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Monthly Archives: January 2012

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  • raw materials and mixing

    Today is mixing day. And today's picture to the left shows you the aluminum bottles from the fridge that I took out yesterday, allowing the contents to come to room temperature over night. This is important to avoid condensing water inside the bottles. I store all citrus oils, all flower absolutes, and a few specialties such as rose oil, neroli in the fridge.

    I store the rest of my raw materials  in a storage room that is cool, but not cold. Part of the other material that goes into the mix you see below. The orange labels with the X mark raw materials that are dangerous for the environment if spilled in larger amounts; like natural sweet fennel oil.

    Today, I will mix another batch of Miriam for use in late spring, as we start with Tableau de Parfums in Italy in spring. It is quite a rich formula and the most expensive fragrance I have in my collection. It is 25 ingredients, 14 of which are natural, including rose oil, violet leaves absolute, sandalwood, cistus oil and extract. Actually, this natural Cistus ladaniferus essential oil might be worth another post. For those of you new here: Miriam is the first fragrance of a series, called Tableau de Parfums. It is an ongoing collaboration with filmmaker Brian Pera. These scents are portraits inspired by the shorts of Brian’s ongoing film series, Woman’s Picture. Actually, these days Brian has published a series of interesting posts on Evelyn Avenue, looking back into the past year, the collaboration and some details on the movie making part. You find all this and more here, on Evelyn Avenue.

    more

    And I will mix another batch of Incense rosé, lot number 007. For this I had to check all the papers, certificates for each ingredient, for compliance with the (internally defined) standards on EU allergens, appearance etc. The mixing itself is not such a big effort. You just want to make sure that you do not mess it all up as some of those ingredients like rose absolute (3500$/kg) or rose oil (12'000$/kg) are costly. The mix goes into a 12 liter aluminum can, and goes into the fridge, waiting there for 30 days, until it is going to be diluted with Ethanol and needs to wait another month.

    During mixing, I need to write down all the ingredient's lot numbers, too. These lot numbers are important for traceability; in a worst case scenario I can always pinpoint which lot of which raw material was used in what lot of what fragrance. I write it all down into a large excel and store it for 10 years on a save server online.

  • lonestar memories

    The other day I was in New York and talked to a few perfume lovers there. And as I learned that a lot of perfume lovers actually do not know what Lonestar means and that many lovers of my scents do not know how they are produced: There we go with a little repetition course on tauer.  Back there in NY I mentioned Lonestar Memories and that I lived in Texas once, for a while, doing a post doc in College Station, and that Lonestar Memories means bascially Texas Memories. Right now I am filtering Lonestar Memories and get it ready for a bottling party later at tauerville.

    For those who are new here or think we have a marketing, sales and bottling department: No, we don't. And yes, we bottle all our flacons ourselves. And we= me and helping hands from the W.-factor who helps from time to time.

    And yes, Lonestar Memories is the scent some call  "the cowboy" scent. Back then, a while ago, when I launched it, it came with a picture, a visual referencing, tagging the scent. You see the cowboy in the post's picture.  Initially, some perfume lovers thought it is actually me on this picture, but unfortunately, I am a bit less handsome. It is a picture I bought from an agency. Since then I get their catalog, but that's another story.

    Anyhow, I have a hat like you see it in today's post picture and I wear jeans, all the time. Thus, I guess, a part of me is there, too.  And yes, today is Lonestar bottling day, which means: Put the juice into a dispenser (10 liters), pump 50 ml each into blue pentagonal bottles, crimp them with the manual crimping tool, put the rings around the neck, camouflaging the crimping and providing support for the top cover, polish the flacons, put the lot number label on the bottom, put the Lonestar label onto the bottle shoulder, put the black colored beech wood top cover on and put the bottles into the shelves again for later boxing into pentagonal tin boxes.

    simple enough.

  • black and white filter

    Yesterday, I had a first meeting where we looked into tauerville, almost two years after changing flacons and packaging. This is not always easy, as I am emotionally  linked into my products and love them just too much. Thus, in order to successfully think about tauerville's products, I need to add a black and white filter, allowing me to see a bit clearer.  Hence today's picture. Black and white helps to see structures and forms better, sometimes.

