Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Perfume marketing opportunity: Offer what others refuse to create

Two days ago I began to explore possibilities for a new perfume. Although I could be spending more time promoting fragrances I've already created, since the summer I've been sidetracked by a project having little to do with perfume. But suddenly this week perfume was again very much on my mind. I'll tell you why.

Recently I received some unexpected compliments on a perfume I had created some time ago and then largely ignored. Positive feedback provides inspiration and I was inspired to do some new smelling. I now had a rough idea of what I wanted but I had to do some mixing and sniffing to see if my vague idea might come alive. My first try was a strike out but my second offered possibilities so I'm letting it sit for a few days to see how it evolves and whether, with some work, it might become something. As I was working and sniffing a thought came to me which I would like to share.

There is a whole world out there of glorious smells, of potential perfumes, that you will never find at any perfume counter. This near infinite world of possibilities offers you unlimited opportunities to latch onto one of these totally unclaimed smells and make it your own. Let me explain this.

There are currently available not just hundreds but thousands of odorants sold for use in perfumery. Some don't smell like much; some might even be said to stink... until they are blended with other odorants. Then magic occurs and you have a beautiful scent. Professional perfumers understand what scents can be produced by blending two or more materials. They don't have to experiment. They know from their training. The work they do produces very subtle scents such as those found in bottles at perfume counters. But there are hundreds of aroma materials out there that smell good, all by themselves, without any blending. This is the key to possibilities for you.

Explore the raw materials of perfumery: the naturals, the synthetics, the specialty bases. Single out materials that smell good by themselves. Then play with them, mixing them with other nice smelling or not so nice smelling odorants. This is not going to give you a finished perfume but it can get you started on a scent theme that will be quite different than anything currently found at perfume counters. Remember, what you find in stores, on perfume counters, is but a tiny sampling of possibilities. In fact, each of these professionally created fragrances has been assembled with multiple raw materials and simply by changing the balance of these materials a new perfume is created.

For the most part, the professionally composed fragrances you find in the market were created in response to and in competition with existing professionally created fragrances already on the market. For the most part the investors in perfume will try to find spots in the market not too far different in scent than existing fragrances, especially the successful ones.

When creating a fragrance of your own, you have two paths. You can try to imitate what has already been done, particularly that which has already been done successfully, or you can follow your own nose to beauty without reference to others.

For the less skilled and I include myself, this second path is rewarding creatively and it can be more rewarding in profit for you are now selling an original story. You are selling something that you created, that you believe in, and that you want to share with others.

Think about it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Do you wear perfume to the beach?

Smells surround us. We live in a world of smells. We are exposed to the strongest smells in the kitchen -- and in taking out the garbage. But can we ever walk down the street without experiencing a cornucopia of smells? The smell of a big truck; the smell of a motorbike, the smell of perfume, the smell of a dog -- and all the various random smells we can or cannot identify. Do you wear perfume to the beach?

Think about beach smells. The smells on a lonely, ocean-washed beach are quite different than the smells of a beach crowded with vacationers. The smells of a virgin lake are quite different than the smells of the ocean -- and far different than the smells of a lake favored by powerboats or freighters. Would these differences inspire you to wear different perfumes?

Do you think about environment when you select a perfume?

Think about a near-deserted beach along an ocean and its smells. Here would you wear a perfume that harmonizes with the ocean smells or would you deliberately or not wear a perfume that stands out boldly from the environment? The same question could be asked when planning for a social evening with fine dining and dancing. Do you select a perfume that harmonizes with the scent of the food you will be eating or one that rises above the meal and the crowd and identifies you out of all the happy mass gathered?

Perfumers of course have these thoughts. It's a little like selecting the right wine for the right course but far more delicate and important. The perfumer knows that most will not be paying attention to their environments but still feels an obligation to guide them so that their decisions are not too outré. Fragrances for the masses are engineered to go anywhere.

