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Monthly Archives: June 2014

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  • not made for human beings

    After the usual Sunday jog and the obligatory near death coma afterwards, I read- as always, the Spiegel on the ipad last Sunday,  and an interview with computer pioneer Jaron Lanier about the internet capitalism and the imminent dangers there.

    Worth reading, in German, though.

    In a subtle way it was water on my mill: Social media are not made for human beings.

    Later in the evening, in the house of Tauer, we watched a talk show, sound on, in the small screen and the soccer match, without sound, on the rest of the screen. I watched the talk show about politics, but honestly: I was sort of lost there. I have a hard time listening to people talking about politics and seeing men following a white little round thing in the background, at the same time. Yes, I admit: No soccer fan here....(me). And, typical man: Not much of multitasking when it comes to TV.

    While getting lost in confusion between men running and politicians talking, Whatsapp beeped on the phone. Picking up the phone, I realized that I got 8 new friends requests on facebook. Rosita from Belarus. About 110% of all FREE SAMPLES please! come from Belarus these days (no offense to any Belarus inhabitant and perfume lovers). Thus, the Shakespeare question: Accept friendship or not?I mean: Do I know Rosita? And where is Belarus? There is no war going on in Belarus, hence we are excused not knowing details, right? Shame on me.....Actually, I think I know where Belarus is, and I was told it is a nice country. Thus, yes, Rosita, friendship accepted.

    One minute later, How are you? From Rosita. OK.

    Scrolling down, I come to a TOP 5 summer launches post, by one of the worlds most influential guys when it comes to new molecules and stuff. Published book author. Running a FB page. Thus, one of the top five is a scent where he was engaged heavily in designing and optimizing the formula, giving a helping hand to a micro niche house. Not that it matters, really, but on a more basic level: How cool's that? OK.

    My phone sends me a text message while my politicians discuss the state of affairs of my pension plan. No future there.

    The email blings. Amazon realized that I was searching for glossy printing paper yesterday. OK. They have printing paper, too.

    "Je ne peux plus", I said to the W-factor (watching soccer). Since the ex of France's Premier Minister went to the hospital after she found out that he was dating another woman (Mr. Holland, on a scooter, which I found so French and so nice, in a twisted way... I mean imagine an US president dating a girl friend, driving to her apartment with a scooter..) , and since it was said in the newspapers that she said "je ne peux plus*, since then I use it. Lessico famigliare. Love it. It is such a great first world statement.

    "Je ne peux plus", I said.

    "GOAL! ", I got back.

    "Look at the lovely rainbow outside", I replied. " the colors , so bright. not a full one, but beautiful". We both watched it. I took a picture. For facebook.

  • hopping from here to there

    uiuiui... we have been busy the last few days. My helping hands in the factory help me not only packing perfumes, but the two extra hands help me focus and be effective. No procrastination in the factory these days. Which is good, and at the same time different to what I usually do: Hopping like a rabbit from one nice flower to the next. Zigzag. I don't know whether you have ever observed rabbits: When browsing they aren't really systematic, but go from here to there, zigzag mode; it looks helplessly ineffective, but in the end it seems to work out for them.

    Thus, procrastination happens at home, hence today's picture. Some of my water colors. I was working on lilies the other day. And as soon as this post is off and out, I will hop into the other room in order to draw some lines before I have to hop onto the bike and head down to the factory. Later in the afternoon, I will fetch the printed cards for Gardenia, Sotto la luna: The card that goes into the discovery set. This is the last piece that I need before the launch. Then I have everything. And as we are packing the Gardenia these days, I looks as if I will start the launch (September) with sufficient stock. At least for a couple of weeks. It feels so good. For the first time since I am hopping around in the fields of perfumery, I go into a launch more or less prepared.

    What can go wrong now? Everything! Think: Water, fire, burglars, earthquakes, snakes....

    Keeping this in mind, I am looking forward to growing piles of packed perfumes.

