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Monthly Archives: May 2014

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  • Friday pribble-prabble. authentic luxury.

    On Monday this week, when in Rome, I was chatting to the most sympathetic journalist imaginable and we soon ended talking about many things in detail that were beyond me creating and producing fragrances. What made the difference: She was actually very, very prepared and already knew a lot about how I do things here, in tauerville. Thus, we could for instance talk about luxury, what luxury really means; for me the biggest luxury these days is time, I said. And true luxury does not define itself through price, I continued. It often defines itself through authenticity, a story that is real, a limitedness that is not artificially created.

    Time is luxury because there is little (free) time, here. And, because -whatever we do- our time is limited, at least our time walking on two legs on planet earth. Therefore, you have the cocktail for the perfect luxury: Limitedness, becoming more limited with every day that passes. Authentic luxury. Quite often, luxurious things and notions are a gift anyhow; like a gift of mother nature, giving us another day in peace before she twists a gene and sends us towards a cancer downward spiral; a gift of our neighbour's child deciding to stop crying at 3 am; a nice flacon of perfume.

    So, I had this chat with the journalist, in Rome, in the morning, and had some down time until later in the afternoon. I went up to the park around Villa Borghese: A place of peace, green joy, where I ended up painting for an hour or two, loving a detail looking into the wall of trees and bushes in bright noon light on the other side of the bench : The contrast of the red little plastic cubic space created by a net on top of a dip in the asphalt, and the green vivid hands of green in the background.

    While painting, on a luxury item actually, because this e-thing fulfills another possible criterion of luxury: something we do not really NEED, I was thinking that luxury can actually be many, many things. And that one fine day, I might want to create and offer fragrance that you can't buy, really, but only get as a luxurious gift from somebody else. That might be cool. Memo entry for happy creative Friday done.

    Today, however, is less creative: Factory work, mostly. Enjoy your day!

  • Why I am optimistic for brick and mortar

    Today, here in Switzerland, is a holiday, and all the shops are closed, and we got time to read. For instance: This interesting review of my Cologne du Maghreb, by Lucas, running the chemist in the bottle blog. And, if heading over to the chemist in the bottle: Make sure not to miss my interview there (including a cool picture that I did in the factory), and you might want to check soon again Lucas' blog, for ...well,  surprise, surprise !

    So, there we go: Shops are closed, except for the online shops of course!

    Shopping Online: Bigger and bigger.
    Here, we did not shop a lot, lately. A few its and bits. And, to be frank, what I shopped lately I did online. Although I am downtown almost daily, I got tired of stepping into shops expecting the usual scenario; sales "assistants" that are, well, not a lot of help, bad air, too many others. You get it. I am not alone: My friends shop online, too. During the day or night, when they feel like it, not when the shops feel it is time to open their runways. Here in Switzerland, shop opening times are still somewhat regulated.

    Service levels: shrinking.
    And (public) service in Switzerland often stops in the afternoon, like yesterday: Although yesterday was not a holiday, but today, the Swiss Post decided to close their doors at 4 pm instead of 6 pm. On regular days they are closed between noon and 2 pm: And yes, this is exactly the time when most working people would have time to head to the post office.

    Logistics: changing.
    Yesterday, in the news, the Swiss Post happily announced their increased investments into offering an order fulfillment service for e-commerce, while I stood before closed doors at the local post office. (On a side note: Unfortunately, the Swiss post does not transport dangerous goods, such as perfumes, any more. It is one of the biggest obstacles for me running my business here in Switzerland. And ultimately, I might have me move part of my business out of Europe/Switzerland.) So you see: I find it all very confusing, and cannot but realize a big gap between how people shop and what shops do about it. Like many service providers, the post, and shops are in for troubles with commerce going digital, more and more; the ecommerce logistics is a cold side of the business and there is zero client relation building there.

    Shops losing their core asset: relations with clients.
    Online, building relations is much harder. Like in the newspaper the other day: In front of the computer it is rather lonely, and unsensual. You can't touch the other, can't hug, can't smell the other person; what you smell is your own socks.