    Two years ago we were finalizing the new tauer design and started filling juice into the new bottles. Since then we learned a few things. And the world has moved on and changed. The EURO has turned into a currency that is swooning like baroque princess laced up from head to toe. Basically this translated into less money for Andy as we could not raise prices like we should in order to compensate the weak Euro to Franc exchange rate.  Europe is heading for a recession (again) and some countries in the Euro zone are shaken very hard already. Thus, hard times ahead. And it does not look like things are going to change that fast when it comes to Europe. At some point I will need to draw consequences on the changing economic environment here.

    Those of you who follow this blog for a while know that I worry little about things, but just try to anticipate things and try to create the best environment for my creative venture: besides all the economic things, tauerville is about scents and perfumes, and the key goal will always be allowing me to create.

    Thus, we moved on ; learned a few tricks and we learned a few things that don't work they way we imagined. Like the inlay for the metal boxes; there we had to change from solution A to solution B to solution C.

    Thus, we looked into numbers, ideas, visions and worries for the next 3 years to come. It will be my job in the coming weeks to lay out the plan of what will remain and what needs a polishing and what needs to be changed completely. Let's call it evidence based adjustment. Excel , I am coming...

    I think it is already a good guess expecting 2012 to be a year of conceptual work and 2013 to be the year where we introduce the changes.  Exciting!

    Equally exciting is the latest addition I got for my raw materials collection: Labdanum absolute decolorized. I love this so much.

  • hyacinth...more of it

    Welcome to a new week! Let's see where we will be at the end of the coming days. I got another bunch of hyacinths, all pink, and smelling rather differently compared to the blue ones I got two weeks ago. They are much less metallic but rather powdery sweet, with a spicy undertone and only little green tonalities. Actually, very little green here. And their scent changes. I got them on Saturday, all buds still closed. They did not smell at all. Almost. Now they are in full bloom and the scent has changed from yesterday's gourmand like sweetness to a more stingy, a bit more belligerent variant.

    No wonder, I fooled around a bit yesterday, circling the flowers so to say, squeezing in a moment with these flowers and a few fragrant raw materials, such as phenylpropanol, lilial, phenylpropanal and roses et al. Phenylpropanal is interesting as you find it naturally in hyacinth, lilac, and cinnamon bark. It smells fresh, green, metallic, aggressive and is super potent. I think I will use about 0.1% in the diluted fragrance. Much more you do not want to put in there, I think. Well, I guess it is a question of how much of metallic green you like.

    And somewhere in between, I circled the flowers with my i-pad, sketching one little flower using the drawing app, observing its symmetry, and how it is broken, the colors, the shapes.

    Thus, yesterday was very busy, in all possible ways, and it saw us getting more air du désert marocain ready for bottling today. But I managed to do the weekly jogging including some hard core brand and numbers thinking, in preparation for this week's meetings. There, at the meetings, we will try to come up with a master plan for the next 1-2 years. I need to come up with some core decisions like how many scents more do I want. And when. And in what kind of bottles. And for what price. For whom. All very good questions. Right now, I worry about the number of scents that I have not published. I have a couple of colognes ready, two three other fragrances sit in Excel, and I simply have not decided what to do with them. If I was a painter it would be simple: Just hang the paintings up, in a gallery, or another public place and share them. Scents are different. A whole factory has to be turned on in order to share a new creation. And once it is out, there is an expectation that it will always smell the same, look the same, cost the same and be available all the time.

    And while everyone seems to be interested in new fragrances, asking for more, and more new scents, everybody seems to complain about too many fragrances appearing and too little time to follow what's new. Not easy, right?

    These, and other questions such as profitability, and volumes and work load will be on the table tomorrow.

    Ultimately, the goal is to continue building an environment that allows  being creative without having to compromise too much.

    Today's picture: Another shot taken yesterday, of the hyacinth flowers. Their waxy flowers are almost translucent in bright sunlight.