    And to end August: I booked an aquarell painting course.

     

  • the luxury of enough

    I mentioned it a while ago: This and the next week sees me working in the factory with two additional helping hands. This is wonderful, as it allows me to stock up and try to get ready for autumn. On the other hand, it sort of forces me to work in a tighter schedule than normal. The helping hands need my attention, and I need to prepare stuff.

    As always: No free lunch.

    There is a bit less musing time in the house of tauer. Or better said: In order to play I need to either stay up longer or get up earlier. You would expect that in this context, the tauer guy is super considerate and works on perfumes that are important, that change the world of niche perfumery, that will one day make you ohhh! and ahhhh! Aehhhm. Sorry. Not really. It is fun time here,  fiddling around with raw materials, soaps, all the good stuff but completely unnecessary these days. Ah, and yes: Water color is on the daily agenda, too.

    What does this mean? First it means that my scent pipeline is full. Enough "stuff" for a while. Or more cliché: I was working for years on the scents that I will launch in the next two years. Then,  it means, that I need to wait for a moment until Sotto la luna is out. As long as this line is not launched, I am not ready to embrace a new fragrant venture. Funny in a way. Finally, I am convinced that by playing around, I am laying the ground for more. Perfumery for me always comes with a BIG play and fun factor. Nothing more frightening than this: Andy gets the job to create a scent for a line that is inspired by [here follows the blarp of the brand owner's memories and wishes] and that must costs less than 100 cents per bottle (which already is a lot).

    Ok, I admit it: I am so spoiling myself. And I enjoy the luxury of taking time to think about stuff like "How can we tell that a peach is a peach and not an apple, although apples often come with the same colors". I think it is the velvet skin. You see? Important questions.

    Today's picture: a fresh peach scanned.

     

  • a cliché post

    Today's picture: A quick selfie, from yesterday, taken during my Sunday hike, somewhere in the middle of the ascension (total 1000 meters up and down again), sort of agitated, or better: second excited state (for details about what an excited state in physics actually means: click here for an informative wiki article), not knowing yet that there was sort of a challenge ahead (vertigo).

    Once almost up, I saw these: Majestic!

     

    Swiss cows Swiss cows

    It is rare these days to see cows with horns. It makes such a big difference, and with horns these peaceful animals demand more respect, really.

    So there we go:  A cliché post from Switzerland. But no worries: I will not go into banalities, such as " Tuberose is worth its weight in gold. " /a cliché perfumery statement that is not true, really. At least me, I get perfect quality of tuberose absolute for less than 40 K$. But maybe I have better suppliers. For more details: See here, and there. I mention these posts, as I drooled reading one and then the other. No mischievousness, though.  It was a perfect reminder for me that me too needs to be on the watchout for cliché traps.

    It just happens. When it comes to perfumes: Cliché are around the corner. And flowers;  a discussion that I have on a weekly basis with my design guru: flowers. Everywhere. Except in the flacon, unfortunately, mostly.

    I took the hike, that turned out to be more demanding than expected, because it was perfect weather for a hike, I was home alone in Zurich, I didn't go for a hike for a while and because I figured that I need to sort out a couple of things, perfumery things. Hiking is best to figure out things. You start happily with a big cheers! on your face, and then it goes up and up and up and you are sweating like a horse, and the mind gets all aerated and clear.  At least in my case it works like that. And, after a while, as you get a bit tired and exhausted, the perfumery things become less important and other "things", too and voilà: The perspective gets right again.

    I wanted to thing a few X-mas things through.

    I guess I am really blessed: 2 hours by public transport and you are in alpine solitude (I actually came across almost nobody up there). And I guess, I am blessed because I have not really much to complain these days. Except, maybe, that I have a touch too much work. But this will change again.

    Right now: Printing 1000 lot number labels for Gardenia. These need to go onto the flacons.