Thinking about the daily smells you smell, recognizing the odd, unexpected smell helps you think about perfume compositions. Building a new fragrance? How do you want it to fit into a man or woman's life? Will it be for special, controlled occasions or will it be for "all round" use? Think about how much recognition your audience has of the smells that surround them. How aware are they? What new smell -- in the form of your fragrance -- could make their lives more joyous? A tiny whiff of fragrance can have a very large influence on our happi9ness... and even our well being.

Friday, June 24, 2022

There's a formula behind every perfume you'll ever make. Too bad if you didn't record it.

How do YOU go about making a new perfume? Do you sketch out a plan, do you imagine a theme, or do you just plunge into it, mixing materials that seem to go together nicely? Do you find yourself creating many perfumes in small batches but never making the same perfume twice, even when everyone is asking you for it? To make more you need the formula.

There is a formula for every perfume you've ever made, even if you didn't record it. Perhaps the word "formula" is scary. Perhaps there's a fear that writing a few notes won't qualify as a formula and won't really be enough to bring the favorites you've made back to life again. But all it takes to bring a perfume of yours back to life in a new batch is incredibly simple, if you took a few important notes.

For example, say you created your fragrance using materials A, B, C, D, and E. Counting our drops, your initial formula might look something like this:

Then, if we were to assume that all the drops were of the same size (volume), we could go a step farther and produce a formula by percentages. It would look like this:

Now, to make more, you just mix the percentages. For example, to make 500 ml of your perfume oil:

When using your formula to produce more of your fragrance, you can use any unit of liquid measurement you want: milliliters, fluid ounces, liters, or even gallons. It's up to you.

If you have just made the original batch of your fragrance, nothing more need be done. But if some time has gone by, there is an issue you will have to deal with, being able to get more of the materials you used in your original batch. This brings up a second issue: keeping a record of the materials you used in your original fragrance.

If you are serious about your creative work in perfumery you will keep a very precise record of those materials including where you got them and even stock numbers. I've written a bit more about this in my book How to create an international production formula for your homemade perfume that will help you develop even more accurate formulas. The more accurate your formula is, the closer your new batch will be to your original. But it's never more complicated than just taking a few simple notes. You just want to be sure you're taking the right notes!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The detail you can't leave out when you're writing your formula

Anyone who makes perfume, even the most skilled and successful professional, has those times when he or she wants to experiment, just like a pure hobbyist. It generally starts with an idea. Then some aroma materials are chosen and the mixing and experimenting begins. Sometimes nothing comes of it but sometimes the result is pure magic. Can the magic be repeated? Can what has been done be done again? It all comes down to the formula.

Having the formula should allow you to produce more of that "bingo" fragrance you just created. For the professional it would rarely be a problem. But what about you? To produce more of the same, not only do you need the formula, you need the exact same aroma materials you used in your original batch. Can you get them? This is where the hobby perfumer so often gets stuck.

The issues:

To get more of the same materials you have to know exactly what they were; then you have to be able to obtain more. The first issue is the precise identity of what you used. Did you keep a full and complete record including vendor and vendor's stock number? Bergamot essential oil? Pure Bergamot or a Bergamot blend (the label should show). And whose Bergamot did you use? It makes a difference.

Can your source supply more of exactly what you used the first time? Does your source still sell it or have they switched to a substitute? Have they simply dropped it from their line leaving you to search for a substitute from another vendor?

Then there's the scenario where you were really careless in recording your materials and find something which seems to carry the same name but when you open the bottle and sniff, it turns out to be nothing like what you expected. (I have had this experience and it's a real wake-up call to keep better records.)

If you can't obtain more of something that went into your fragrance, that's the end of it. Finished. There will never be more. You can hope to come up with sometime inspired by the memory of that magical fragrance but it will never be the same.