    You can buy perfume online: I did it, others do it. But here is the thing that I realized when in Rome. As perfume is so incredibly sensual, emotional, personal and in need of the material manifestation before your nose: Brick and mortar stores selling perfumes are in an almost unique position. If they do it right, their business will continue to thrive, independent of what other brick and mortar businesses might lose towards online.

    Looking over the rim of my coffee cup: It might well be that the more promising future for real artisanal low volume high quality independent perfumery is not online, but physical. Brick and mortar. The real thing. Because there, and midterm maybe mostly there, small enterprises and artists find their chance to proof that they are different, to build relationships with clients, to speak to clients and being heard without having to shout. Online, they might be washed away by an avalanche of money, brands, products.

    I don't know, really, but we will see. But I am optimistic for many little brick and mortar stores, here and there.

    Today's picture: scent strips on a chair, seen at the Smell Festival in Bologna

     

     

     

     

  • after the Smell Festival

    Good morning from Zurich, back from Bologna and Roma! Rome saw me talking to and sniffing with perfume lovers, celebrating the moment and a birthday of CHERRY (here's their facebook page, with nice pictures of me and Marina) , super lovely, super niche, and super located perfumery in Rome. Marina, the shop owner is just one of a kind. And shop owner sounds a touch too cold, actually. Maybe it is better to say: Marina is the shop magician, transforming a perfume shopping exercise into a trip to wonderland.

    Bologna, the day before, saw me giving a presentation, translated by Roberto Drago, with a lot of smiles and a happy crowd. OK, here's the thing: Italian perfume lovers are one of a kind. And it saw me give a workshop, as mentioned before. Today's picture shows you a snapshot in the middle of it. Busy noses smelling and busy hands mixing. The printed pages that you see on the Photo: An excel print out with information about all the raw materials that went into PHI-une rose de Kandahar, with empty fields for the attendant's remarks about the raw materials, and a column where they were supposed to write numbers, volume to be pipetted later for their own creation of une rose de Kandahar.

    Before we all smelled the raw materials: We discussed how we imagined a rose de Kandahar: Fascinating! About 10 more ideas for a perfume popped up during this short session. And then, then, the room morphed into a perfume factory.

    Everybody who participated could take home a 15 ml spray flacon, with his/her own mixed rose. Of course, I gave some hints... basically I told (in the excel) how the base and top might be mixed: But the rose heart had to be imagined. It was super fascinating to see how diverse all the perfumes turned out.

    Some were very good. Some where, as one said: Insect repellent.

    But even there is hope: As I told my perfume loving friends at the end of the workshop... your mixture needs to mature now. Who knows how much it will change....

    After this wonderful experience, I have to admit that I do not really know whether I would love to repeat this workshop. I could say a lot about the why. Maybe just this: a gut feeling. And with that I have said nothing, really. OK. What's next?

    No train ride for the next few weeks: I had my share there (5 hours delay on way to Bologna, 1.5 hours delay on way back).

    Feeling motivated to prepare now for the fragrance show Pitti Fragranze in Florence.

    And feeling ready to hit the creative mess in my perfume creation "studio" again, knowing that studio as term does not fit really. Let's say: fragrant joy capsule.

     

  • bright light of summer and another rose

    Before leaving for Italy: A long post!

    Good morning from Zurich, where the roses are blooming, and where we still enjoy the bright light of late spring, like beatles coming out of the ground, spreading the wings and taking off into the sun. Today's picture shows you the sun breaking through trees, taken at 10 am the other day, when biking over the hill. Everything is green up there, but the multitude of spring greens still pervades the uniform summer green that will set in in a few weeks time.

    Before continuing talking about roses and asking you a question: Here, a few thoughts from a guy who planted tomatoes a while ago and reads in the newspaper that about 60% of all restaurants in Zurich do not operate with a profit.

    The last few days were nice and warm and I could watch the tomato plants growing on a daily basis. I planted the plants (urban farming like) into old ethanol cans, and am looking forward to eating locally produced red fruits one fine day: Provided mother nature is nice enough. Often, she isn't and is generous with everybody else, but us. So I read a book the other day, and realized that my planting, buying locally, buying small, (... other recent trends avoiding big business, add them here <....>) is in line with a societal pattern we see these days. People loosing trust; trust in corporate conglomerates, trust in government and its  institution, trust in previous peers and leaders, trust in money, but this lost trust in (paper) money will be the end game, really. So, what do people do: we all look for values that we can trust and find them locally, in small entities, products where we know what they are, where the come from....