     

  • Yesterday's salad

    Today's picture: Yesterday's salad. With a promise: I won't convert this perfumery blog into a foodie blog.

    But still: It was a great salad, and as we eat salad on a daily basis, and tons of it, I have to come up with innovative dressings from time to time. Yes: no dressing from the supermarket in the house of tauer.  Yesterday's dressing featured: Clear vinegar and olive oil extra as base, with salt and pepper. Added herbs and spices: Garlic/a lot, capers, and thyme, chives, arab mint finely cut and: lavender flowers, freshly picked. I guess, lavender essential oil might work well, too. Although, to be honest, I prefer the real thing, the flowers and buds.

    The lavender goes extremely well with salad; What can we learn for perfumery here? Hmmm. Not much, I guess. Except maybe: The possibilities are endless. This is true for salad dressings and for perfumes. I will keep this in mind when hitting my olfactive studio today, on my creative Friday, where I am going to work on a few specialities (fragrances) and a picture (watercolor. Don't ask...). I will soon go to a class for watercolors. Next week, unfortunately, there will not be much time to be creative; I have help in the factory, for two weeks, labelling Gardenia, boxing, packing, building more stock of perfumes for after the summer. I am looking forward to that and might need to get used to the idea of speed painting.

    Thus, happy Friday here! One last thing: I took the picture to share with friends, yesterday. Looking at it again this morning, I realized that the colors are neatly matched. Yellow-violet. Red-green.

    Nice! More on colors and their relationship, complementary, primary, secondary et al.: You might want to briefly check wikipedia here.

    May your Friday be colored, too. Enjoy!

     

     

  • COLOGNE du Maghreb

    Today, after me packing more Colognes in tauerville yesterday, a word on the Cologne du Maghreb, and an illustration of the cologne flacon, as seen in the factory yesterday, digital.
    Sooooo.... the cologne: First a couple of links pointing to reviews. Have fun reading about summer bottled!
    Gaia Fishler at The Non-Blonde
    Jodi Battershell of Fragrantica
    Samantha at I Scent You a Day
    Vanessa at Bonkers About Perfume
    Kafkaesque at Kafkaesque
    Grant Osborne at Basenotes
    Lucas at Chemist in the Bottle
    Mark Behnke at Colognisseur

    You see: We did some promotion there. Or better said: We offered samples to bloggers. More reviews are to be expected. When I send samples, I never ever demand that bloggers write, nor that they write positively. I wish so, of course, as we all do not like to read unpleasant articles about our creations....

    I mention this, as I was thinking about the cologne as a perfect example of communication, and communicating or not and what happens if you have a product in a store, and what not.
    The cologne du Maghreb was for a long time in two stores only. I offered it two, three years ago, as test, and as there was some demand. I did not offer it on my store, nor did I promote it really. Although, don't get me wrong: I think it is one of the best cologne out there on the market, whereby I mean  REAL colognes, not perfume camouflaged as cologne. This cologne comes at a concentration of 4%, all natural, handmade, in low numbers. Of course, I am totally, 100% biased and not fair. Anyhow, it is a wonderful product for a great price, really, yet this was and is not enough. (you remember the 4P: Product, Price, Place, Promotion). Assuming that the place was right, it was Promotion that was missing. It needed help. Promotion. People talking. Perfume lovers chatting about it. The press publishing (we can dream, can't we?)....

    The days when the circle of niche (artisanal, indie, whatever) fragrances was small enough that the pure existence of a scent was enough to make it known, to automatically have the word spreading, these days are over. In a sense, 10 years ago, there were exceptional circumstances, of a market emerging, with consumers being on the alert.

    Promotion, of course, means much more than sending samples to bloggers. Like said above: We are talking about press, pictures, and and and. The goal: Getting out of the corner.

