Monday, December 9, 2019

The effort it takes to advertise a new fragrance

    Months ago I wrote about how I was working on a new fragrance. Then, months later, I told how I was almost ready to introduce it to the world. Over the summer (2019) I said I would introduce it in the fall. I didn't want to announce the name for fear that someone would grab it and use it before me, thus taking away my trademark rights to the name. Now the ad is posted and the name is out, "Rough Day," a fragrance for men.

    Why did it take so long? It can be worth taking a look at the whole procedure. It all starts with an idea, for the scent of the fragrance or for a story that inspires the fragrance. Then you've got to make the fragrance. This means developing a formula.

    "Getting it right" almost always involves many trial batches, adding a little this, deleting a little that, then balancing the ingredients you've finally selected so that the emphasis is right. Then testing some more and then finally making a production batch. Oh, by the way, to make that production batch you will probably have to order larger supplies of the aroma materials you have chosen. This involves shipping time and money. If you haven't got the money to lay out, you can't order the materials you need so you can't make your fragrance.

    Once you've gotten your materials and made your production batch, you've got to let the juice sit and blend. Give it a full month. Then you're ready to add the alcohol and water and begin bottling.

    So you bottle and label and "package" it, if you've got a box. In this case my run was too small for a box to make economic sense. Now the fragrance is ready to sell, but how?

    In my case distribution is on a website I've set up to sell my fragrances. Orders come directly to me and all the packing and shipping is done under my supervision. Due to current shipping restrictions I can only ship by USPS surface. That means no Priority or Express mail and no international orders. USPS ground is not bad time-wise but it can be a bit unpredictable.

    Now that I’m ready to advertise my "Rough Day fragrance for men" I have to write something about it; I have to photograph it; and I have to assemble the web page that will sell it. Here is where some unexpected delays arose.

    It has been nine years since I first developed the website and in that time the digital world has evolved in a wealth of screen sizes, leaving my site a bit dated. Rather than plop a new fragrance into an outdated site, I decided to bit the bullet and "upgrade" to the current web "responsive design" standards. This involved buying and learning new software. I "learned" just enough to create the new pages. They are not yet beautiful but they are functional. Now all is ready and "Rough Day" is online, taking orders

    The reason I am sharing all this with you is that I want you to appreciate that ideas, if they are to amount to anything, usually require a good deal of effort to carry them out. Think of the skills that were involved here, all of which could have been handed over to subcontractors but in this case all was done "in house." There was the conceptualization of the fragrance, the development of the formula from which the fragrance could be produced, the purchasing of aroma materials, and the production of the fragrance. And then writing words, taking photos (more than the ones I'm currently using), creating the web page, maintaining the website, carrying inventory, booking and shipping orders.

    I've been doing it for so long it's become natural but, if you are starting out, it can seem like a lot. My advice here is to take one step at a time and not become overwhelmed. Don't set unrealistic deadlines for a launch because you don't know what obstacles might delay you. But, if you do it one step at a time, you will get your fragrance made and launched and, hopefully, it will sell.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

How to make your own perfume for under $500

    These notes are about a book I wrote in 2011 and am now offering free -- as a pdf download. You don't even have to leave your email to get it.

    I have suggested that this book is "ideal for test marketing, gift giving, or just a personal project" and it can help you become a perfume entrepreneur -- without having to raise start-up money. It gives you a clear path forward.

    I wrote this book back in 2011 but reading it over again -– in 2019 –- I find it is still an excellent guide for the person who has no money and no investors but wants to be involved in selling their own perfume ... or just developing a nice gift for friends ... or have the satisfaction of having produced their own perfume in a "commercial" way.

    There are a few changes I would make if I was to revise the book today. The suggested 'fragrance to alcohol' ratio is too high. I would cut it in half. There isn't enough discussion on water in perfume but for that you can read "Water in perfume: Why? What? How much?". The "Resources" page is outdated but you can find current vendors here. The Perfume Makers Club no longer exists. I burned out after publishing the 100th issue of the Club's monthly newsletter but many of the Club's most important resources can now be found on this website. Follow the links on the main menu. And, if making perfume is of serious interest to you, the books featured below can be quite helpful. Meanwhile, you can download "How To Make Your First Perfume For Under $500" in pdf format here. It's my free gift to you.

Other books you could find helpful:

    Perfume Production Checklist
    Creating Your Own Perfume With A 1700 Percent Markup!
    Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics

You might also find these (free) articles quite helpful:

    Converting grams to milliliters
    Scaling up: From drops to liters

Best wishes for your work with perfume!