     

  • hyacinth again

    Maybe, if all goes well, I will have some time to draw another hyacinth on the pad. Let's hope for best.

    I wish you a lovely weekend.

     

    today's picture: Hyacinth, seen this morning in the living room.

  • another long weekend but in a different context

    I am back from New York since Wednesday where the shopping related credit card damage got not into substantial area. I guess I was just too busy meeting people and talking. Imagine: I did not even buy jeans... A few books on illustrations and packaging are on the shopping list and decorate the coffee table now. I am looking forward to getting inspired and learning how other illustrators work.

    One of the reasons to get to NY: I visited MIN, the niche perfumery in the middle of New York and loved it so much! Thus, you will soon see me there again, presenting Tauer flacons and juices.

    Since I am back  I am rather busy getting things done. I just finished an interview this instance and will soon head down to the factory, bottling Orange Star, the last 100 bottles of the last batch. I am still in a waiting position for the new batch. Besides Orange Star that should go into production in this month, I have other sourcing issues. Zeta is on the waiting list and I am down to 50 bottles. And no stock. Getting raw materials has become an issue again these days.

    Thus, all back to normal. Perfumery business is also very much a logistics business. A rather tough logistics business. I have to work on that over the weekend. It will be rather long and busy.

    Optimistic as I am , I am looking forward to actually mixing and getting some production done  in January and February, in order to get ready for spring 2012. NY will hopefully soon see me again. I plan to go there again in March. I guess I will buy jeans then. On another happy travel note: I just booked my Paris train ticket. But Paris is worth another post.

     

    Today's picture shows you some perspective: Metro in New York.

  • a long weekend

    Fragrant greetings from Zurich, where we are approaching mid January and where it is still grey but does not really feel like winter. Did you know: Switzerland has seen 2011 the warmest year since 150 year. And nevertheless, I am longing for warmth and light that is razor edge sharp. Thus, yep... I am on my favorite flight booking sites these days again, dreaming of far away places, and as I need to combine the desirable with the useful, looking into flights to LA for spring. Like every year around this time. I guess we all have these desires to get out of where we are. Even if -by objective standards- there where we are is wonderful.

    Thus, I am looking in to LA for March. Or so.  Independent of that, I will be traveling during the upcoming (long) weekend, and will probably not post. For that I put a some stuff onto my ipad. I have I told you that I cannot live without it anymore? This flat little thing turned into a big enabler for me, supporting me in answering mails everywhere and in basically every position, painting pictures and writing up ideas; thus I will work on files and pictures and will carry on some fragrant trials and sketches with me while traveling.

    Exploring trials means: Looking at the formula and the scent at the same time and try to make sure what is working, what notes are present, what notes are completely annihilated and what notes add to a fragrance's beauty. Or rather: What they add to a sketch. Some of the trials are pretty advanced. I worked on them for months now. Some are rather new and more a skeleton than a fragrance. Traveling comes usually with time. Time due to waiting for machines transporting human bodies, time in hotel rooms without the distractions and obligations of home and office.

    While I am writing this post, the W.-factor tries to deal with the Italian authorities or rather Italian atrocities, and insurances and police. The accident (where somebody crashed into us, on the highway, a simple and clear case, not the other way round) is still keeping us busy. Amazing.

    But to be frank: I do not really care too much about Italian bureaucracy. I am looking forward to traveling somewhere else.

     

     

     

     

  • dramacinth

    The hyacinths that I bought in the local flower shop on Saturday, a little spring teaser for grey January days, opened their flower buds. Yesterday, the scent was a bit sharper, more invasive than today. Hyacinths come actually with quite a complex, not always pleasing scents. Notes are green, silvery, sharp, balsamic, spicy, sweet, a hint of powder,  a touch brown cacao bitterness.

    However it smells: It is quite dramatic.

    Quite an amazing little thing. I put a few molecules and botanical raw materials together, yesterday, after jogging in rain, under the most grey sky imaginable. I picked cinnamic alcohol, phenylacetaldehyd-diemethylacetal, phenylpropanol, rose absolute, a lily based that I made a year ago (a fragrance in itself, consisting of 11 ingredients), ambroxan, and a few others. Just playing with scent strips.