    And this is the end of my post: You know, sometimes I fall into a state of stasis, when I see how much money pours into promotion by brands, be they niche or not, and what effect it has. It is brainwash money. Used very effectively, coming with the desired result. Like an article in the NY Times, about that everybody seems to talk, highly agitatedly, without realizing that it actually is just a perfect marketing piece for a larger store chain and their new fragrant products, repeating facts that were like that since always as news

    Here, being niche in a niche in a niche, I can't really do that (pour money), but at least we can try to be smarter. Although: Not easy, really.

  • stampometric look at the world

    Today's picture: A detail photo of the very bottom of a commercial invoice made by Tauer, signature to the left, below the "preferential origin" statement, and the company stamp to the right. I also introduced a new tag with this post, "general craziness".  And stampometer.

    I am convinced that looking at the world through a stampometer (or custometer) helps understanding it. Both meters come also with a good prognostic factor, for instance for economic development of a particular country/region. An example (no offense to anybody anywhere): I face on a weekly basis the fact that customs in one of the larger countries in South America where people like to play football is out of control and super ineffective. Think: A sample set sits in customs for one month before being dealt with. Dealing with a 33$ value item often translates into asking pitiable inhabitants of this country to provide tax id etc.  The same applies for goods imported by companies. Guess what: I a world, globalized and with labor divisioned all over the globe, as an economic region, you will not unlock your full potential if your country is shielded by customs.

    I guess  one could start an investment fond and become really rich, using a stampometer-custometer approach.

    Other examples: Company stamps are 100% needed for some middle East countries. It does not matter how they look, what's on the stamp, all irrelevant. Completely irrelevant, BUT: The stamp MUST be in blue. No way if it is not. I'd assume that not even the normal bribe mode would help with papers stamped in red. Thus, I got sort of a company stamp, Tauer GmbH being the official name of the company that employs me. Yep: I am just an employee, like most of you. The stamp is simple, and in blue.

    And guess what: Since I have this stamp, I stamp everything that comes near it and looks like it might end up on any customs desk.

    Da Puff!

     

  • one stroke, all gone

    Today's picture shows you a failure, actually. A quick sketch, that I destroyed with a few brush marks. Having done a quick experimental sketch of a cowboy head, I added the background, too early, as the cowboy color was not dry, yet, and with the wrong color and everything fell apart. A couple of things to learn there: First, I am seriously considering going to watercolor school as I learn day by day that I need to know the technique better. You need to be on top of the material, really. This takes practice. Second, patience is not my core competence, and third, maybe, that not always mistakes lead to wonderful results. Ah well. It was just a quick sketch.

    In perfumery: The same thing. One stroke with a note, and it is all gone, washed away.

    Practice, practice, practice. Without losing curiosity, and the courage to explore. Practice can come together with routine. A dangerous path.

    I wrote the other day, in plain text, among other things, to my business partner, about Sotto la luna: "With Sotto la luna, as a creator, I am moving forward. It is hard to talk about the driving forces and changes that guide a creative process. Yet, I can feel that Sotto la luna comes at a point of my creative route where I become gentler in my expression."

    Maybe I forgot one point there: I got more patient, too. At least there.

    What's next this week? We have 1000 bottles of the gardenia, Sotto la luna gardenia, sitting in bottles in the factory. Soon, I will start putting labels on and all that needs to get onto the flacons before they go into the boxes and get sealed. Patiently waiting for September. And yes, when I say gentler, I couldn't help thinking in Lonestar this morning. Not really a gentle fragrance at first sniff. But an interesting take, featuring birchtar as one of the dominant notes. A beast really to work with. At least there, in my opinion, I got the background right: Soft and cozy and warm. But, when it comes to painting, there is hope: I trained my nose for a couple of years before I created Lonestar Memories.

    So there we go, hopefully into a new week.

    You all have a great week!