Consider your sources before you buy your materials. Seek out vendors who are likely to offer continuity, vendors who understand the needs of serious perfume makers. And remember, if you are experimenting, developing a new perfume, you may run out of one or more materials you are using before you get it right. I have. If, at that point, you can't get more, your whole project is in the toilet.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Unexpected problem developing formula led to new book

 The last six weeks have been busy, busy, busy. While working on the revised version of Rough Day, I ran into a situation that I wanted to write about. It dealt with the high cost of a particular ingredient that happened to make up a large percentage of the formula. The new Rough Day did get finished. I've been using it and my wife approves. I just now produced labels and bottled more of it. In spite of the cost of the "juice," I've decided to use 2-ounce bottles with spray pumps. I have the bottles and pumps on hand.  
You might wonder why, when I was so excited about this "new, improved, (and more expensive)" version of Rough Day I've taken so long to get back to it. A little glitch in developing the master formula, which I started to write about in a blog, has become an important chapter (Chapter 5: Sometimes complications arise and drops become a problem) in a book I stopped to write, design and photograph. The book was published last week and is now available on Amazon so I am free to get back to keeping in touch with followers.
The issue that caused me to stop everything and write a short book or "guide" involves measurements for developing a master formula. The formula for the new Rough Day, Rough Day 2022, like all my other formulas, was first developed with drops from dropper bottles. From this "drops" formula, using an electronic balance I could develop a formula in percentages of weight, which would allow me to scale up my formula to any weight required. This is a lot more practical than counting out thousands of drops.
In my original "drops" formula, some materials were used in a single drop. A single drop was too light for me to weigh accurately so I would multiply the drops of all the materials by twenty. Now I could accurately weight the drops for each material an then calculate the percentage of the formula represented by that weight. (Together the percentages of the weights of all the materials would total 100.)
Ordinarily all this is simple. I weigh the drops, I calculate the percentages and I have my formula and, with that formula, I can make any amount of my perfume oil I want. And, because the formula is in percentages, the units I'm using can be any weight measurement: grams, ounces, kilos, pounds. With a few steps more I can convert my formula by weight to a formula by volume: milliliters, fluid ounces, liters, or gallons. All very straight forward.
With the new Rough Day a situation arose. Two materials were used in very small quantities and one material was used in a large quantity (many, many drops.) To weigh the drops accurately I would have had to multiply the smallest by a minimum of 20, which would have given me enough to weigh accurately. That would not have been a problem. But what about the one material that called for a lot of drops? I would have been counting out well over 1000 drops.
Maybe I could have done it but what if I lost count which, for me, would be pretty easy to do. Then I would have to start EVERYTHING all over again. Worse still, the material with the largest number of drops was the most expensive. In fact, it cost more per gram than almost any material I have ever used. I couldn't see risking a screw-up with this expensive material.
So I used another method to develop my formula for the new Rough Day. It is not one I would recommend unless you have a good nose but I trusted my nose and used this alternative to make a small batch. My nose told me I was slightly off from what I wanted so I adjusted the result AND adjusted my formula to reflect what I had done. All worked out fine. By now you've probably guessed that I was working with volumes rather than weights. None of my expensive material was wasted.
When you write a formula for your perfume in either percentages of weight or in percentages of volume, your nose becomes very important. Your nose is the tool by which you decide when your formula has nailed it or whether adjustments are still required.
If what I've just written leaves you with any confusion, just write me a comment below and I'll try to clarity. Meanwhile, thank you for reading this!
-- Phil

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

If the scent is good, bottle it!

But you can't bottle your fragrance if you don't have bottles on hand!

Being able to purchase the bottles you want, in the quantity you want, at the price you want is an ongoing issue for anyone involved in creating perfume on a modest scale. As a minimum you need two kinds of bottles, ones for the distribution of your fragrances (perfume bottles) and ones for the production of your scents (utility bottles). If you make fragrances for both women and for men you might want to give them different bottles. This means you'll need three different types of bottles and you'll want to keep at least a small supply of each of them on hand.

About a month ago as I was finishing up my revised version of Rough Day I stopped to review the inventory I had on hand. I wanted to check my supply of 16 ounce and 32 ounce amber Boston rounds that I use when producing fragrances. I was shocked, yes shocked to discover the vendor I had used for years was out of stock of both sizes and could not say when more would be available.

