Friday, December 14, 2012

Honey Lips Kiss Macaron Au Cassis -- Who Can Make Perfume?

Honey Lips Kiss Macaron Au Cassis is a perfume by Melina Ehrsam. You can read about it on Victoria's Bois de Jasmine blog. The fragrance is not commercially available (it could be a best seller if it was!) but I scored a bottle and thus I'm sniffing it while writing this.

The creation of this fragrance was a high school project. Melina was tutored by Philip Kraft, a research chemist at Givaudan, Switzerland, who, at times, composes his own perfumes. Because it was a research project -- and is not commercially available -- the formula has been posted online (in a jpg file) and you can easily find it with a Google search.

If you are interested in formulas, it is well worth studying alongside Vicky's commentary on it. While the ingredient list may make your head spin (some ingredients are common, some are exotic), Vicky explains the structure and why, for example, Melina made use of multiple musks in a fragrance that is NOT "musky."

A question came to mind in reading the responses to Vicky's blog posting. One responder after another said, "I would love to create..." and then described a desired scent BUT --

Ignoring their lack of strong desire TO create perfume, the "excuses" tended to be "I wish they had that when I was in high school" or "if only I had someone like Philip Kraft guiding me..."

But the fact is -- TODAY -- if CREATING PERFUME is something you really want to do, you CAN do it. And you CAN create, in scent, that romantic setting you have imagined. I say this having worked for a number of years now with Steve Dowthwaite and PerfumersWorld and Steve's home study Foundation Course in perfumery which can teach you how to really make the fragrances that you want.

Yes, your first creation won't be as refined as Melina's final version of Honey Lips Kiss Macaron Au Cassis, but she didn't do this overnight. I think, if you asked her, she would tell you that a lot of learning -- hours of it -- and a lot of trials -- took place before the final version ended up in a bottle.

That's what perfumery is about. Sensing, imagining, studying, and lots and lots of carefully documented, hands-on experiments.

People who really WANT to make perfume CAN make perfume. And most of them are doing it right now.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You've got to be able to sell it

OK. The phone rings. The caller got my number off the internet. (Never bothered to go to the website and read anything) "Is it true that for $25,000 you can set me up with my own profitable perfume line?"

I respond, "How are you going to sell your (notice I say YOUR!) perfume?"

"You don't do that?"

"Sorry. It's your deal, you have to sell it."

I suggest a trip to my website and a little reading. After all, if you're prepared to spend $25,000 for something you don't understand, paying a few dollars and doing some reading to gain understanding seems reasonable (to me).

But they won't. They need it all done for them -- along with a guarantee that their money will double or triple or more. And that $25,000? I can only imagine the trouble we would both be in if, at this point, they wrote me a check and I cashed it.

Publicity for perfume launches tries to make it LOOK like magic. Celebrity X woke up one morning with this great idea for a perfume, made a few calls to their agent, and the next thing you know, there was the bottle with their name on it in Macy's.

Perfume can make money. It can, in some instances, make a lot of money. But putting a perfume -- and a "perfume deal" -- together requires all that boreing planning work that goes into any successful promotion -- or perfume.

And the first question must always be, "How are we going to sell it?"

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First Comes The Idea

    I'm working on a new perfume. I have samples bottled. I'm low on one of the raw materials needed so for the moment I'm not mixing a larger batch.

    I sent samples to someone whom I thought might want to get involved with the marketing. They said "no" to my new fragrance and suggested I give them something more like ... something on the market already. I said no thanks (no way!)

    My fragrance has a concept. That concept runs from the name through the scent, through the people whom (I think) will be the market for it. IF a potential marketing partner isn't in sync with the concept, then we're not likely to hit it off trying to work together. It's as simple as that.

    Perfume isn't just a bunch of materials mixed together to smell nice.  Well, perhaps it can be that, but it can also be so much more. But you have to want to make it more. You have to be willing to put thought into what you are doing -- and then work to bring that thought into being. This requires technical skills and knowing what you are doing (or trying to do!)

    Producing a fragrance that is an imitation of a leading fragrance can be pretty simple. Sellers of fragrance oils ofter "their version" of the best sellers -- usually after these best sellers are firmly established in the market and their names recognizable in the shoppers mind.

    To make "your version" of the best seller -- either as a blatant knockoff or, more subtly, renamed and re marketed as "your" new perfume --  all you need is the "their version" fragrance oil, some 200 proof SD-40B alcohol, and a bit of of de-ionized water. Mix well, age for a few weeks, bottle it and you're done.

    This is what you do it sales and money are your primary goals. It's hard to develop, on your own, a fragrance that has greater appeal than the mass marketer's best sellers. Although artisinal perfumers may look down their noses at them ("cheap raw materials", "too much sameness") these fragrances, that you see everywhere, ARE made by very talented perfumers, most of whom, if they were turned loose to follow their own creative muses, would amaze us and humble us with their vision and technical skills.

    Perfume as ART requires THOUGHT. It's not about random mixing. Getting lucky can sometimes help. But the real deal is formulating an IDEA of the fragrance -- the smell, the story it tells, the music is might inspire, the visual images it might provoke -- and then formulating the fragrance that brings that vision to life.

    It's not easy. But it's what makes a perfume special, and worth a bit of struggle to place it in the hands of the right marketing partner who will place it in the hands of the right buyers -- buyers who can appreciate what you've done.