If you are an "unknown" trying to create your own perfume, you will encounter serious obstacles. You may be able to overcome them.
Perfumers -- people who create perfume -- fall into three categories. First there are those who are employed by an established fragrance creation houses. Then there are the "indie" perfumers, the independents who, through their skill, experience and persistence, have carved out an audience for the fragrances they create. Then there is "everybody else" -- all those like yourself perhaps who would like to make a successful perfume but aren't sure about the right track and, at this point in life, aren't sure you really can do it. In fact, you are facing serious obstacles.
Perfumers at major -- global -- fragrance creation houses have received training, either through their employers or through advanced academic work in chemistry or through one of the elite perfumery schools that accept only a handful of students for their multi-year, full time programs. An even smaller handful may rise within a fragrance creation house by showing such exceptional aptitude that they come to the attention of a senior perfumer who is willing to train them.
Indi perfumers for the most part develop their skills on their own, through trial and error, through long hours of experimentation, and by grasping at any educational opportunity they come across. Few people have the "nose," stamina, and business sense needed to follow this path successfully.
The problem for the everyday unknown who would like to create successful fragrances is simply lack of an opportunity to receive professional training. Their best hope might be the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course, a home study program with materials supplied, or a PerfumersWorld 5-day (and later advanced) workshop. Unfortunately, while the workshops are generally affordable, they require travel and the freedom from other responsibilities to have these five days plus travel days available.
Thus, while some training1 resources available to "anyone," time and money are obstacles not so easily overcome.
Professional perfumers at global fragrance houses will have easy access to 2,000 to 3,000 raw materials. Perfumers at smaller establishments may have access to fewer raw materials but the number would still be impressive and would cover all that was needed to create almost any contemporary scent.
But what about you? What do you have to work with? And where will you get your materials? In your quest for raw materials you will encounter four difficulties. First, if you lack professional training, you may not know the names of the materials that you want to "mess around" with and if you don't know their names, you can't shop for them. Second, you don't know where to go to purchase the materials you may want. Third, you may have trouble finding a company that will take a small order from someone who is not a regular customer. Finally, the smallest order most companies will fill will be for a kilo of each fragrance material -- and a kilo is more than you may need in a lifetime; more likely you will want to purchase just want a few grams.
The professional, working for an established fragrance house, does not have to buy his or her own materials; the house supplies them. You will have to buy every raw material you want to use and many you don't know if you want to use or not until you've played with them a bit to see if they could work for your project.
If you want to go "all natural," with the finest essential oils available, you will need a lot of money.
There are economic ways to acquire a range of raw materials. This can involve starting your project with pencil and paper, being careful about what you will need, and understanding that your sources are limited so you select materials that are available to you from a reliable source at a reasonable cost. Even so, in developing an inventory of raw materials you can expect to spend several hundred dollars; five hundred would not be unrealistic.
To devote yourself full time to perfume creation you must either be employed as a perfumer or you must be financially independent. For everyone else, creating perfume has to be spare time.
For training, unless you have time for a 5-day workshop, the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course is your best bet. It is supervised home study; you can work it as your schedule allows, and it is open ended -- it leads you deeper into perfume creation rather than leaving you "finished" at the end of the course. All required materials are supplied with the course and it will have you creating simple but "real" perfumes, even on the first day. As you progress, your creations likely will become more sophisticated, more artistic, but even your early efforts will be quite satisfying, for you, for friends, and for customers.
The raw materials issue can be addressed by shopping with one of two vendors who will supply raw materials in small quantities: PerfumersWorld (Bangkok, Thailand -- my prime source) and Perfumers Apprentice (Scotts Valley, California -- my secondary source). You can also try The Perfumers Studio (Los Angeles, California) that is associated with PerfumersWorld and may be able to provide supplies on request. While I sell the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course through my website, I do not stock or sell additional perfumery materials.
The best way to be budget conscious is to think before you act and put your thoughts for your perfume down on paper before you invest in the supplies you'll need to make your trials. Also, for your first perfumes it pays to keep it simple. Using as few as five materials you can create very satisfying fragrances. consider the simplicity of a haiku.
For you, what is a "successful" perfume?
I judge my creations by how others enjoy them. You may judge by the pleasure your own nose takes in what you've created but it's nice when others ask for one of your perfumes and even offer to pay you for it. But I've found that however good I think my "just finished" fragrance may be, I'm always a small bit dissatisfied and imagine that my next one will be better. You are likely to find this the case with the fragrances you create -- and they will keep getting better!