-- Phil

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sketching out a new perfume

    I use dropper bottles to sketch out a new perfume. Some say this isn't "professional". They point to articles they have read by authors (writers, not perfumers!) who have been allowed to watch top perfumers sketch out their new fragrances and they report that the perfumer calls to the technician, "bring me 0.001 grams of XYZ" or "0.0007 grams of QRV." If you were allowed to see their formulas you might see eight grams of one aroma material being used and 0.0008 grams of another. They have sketched out their formula by weight. So are dropper bottles just for hobbyist, amateurs, and school children? Take a closer look.

    If you want to develop a fragrance of your own you will not be able to call  a technician to bring you very small amounts of some material you want to use. Why? Because the precision balance needed to weight these small amounts costs terns of thousands of dollars. And then you would need some way to transport these materials from their storage containers to your weighing equipment and then to your test tube or mixing pot, all without spilling the tiniest fraction of a microgram. This work requires sophisticated, expensive laboratory equipment. Don't let these realities discourage you.

    You can create fully professional fragrances starting with a sketch you've made with drops from dropper bottles. To do this successfully  you must understand how to use dropper bottles. You must understand how to work with materials that are not liquids and thus must be transformed into liquids without changing their scent characteristics. You must learn how to add that "0.0007 grams" to your formula, even though you can't weight it. You have to understand that the way you squeeze your droppers is important and that drops are not a "standard" measurement. But even after you've mastered all these techniques and can repeat your dropper formula over and over again, you'll be stalled at this point without any way to go into commercial production unless you graduate to the next level.

    The next level is where, in a sense, you rejoin those "professionals" with their high tech laboratory equipment. To attain this level you too must acquire some laboratory equipment but, if you are practical, you'll be able to purchase everything you need for less than the cost of front tires for your pickup truck. What is happening now is that you are converting your drops, which by now have been multiplied into easy to weight quantities, into grams. From this point forward it's all just measurements and mathematics and your results, the fragrance that you create, can be just as grand as any found at your local perfume counter.

    So what are all these measurements and mathematics that can transform a simple "drops" formula into a production formula by which you can produce your fragrance by the gallon or by the drum? In fact they are all quite simple but also quite important. I have written about them and described them in detail in a book called Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics. While detailing these techniques in writing, I've been developing a new fragrance using these techniques. The "juice" was bottled a month ago. Today I added alcohol and water. I can't reveal the name until I've bottled some and put it on the market which may not happen until September (2019). If I reveal the name now, my name won't be (trademark) protected so I must wait until it goes on sale. (If you don't understand why this is the case, read Naming Your Perfume And Protecting Your Name.)

    If you have a good idea for a perfume and if you are willing to learn some basic  techniques, there is no reason why you can't produce it.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A book is like perfume -- Take your time with it

    For the last two months I've been working on a book on "fragrance mechanics" as you might call it. The book is titled "Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics". I used the development of a new fragrance of mine as an example of how a theme sketched out with just a handful of aroma drops from dropper bottles can be enlarged into a slightly larger quantity -- rechecked and perfected at this stage -- and then, through the use of a precision scale -- an electronic balance -- the "drops" formula (remember, drops come in no standard size or weight!) is converted into a "grams" formula, and then to a "percents" formula from which any amount of the fragrance can be produced without your having to count drops. Now you just pour each ingredient into your bottle or barrel.

    My fragrance formula took several months to perfect. My book took about the same amount of time or maybe just a little longer. Currently I have a bottle of the fragrance oil in front of me on my desk, aging -- which is to day "blending", each ingredient mixing more thoroughly with the others. This batch was mixed on 5/7/19. I'm giving it a month (until 6/7/19) before I'll add alcohol and water to finish the job.

    This fragrance has taken patience to develop. There were a number of trials, then the production of a slightly larger batch, then the weighing, the calculations of percentages, the calculation of the weigh per kilo (not hard but some math required) and finally the volume per kilo. And all the while I was working on this book, "Creating your own perfume from dropper bottles: Methods, mechanics, and mathematics."