    Bottom line: My tomato planting is also sign for a larger shift of trustworthiness taking place. cool. we are all part of it.

    The other day in a shop here in Zurich: "Who made your <your favorite product here>?" The same line of thought makes a lot of sense in perfumery: I will keep this in mind. Because when it comes to my produce, the answer is quite simple. Who made your fragrance? Andy Tauer, from A to Z. It would be cool to also provide where all the its and bits of packaging etc. come from.

    Profitability: Like the news anchor, I am smiling over my face, but try to make serious face announcing the next topic. Profitability. Of course, it is intrinsically linked to the points mentioned above.  When it comes to perfumes, low volume, selective, niche, you name it: many, many are not profitable, really. A lot of people life from these new brands entering the market: The perfumers, the bottle producers, printers, the ladies packing the perfumes in Vietnam or France, the packaging producer, maybe the retailers, too. But often, the brand owner does not really end up with a reasonable profit. It is like with the Zurich restaurants. There are too many, and too many thinking it was easy, too many are not realizing that the job is not done when the first 6 scents are produced and out on the market, or hidden in some sort of conceptual fog. It is then when the job actually starts.

    I mention this because, recently, I got so many questions from perfume lovers and going to be perfume brand owners that it is time to repeat here: I do NOT give advice nor do I consult. The last couple of weeks it was for sure a dozen "How do I find producers and other suppliers for my fragrances, what retailers to work with?, find out about the regulatory needs, how to pack perfumes, how talk to bloggers?". These days, everybody seems to either open a noodle shop or a perfume house. Tonight, I will go out, having dinner. Locally, right over the street. A profitable restaurant, because the did not start with the goal of getting rich and famous, but just wanted to cook good food and offer a nice place to stay for a while. But I bet: It took them a couple of years.

    And now, here's  a little question, thanking you that you continued reading all the way down:  I find summer to be a difficult time for perfume. I hardly wear perfume in summer, really.

    I have been working on a rose for a while, a complimentary scent in a way, complementary to my existing roses that are somewhat on the heavy side. I wanted a light, airy, rose for summer, staying close to the skin, wearable in the heat, like a refreshing rose water, with some lasting power, but not for a whole long day. A summer rose that feels like smelling one of these very fragrant roses that you find in old gardens, hints of spices, a citrus floral happiness with a dash of soapiness in the best sense of the word, oscillating between floral delicacy  and a musky skin.

    I find summer to be a difficult time for perfume, and as I am not an expert when it comes to wearing scents:

    What do you actually wear in summer?

     

  • the first rose

    Today's picture: The first rose blooming here, in Zurich, on a sunny spot next to the house, including (hard to see as it is small, though) a plant louse. Mother nature is generous, also for plant louses, I am not. Every morning, when watering my plants outside, I do a snail check, and a louse check, especially on the tomato plants: Catching them early prevents bigger damage, as these louses multiply on a daily basis. Mature nature is generous, but a rough tutor.

    This particular rose is, however, pretty scentless. But you can't have everything. Actually, there are supernatural roses here inside the house, inside flacons. That compensates. There was a shortage, though, of rose absolute  for a while. But today, I got another batch delivered. I do not need it really, right now, but rose absolute is one of the things I want to have, all the time, ... you never know. The same is true for jasmine absolute. My fragrant workhorses, so to say.

    I mentioned it a couple of times on this blog, but it amazes me every time again: When I buy rose absolute, about 60% of what I get is actually phenylethanol. It is one of the major ingredients of the perfumes that roses exhale. Phenylethanol is cheap, like: super cheap! Therefore, buying expensive rose absolute translates into buying very expensive minor components that make a rose a natural rose.

    Work today: packing some stock. And -having finished the workshop preparations- thinking about a presentation that I will give Sunday, at the Smell Festival in Bologna.

    I can talk about me, my philosophy, processes behind the fragrances, dreams, projects. That's quite open, really. I can also spray some fragrances and have people smell while I talk. This helps. Maybe I will talk about roses. We will see...

