Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A new perfume, ready to ...

I have just finished working on a new men's fragrance. It will be on sale at my PGLightyears website around the end of October (2011). I haven't finalized the name yet (although I've preached that this should be your first step when developing a new fragrance) but to give you an idea of what the scent "theme" is, I can reveal that the working title was "Herman" -- "Her Man," get it? It was intended for her approval, for something she could buy for her man, unlike my Toxic and Blackberry fragrances which were intended for the man himself, forget what the woman might think.

When I work on a new fragrance I don't call it "finished" until I personally like what I've done. This is NOT the way to get rich making perfume, yes, I know it. To really make money you have to develop products that lots of people will like and buy. That's being practical. But there are already plenty of perfumers producing fragrances for the millions. My feeling is that if I had to make fragrances that others would like but didn't interest me, I'd rather not be doing it at all.

But the surprise with this new men's fragrance -- which I'll call "Herman #1" as it may be the first of a "Her Man" series -- is that I do like it and I've liked it well enough to use up the whole (small) trial supply I made and I had to go back and make more. Yet it's about as opposite to Toxic as you could get. It doesn't give you a wake up call in the morning. It certainly doesn't make you feel like a grand macho stud. It gives you ... a pleasant feeling, a feeling that you can blend in with others rather than standing out. So Herman #1 is for those days when you want to "fit" ... when you want to be "accepted" by those around you who, incidentally, probably won't notice that you are wearing a fragrancel which, for a man, is generally good.

But now for the serious stuff. I mentioned that I have just finished "working on" this new men's fragrance. The "work" that is finished is only the formula. Now I have to produce the formula and that calls for a number of steps. If I was a big company, at this point my only role would be to coordinate with those who would be doing the rest of the work. But, since I am not big a big company, I'll be doing most of the work myself. It goes like this.

First, I have to translate my trial formula into a production formula. In this case it involves translating drops of aroma materials into weights. If I used 50 drops of something I now need to know what 50 drops weigh. And for greater accuracy when weighing, I'll multiply the number of drops of each material by, say, twenty.

Now I'll make up this larger trial batch but this time I'll do it on a scale (reading in accuracy to 0.00 grams) and record the weight of each material in grams. For example, 50 drops of mimosa absolute 10% in DPG weighs out to 1.72 grams and so on down though each aroma material in the formula. Then when I've weighed out each material, I'll translate those weights into PERCENTAGES so that now, say, the mimosa may come out to be 3.2% of the total formula. (Note: there is no mimosa in Herman #1.)

Once I have my percentages worked out, I can put the new formula into production. Here I work backwards. How much finished fragrances do I want to produce? Maybe a gallon? If I could fill my bottles without spilling a drop (which I can't!) this would give me enough finished fragrance to fill 75 50ml bottles. Not much by industrial standards but, as noted, I'm a small company.

But this gallon of fragrance will consist of three elements: alcohol, water and the fragrance oil from my new formula. So to produce my fragrance oil I now must determine how much of that gallon will be oil. Most of my men's fragrances use 20% oil to 80% alcohol and water. But perhaps this time I'll use a ratio closer to what a big company might use but still a bit generous on the oil. Give it 10% oil for Herman #1, at least for the example here.

So if 10 percent of my gallon will be oil, I'll need to make up 1/10th gallon of oil. This works out to about 378 ml. So, to be practical, I'll plan to produce 500ml of my new juice -- that's half a liter.

Notice now that we've shifted from weights to volume. So the next question is, "How many grams (or kilos) of the Herman #1 juice will be required to make 500ml of the finished fragrance?

Now here's a little trick. If you are doing your weighing out in a lab beaker (or measuring cup from the supermarket), when you're finished you will see exactly how much oil your weighted out formula produced. So, for example, if the weight of all the aroma materials you combined came to 329.68 grams, and the beaker or measuring up you were using showed that this came to 12 fluid ounces, this would mean that one fluid ounce of Herman #1 would weigh 27.473 grams (329.68 grams / 12 = 27.473 grams).

Since we need 500ml (0.5 liters) of oil, using conversion tables we find that this equals 16.912 fluid ounces. The rest is simple. We need 16.912 fluid ounces so at 27.473 grams per ounce our weight will be 464.62 grams (16.912 x 27.473 = 464.62).

So I now look at my formula for Herman #1 and work out the weight needed of each aroma material to produce my 464.62 grams of oil. For example (and this is NOT part of the Herman #1 formula), if the formula called for 6.2% of Iso E Super, I would need 28.81 grams of it.

Once I've worked out the weights needed of each aroma material, I can order the required quantities and, when then arrive, mix my production batch of oil -- on a scale, weighting each materials into a clean, new, 500ml bottle.

And that's enough work for today.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do you feel passionate about your work in progress?

Over the last six months (they flew by very quickly!) I hit a snag with a perfume I've been working on. I had reached the point where a few people were telling me that they like it (mildly) -- but I didn't. It wasn't right in my mind, not smooth, not beautiful, not artful, not something I wanted to bottle and sell with my name on it. I had hit a wall. I couldn't see what direction to go in to pull out this project and make this fragrance something that would please me -- something I could offer with pride. My ardor cooled. My passion subsided. I put the project aside.

Now, six months later, I'm ready to go back at it -- with a passion. Why? Because the other day I smelt a fragrance that jarred me into action. Not that I wanted to imitate this other fragrance. I didn't. But it had a note in it -- a very, very common note -- that seemed to say to me, "Use me and your problem with be solved." So my first step, the one that ignited my passion again, was to visualize this new concept -- to mentally put together certain aroma materials -- that will give me this fragrance I really want.

Of course this new mental visualization is only the first step. There will be lots of balancing, lots of adjustments, to get the proportions right. And I may have to change other materials that were part of my original formula. But now it will come together. I know it with certainty.

This is a men's fragrance I'm working on. But, unlike my other two men's fragrances, this one is intended to be more mainstream, more conventional, more acceptable to women -- without being boring. Women tolerate Blackberry (some women use it themselves, so I am told) but I have yet to find a woman who had a kind word for Toxic -- which, to me, is a modern masterpiece I'm happy to wear any day I'm NOT going to a social event or to a meeting with women. They just don't understand.

We can all put out fragrances that are bland and and acceptable and don't rattle anyone's cage. But these aren't fragrances we work at with passion. When we feel a passion our work we swing for the fences. We strive for the home run. We go at it all or nothing. We don't stop until we've convinced ourselves that we've produced a masterpiece. What others think simply doesn't register.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Notebook -- Perfume Formula Revealed

I've been posting some information on Tumblr about a perfume I'm working on featuring Patchwood. The notes you see in the photo are actual trials I've made ... and the outcome is circled in red. You might find these posts (there are several of them) interesting. They give some insight into how I work at developing a perfume and how it evolves from idea to small samples to formula for larger production. Here --