    Just as developing a fragrance involves direction and persistence, so too does writing a book. You can't write a book without first being clear about what you want to write, where you want to go with it, and even then it will always require many, many "adjustments" -- just like the adjustments you make to get the scent right for a new perfume. Both book and perfume require a constant massaging of the elements until they come together in a harmony that solves the puzzle and gives you that product you set out to achieve.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

New Perfume: Followup 2

    From my notes I see that I started this not yet publicly named project on December 28, 2018 -- not so long ago. There have been seven distinct versions. The first was very close to what I wanted but I wanted to see if I could make it a little more balanced, a little more blended, so I kept working. For the last month I've been using "Version 7" daily and have declared it the winner. But, at present, I have just a small amount in a single small bottle. Here's where the production routine kicks in.

    The first decision now is "how much should I make?" This is a two-part question. First the oil must be made and then the alcohol (or alcohol and water)  added. Working backward I must decide how many bottles I want to fill. Then, from this count, I multiply the bottles I want by the capacity of each bottle to give me the amount of finished fragrance I'll need. I'll add a little extra in case of some waste in filling and in case, ultimately, I want to fill a few extra bottles.

    I don't have big commercial dreams for my new fragrance. My goal is to be ready to fill about two dozen bottles but initially I'll just fill about half a dozen of them.

    Let's do a little math. I have three bottle options for this new fragrance. The bottles are on hand. Two hold one fluid ounce (about 29 ml) and the third holds 50 ml. To be on the conservative side in my production run I'll calculate the amount of finished fragrance needed to fill thirty 50 ml bottles.

    30 x 50 ml = 1500 ml which is 1.5 liters.

    So I'll need 1.5 liters of finished fragrance. This will easily fill twenty four 50 ml bottles, allow for some spills, and still leave me enough to fill several more bottles if needed.

    The finished fragrance will be produced by mixing the "Version 7" oil with alcohol and water. To calculate how much oil I'll need I must now decide what percentage of the finished fragrance will be oil and what percentage will be alcohol and water.

    Although this is a men's fragrance that might typically have 10 percent or less oil to 90 percent or more alcohol, I'm going to 20 percent oil as I've done quite successfully with other men's fragrances.
    Twenty percent of 1500 ml is 300 ml so I'll need 300 ml of my "Version 7" oil to blend with 1200 ml of alcohol and water.

    The alcohol will be 10 percent water -- 180 proof. To make this I'll blend 120 ml of de-ionized water with 1080 ml of 200 proof (pure) (SDA 40B) alcohol. I have both the alcohol and de-ionized water on hand. Blending the alcohol and water is the simple part of this operation.

    The oil, "Version 7", will be produced from its formula. But the original formula that produced the batch I'm currently enjoying, was measured out in drops -- drops from small dropper bottles. The "drops" formula must now be converted to a "percents" formula. This article and the accompanying video explain how this is done.

    I'll get to the next step in my next blog article. If you want to be notified when it comes out (it will be soon!) join my mailing list.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


    The fragrance I'm currently working on. I nailed it on the first try -- or did I? How could I be sure? The obvious answer is, "by testing some small variations." Would I like one of them better? You don't really know until you've given it a try.

    So now I have seven variations of my theme. To each I've added alcohol (about 90%) and allowed it to sit and blend for a week or so. Now I can try each of them, first on a smelling strip and then, if that works, on my body. How the fragrance "works" on my body is the ultimate test.

    And, if none of these ring a bell with me, I'll do some more adjustments and test again.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

How do you know you've got it right? How do you know when to stop?

    The fragrance I'm currently working on. The first try was perfect. I nailed it. Too easy. It had never happened like this before. But was I ready to sign off on the formula and produce a larger batch? Not quite yet.

    Instead, I began to test variations. Changing the proportions of some ingredients; adding a bit of something I hoped would smooth out some sharpness, although it was the sharpness I liked.

    Each time I make an adjustment I'm discovering what I really liked best and that continues to be the original concept and the original formula.
    But does that mean I'll quite trying variations? Not quite yet. I want to be really sure I like the original formula or the original formula with (very small) adjustments. It is coming together, that certainty that will tell me I've done it. I'm already starting to gather up larger quantities of the ingredients I'll need so when I press the "go" button, I can get right on it.

    Meanwhile as I continue to test these small variations I'll review the name I've planned for this fragrance and the story I’ll use to promote it. I'll also be thinking about graphics to go with the story, graphics that will imprint the story and desire for the fragrance in people's minds.

    When I know I've got it I'll stop. You can't sell a fragrance you haven't finished. You have to know when it's right ... and then stop.

    Don't forget my books on perfume development and marketing. You'll find the download and Amazon links at my Perfume Projects website.