lead to a new perfume, can be of many varieties. You might have a name that seems important to you. Then you think of what that name means and create a fragrance that translates that name into a scent that brings that name to life.

    You might be starting with a name that you've derived from a visual image of something you've seen: fully, partially, or only in your imagination. This can make the development of your fragrance easier (or more difficult!) as now your formulating efforts are guided by and must match both the name and visual image.

    You can also add music to guide you. Can you imagine what tones might go with your perfume name and visual image? Sit down at a keyboard or pick up a guitar and play a few notes. Can you find notes, then chords, then perhaps a melody that reinforces your perfume's name and visual image?

    While you are not yet creating the perfume itself you are putting together a road map by which the perfume can be created. This road map will help determine what smells should go into your perfume and what smells should be left out.

    Let me give you some specifics. I was riding on a train, going through New Jersey swampland, and a certain scene caught my eye. The scene, which I only glimpsed in passing, suggested a name which was not at all what I would consider a good name for a perfume, but it was a name which captured my mental impression of the scene which had passed by so quickly.

    The combination of my mental-visual image and the name I had attached to it gave me the means to sketch out a new fragrance. To replicate that name and image in a perfume I knew I would need certain notes and would have to avoid others.

    I started with a handful of materials that I believed would work as the skeleton of my fragrance. I mixed them, smelled, and decided what needed more and what needs less, and what did not belong at all. When my skeleton started to come together, I begin to lay on the "flesh." Here it gets more complex. With one or two or three more aroma materials my design comes closer to my mental image. Gradually the skeleton is fleshed out.

    At this point, while my fragrance fit the visual image and name, and while, in a sense, it is complete, it had no personality. The trick is to create this "personality," this distinction that is recognizable, but unconsciously rather than screaming out at your face. The elements of the "personality" must blend with the flesh and skeleton but gently, and they must add something on their own. The trick to pulling off this personality is in finding just the right extra ingredient or ingredients and adding it or them in just the right amounts. This is the point I've arrived at for this project of mine.

    And even then, I still won't be finished.

    My next test is to see whether I really need all the ingredients I've used.

    This now is the tedious process of subtraction, eliminating one ingredient at a time to see whether its absence makes any noticeable difference and whether its absence might even clarify the theme of the fragrance. This step takes a lot of work.

    And still I will not be finished.

    Are the ingredients balanced? Is there too much of something? Too little of something else? You might not go through all your ingredients here but certainly you'll want to go through your major aroma components. Strip out everything you can strip out without destroying the flesh or the personality.
    Now back to your project.

    If all goes well, if the mental-visual image and name you started with were strong guides, you should be able to produce a perfume that harmonized with its name and image. And now, thanks to your visual image, a graphic image, and perhaps a few notes of music you wrote to go with it, not only do you have a "good" perfume, you have the start of what could be a strong promotion to sell it.