When I publish books on perfume development I highlight materials and services I've used but rather than list them on an appendix page, I direct readers to the "Vendors" pages of my Perfume Projects website. Why? Because the books, once printed, can't be changed, but they continue to be sold, traded, and used as a resource long after some of these vendors have gone out of business or have stopped supplying the product or service that would have gotten them a listing. On a web page, in a minute or two, I can add or delete vendors as their circumstances change. In the case of amber Boston round bottles I have added several new vendors that, at this time, appear to be well stocked.

When I checked my bottle supply I found I did have on hand those utility bottles I needed so I haven't yet tried one of the new vendors. And I have received an email from the vendor I used for many years reporting that some new bottles are on their way. As to perfume bottles for both men's and women's fragrances, I have large stocks on hand of the styles I use most frequently. Once I have used a particular bottle for a particular fragrance I want continuity for that bottle design. All of this is a warning.

Once you have developed a fragrance that pleases you, you want to show it around and see what others think. This means you need to have bottles on hand, perhaps just a dozen; perhaps more. The bottles you use when you are first sharing your fragrance don't have to be the same bottles you might use if you were going ahead with your project and producing 1,000 or even 10,000 bottles. I like to keep on hand at least a few dozen simple bottles with screw on sprays for womens fragrances and a similar quantity of sprinkler neck bottles (no spray) for mens fragrances. This way, when I have a fragrance I want to test on a friends and others, I have the bottles on hand. I don't have to worry about whether a vendor will have them in stock at the time I need them and I don't have to worry about shipping times and shipping delays.

When a scent is good, I want to bottles it... now!

Monday, February 7, 2022

By Camel or FedEx, aromatics still travel globally

Last Christmas I was involved in some Bible studies that touched on the birth of Jesus and the story of the three kings, or "magi", from the East bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. I had a bit of frankincense from Somalia on hand and about two drops of myrrh. When I smelled the myrrh it stuck me that this indeed was the missing ingredient for a perfume I was trying to reformulate. Myrrh became a major ingredient in this fragrance, the new version of Rough Day. Myrrh became the heart.

Two notes about the Bible story. One, myrrh was, at the time of Jesus' birth, rare and expensive. Two, the kings or magi seem to have arrived on the scene several years after Jesus' birth. These points have been ringing bells with me.

First, myrrh is still quite expensive, about $3,000 per kilo of myrrh essential oil from my source. And travel time? Here's what happened when I placed an order of myrrh from the orient.

First I want to note that it was shipped FedEx and not by camel. But the routing made me wonder what route the kings had taken to find Jesus and whether they may have wandered around the Middle East and even parts of Africa before arriving in Bethlehem of Judea.

My shipment of myrrh was delivered to FedEx in Bangkok but it didn't go directly from Bangkok to the U.S. FedEx hub in Memphis. From Bangkok it traveled north in Thailand to the Samutprakarn FedEx World Service Center where it seems to have spent three days before being passed on to the FedEx Asia Pacific hub in Guangzhou, China, where it spent a day before being passed on the FedEx hub in Anchorage, Alaska. Then, by 5 AM the next morning it had bounced backward to the FedEx North Pacific hub at Sennan-shi, Japan. By that evening it was back in Alaska but quickly sent on to Memphis, Tennessee and from there immediately sent to Newburgh, New York and put out for delivery to me in Walden that same morning having traveled through four countries in ten days.

The adventures of the myrrh was a reminder that the fragrance and spice business has always been global. Before the days of sailing ships rare spices and aromatics traveled from Asia by camel. As a young man the Prophet Mohammed got his start in the trade. Later European nations developed nautical trade routes to Asia to bring back spices and aromatics. Today it's FedEx and DHL but the geography remains global. Today the fragrance industry conducts research explorations for new aroma materials all over the world in addition to developing new fragrance molecules in the laboratory.

When I get my new fragrance together I'll make announcements for it via my PGLightyears website which, potentially, will be seen by people all over the world. After all these centuries perfume remains a global business.