     

     

  • Heading towards summer for the moment

    I picked today's picture, taken yesterday, while on the way up to another part of the town, because it means: heading forwards towards summer. Quite funny: We seem to go from "feels like winter" to "almost summer" within a day or two or three. That's the way it can go in the middle of Europe; Hopp! and happy you are after a whiff of air from Mediterranean air has found its way to you. And Puff!, there you go after a wave of Northern chills has hit the Alps.

    Of course, as often in my blog: Multiple meaning ahead!  I am  getting quite worried, about the clouds on the horizon. Looks like the worst is over in Europe's financial/dept/bank crisis and summer ahead? I am not so sure. The situation is similar in other parts of the world. Does it matter? Yes and no.

    Yes.

    Since 10 years (almost) I am also looking into the world as a marketplace for perfume. It helps to understand the world. And since I am doing this, I have seen currencies losing value, people losing jobs, and getting re-employed for less, if they are lucky. A good friend and me, we often come to the conclusion: We all did not feel how much less well off we actually got during the last 10 years because we think that we can still buy a lot of stuff.

    There's a lot of cheap stuff out there. China keeps us happy for the moment.

    For "niche perfumes", this is actually not true. There, in the higher end niche, perfume prices got out of control. When I am worried, sometimes, that my 130-160$ are a lot, I just have to get online to visit a perfume sites and get relieved. Higher end means, only, price. No quality difference. Even if it says oudh. Forget it. Chances are good that the fragrant stuff that went into the bottle you buy for 400 $, from brand names starting with A to Z, costs less than what went into your average designer scent in the 80-ies.

    Here's the deal: Close you eyes, forget the price tag and compare.

    I know how the prices in perfumery are calculated. Some prices are just ridiculous. But then: If you have those 400 bucks, sure spend it, but don't expect much more than an extra Svaroski here or there.

    So yes, it matters, really and the financial crisis has just highlighted the growing separation within our societies. High (price) end perfume markets are an example of the luxury market. Luxury markets have been growing the last couple of years AND A lot of money was pumped in the monetary system in the last couple of years. How does this go together? Simple: The luxury market growing faster than the economy tells you where the money goes. Money has a tendency to flow upwards these days.

    I do not know, but I am a bit on the alert lately. I feel that I see a couple of signs on the wall for change. Let's call it exuberance, coupled with robbery. >400$ for 50 ml fragrant liquid: robbery. 10000£ increase in a month: Nuts (housing market in the UK, average asking price for homes in the UK). Add more dept on already high dept to get our of depts: Risky to say the least.

    No.

    And no, it does not matter really. We cannot do much about it. Except buying put options, maybe, gold, if you happen to have money; and I am not talking about gold in perfumery, but the real stuff.

     

     

  • Here we are preparing for a workshop

    Good morning from rose centric Zurich these days. After sunny and finally! warm weekend I am looking forward into a busy week. Towards the end of the week, I will head to Bologna, for the Smell Festival, where I got the privilege of an invitation to give a workshop. This year's theme is "dreams" and I figured that we might dream about roses.

    And I figured that it might be a perfume lovers dream to actually work with roses and everything that makes an evocative rose.

    And I figured that we might want to dream about Afghanistan's rose.

    Thus, I ended up preparing a workshop where the participants are given the chance to dream of roses from Afghanistan. I made dilutions of all ingredients that are part of the fragrance PHI - une rose de Kandahar, and the participants are given the opportunity to experience for themselves how simple, how complicated, how delicate, how brutal, how frustrating, how rewarding  fragrance creation actually is. I will give some help, of course.

    Today's picture shows you part of the 100 ml aluminum bottles prepared already.

    I hope that it will be an interesting experience for all of us, and fun. Before I can travel there, however, I need some sort of text that explains what we will do during the workshop. Otherwise: Chaos.

    So there we go: Texting.

    edited: I forgot to mention... the workshop is booked out. Sorry!

  • gardenia day

    Today, today is gardenia day in the house of tauer. Sotto la luna: Gardenia, the first scent in this series of flowers under the moon, will go into bottles, if all goes well that is. In four months from now, it will go onto the shelves in shops world wide, if all goes well.