    And actually, I wanted to continue there. But I just learned that the flacons will be delivered later today to the "factory". A few thousand again, coming from France, handmade by Waltersperger, blue ones and amber ones.  Thus, I will need to head down to tauerville. No play time today.

     

  • and the pendulum swings

    Fragrant greetings on this Friday, January 6, from Zurich. This Friday sees me writing a few commercial invoices for boxes that go into airplanes and fly over the seas and mountains over the weekend. It sees me on the phone, talking to retailers interested in my brand, and talking to suppliers who supply too slow, and this Friday sees me continuing trying to lay out a few facts and figures in Excel. And lay out the consequences: All fact based. Only cruel brutal number facts. No Andy in wonderland hopping around allowed.

    I give you one example. We did these wonderful fragrant cards, printed, with relief, and soaked in the scent of Carillon pour un ange, individually wrapped in a little transparent bag, sealed. We used them to give these during the launch of the Carillon pour un ange, a little gift for clients, so they could take the scent with them home. And many orders, especially sample sets, leaving my house do so with one of these cards, with a hand written note on the transparent bag. (Sometimes, when giving free samples with perfume orders, I write on the back of the sample hanger directly.)

    Anyhow: We put a good pile of money onto the table to get these scented cards done. We did thousands. We still have a few hundred and then they will be gone. I get a lot of mails, where perfume lovers tell me what they received and that they like this and that or did not like this and that. Not one word on these cards, though. I am not sure they were even used in the shops. And I saw on youtube once a video, one of these cool unpacking videos that I find thrilling like a crime story,  especially when they unpack my products, and I am sure the guy doing the unpacking did not even realize that the cards are scented...

    Thus, fact based and without Andy hopping in wonderland: These cards were wonderful, a great design, a perfect encapsulation of the scent, but a failure. A complete failure. Too expensive, not understood, not used, never asked for by retailers. A simple printed card, printed in 10'000 pieces, for 1/20th of the scented card's price would have done the job. Better. Because they would be understood. And appreciated.

    This is what I do these days: I comb through my universe of bottles and caps and labels and cards and all the tools that we built. Many of which have worked wonders for my venture. Analyzing where I stand. Based on this Excel I will move on.  And the pendulum will swing back and forward at the same time.

    Ah, and yes! I will start smelling my beloved apricot all natural oil in some seriousness, and maybe even do a little mix, thinking apricot, patchouli, rose. Ah... roses! In Excel, too.

  • actually it is raining

    but when I got up in the morning, I felt like sketching a foggy early morning, brisk, and under a bright moon. I did so first thing in the morning, right after the first sips of coffee and forgot to finish the coffee while doing so. This is what you call "flow", or you could call it deep immersion. I would like to do more sketches with my ipad, simple experimental drawings, exploring and training my hand. I like to immerse there.

    The same in a sense is true when it comes to perfumes. I am doing more sketches these days, with my raw material vials, exploring and training my nose. Independently of whether I can sell them or not later. Right now, I have an ambra sketch under my nose: I mixed it a few days ago. It willl go into a first experimental dilution today, later in the evening. Ambra-cocoa-patchouli and hints of cinnamon and leather. Just finest hints. I do these mostly for myself and will not share them right now. I cannot even if I wished. But I am looking into.

    The same is true for filling Cologne in sample vials and do extra "off-track" specials. I already do much too much specials. Thus, referring to a question in yesterday's comments: No, I do not fill the Cologne into sample vials, even if paid for it, as this would only distract me from my mission.  But I am looking into the Cologne du Maghreb and other scents that are either finished or in the pipeline: How can I move on there, offering them without overloading my boat.

    There is a limit of what you can do, if you do things yourself. A limit of sample vials that you fill, a limit of mails that you answer and a limit of special little extras that you can do on the side. In a sense it is a paradox: I have to distance myself in order to stay close to what I love doing-creating.

    The first meetings to address this question is scheduled and happens in 10 days.

     

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