    And with the fragrance in the flacons, soon, the moment has come to really start composing text and pictures. So you see: We are all getting very excited here.

    Me, I can hardly wait anymore, I just hope that you can. Thank you for your patience.

     

     

  • Bauhaus

    When working with scents and perfumes, when reading the regulations and legislation, you sometimes feel like you need extra protecting clothes at your workspace. There is only one way in which things go in Europe (EU) there: towards tighter and denser regulation. Thus, one fine day, we might indeed wear protective garment like in the picture when working with fragrances.

    I was at "BAUHAUS" yesterday, buying banalities such as bamboo sticks for my tomato plants, and I took today's picture there. I love Bauhaus. Bauhaus is butch.  Bauhaus is large. A walk from one end to the other goes for a hike, almost. Bauhaus has a feminine side, too. You can buy protective plastic gear for the outdoor stove there. Bauhaus is the materialized potentiality, of what could be.  I love to stroll through Bauhaus, touch those big drillers, pick my favorite color in the paint department and choose planks for an imaginative factory remodelling: It is the same potentiality that makes me go through Flacon catalogues online on a weekly basis: Here's a nice one, actually. Coverpla (click here to have a quick look at their site).  Perfume Bauhaus.

    Actually, yes, please have a look. You will be amazed how many flacons from how many brands actually are standard flacons. It is like in Bauhaus: Getting your perfume built and bottled has become quite easy these days.

    On the other hand, me thinks: a non standard flacon makes all the difference.

  • right now

    "En effet, le "test de consommateurs" est parfait pour déterminer la couleur ou la structure idéales d'un produit à usage cosmétique ou d'un détergent. Mais pourquoi demander à un groupe de femmes familiarisées avec des produits lancés il y a dix ans d'aider au choix du "parfum de demain" ? " Guy Robert, in Les Sens du Parfum, ISBN- 2-7464-0187-8

    There was quote from Guy Robert's Les Sens du Parfums published yesterday on PerfumeOfLife, and it made me reach out for my worn down copy of this book, that -like Roudnitska's little booklet "Le Parfum"- always reminds me how fast perfumery is changing these days. The above quote is perfect. On  a couple of levels. One level that I find interesting: The familiarization aspect. You might call it conditioning, too. Like it or not: We are conditioned by our sensorial experiences of the past. These days, the conditioning by scents is very prominent as we live in an highly, if not even perfumed environment (from public space, shops, private space to laundry products), whereby this perfuming happens with super cheap molecules, mostly.

    Here's the challenge: Coming up with a fragrance that does not comply with these familiar aspects you are in for troubles. Troubles now come from what consumers have inhaled earlier, so to say.

    And still, we all long for new sensations. You see: Difficult. As a creator, you have the privilege to propose new sensations, expanding the event horizon, and as creator you have the burden of bridging  a gap.

    In this context: I haven't talked about my fragrant explorations lately. The gap is what is worrying me there and I do not want to nourish expectations that I cannot fulfill later. Let's say: I want to play it safe there. Maybe that's wrong. These days, I am playing and wearing an explorative perfume, not an eau, not an extrait either, more an oil actually, without the oil, a "Swiss" abstraction of an ittar, if you wish, that I created in a form that (logically) demands dabbing. I mixed it a while ago and it grows over the weeks, getting better and better. It must be the sandalwood and the iris and the rose.

    So, there you go: a lot of conditioning that needs to be addressed. Application (dabbing, not spraying), size ( like 7.5 ml, not 50 ml), scent (different compared to what I have done so far, gentle, little silage, but like a silk garment on the skin), price (I can already say this: expensive). For me, it is like a getting into a rocket and flying towards the event horizon. A little project on the side, for whenever, while I am getting my Sotto la Luna baby ready for September. It will be fun talking about this perfume oil ittar thing: There is so much that comes together there, from a creative point of view, marketing (4Ps) and cultural differences.

    I am still testing, though. Testing means: Giving yourself the option to through an idea out of the window. I guess, in the end, as a creator, you cannot stop, really. That's another challenge. And I guess I will come back to this topic, one way or the other.

    Picture: My event horizon, a sunset in Joshua Tree.

     

     

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