     

  • maturing as creator-it means a lot of things

    Today's picture:  a detail from a quick self portrait that I did yesterday night, using my newly acquired water colors, on a postcard sized 100% cotton paper, 300 g/m2. The full picture is a bit less pleasing, but I am learning. One reason: The left eye is a touch too large, and the right eye is too dark and "over colored". Water colors are cruel in the sense that mistakes are hard to correct. At least harder than mistakes in oil based colors. But water colors are more forgiving, too. I have the feeling that part of the trick is: Letting go and follow the water.

    This is exactly what I try to do when creating perfumes, the longer the more. Follow the composition where it brings you. Just follow it. It knows where to lead you. Trust it. The other day, when proudly presenting a couple of experimental scents and the upcoming Gardenia from Sotto la Luna ® (sorry: I need to do that ®-thing...), I got a comment from a business partner that made my day and made me think. It was a compliment and like most human beings I am flattered by compliments.

    Here's a piece of advice, in brackets, how to deal with most bosses: Make them a compliment. You may even compliment them for something (like an idea) that they did not do/had. A sentence like "ah, by the way, I so love your idea to consider expanding  towards the xyz markets next year; I wish I had it. ..." can do wonders.

    Brackets closed.

    So I got this compliment where I was told: "I love it (the fragrance); you know, compared to your earlier fragrances, you changed". - "In what sense", I asked.-

    "Your compositions got more balance, they got a bit more finesse. They reflect a change, probably a creator maturing".

    I agreed. Yes, I think I moved. As a creator you are always on the move. Forward, backward.

    I kept thinking about it. I realized that  maturing is also a translation for getting older; a fact that is true, like it or not. Maturing, for me, translated also into a subtle reminder of the end point, the end of me creating scents. Not today, not tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow.

    In that sense, Sotto la Luna is a point of inflexion. The journey is not over, but looking down from the top of the hill, I take a deep breath, enjoying the view, I  see the path on the ridge down there that I walked. Whatever happens now: I managed to walk along this ridge. The next hill is waiting, new challenges, but for a moment, there is peace.

    Today's tasks: Learn to hold the water color brush properly :-), transport some stuff into and out of the factory, and put into words what makes Sotto la Luna special, and why, from my limited perspective as creator, it is important  in my perfume creating world. Why it does not compare. And why it compares.

  • developing a sensibility for French historical perfumes

    hello, hello, hello!
    I am sorry, but my plan to post here on my blog got a bit twisted due to little changes and me not really considering a couple of things: You know... a plan is always a plan and therefore prone not to work anyhow. Hence, after a great get away in Paris, visiting the really worth visiting van Gogh exhibition in the musée d'Orsay which by itself is worth visiting, in a city that is always worth visiting, independent of whether you hunt the city for perfume or not (I didn't), I got home and got a little hospital timeout that was planned as such. You know: 5 min. and home you go. The 5 min got a bit longer, and 48 hours later I am scuffling from here to there, not on my knees though. But definitively slower.

    As this blog is not a sickbay reporting station: A word on perfume in Paris. I did not hunt perfume as I sort of landed from a highly enthusiastic state of "let's have a look at perfume!!!" there to total boredom within 1 minute. I visited a boutique as I saw the Tilleul by d'Orsay in their window, the Tilleul is one that I like and wanted to get it as a gift for a friend. The boutique owner, nicely and eloquently, started his prayer wheel and the following church service was like "here you find only the fragrances that were made in Paris centuries ago. Everything you see here is perfume art from about 200 years ago,blablabla...." And as much as I love the Tilleul and respect d'Orsay for their great fragrances that are modern and classic, I had to get out of there. D'Orsay was only one of many brands that was on the boutique's shelf. I could smell the cold humid scent of muggy air, feel the insurmountability of centuries gone by, rotten perfumes rising out of their graves, in search for the pure perfume loving souls and their Euros. I think I am developing a "French historical perfumes" sensibility.

    Here's great news from the artist's diary. While taking a day off, I purchased some decent water color and some decent brushes and suffer since then. Either too much or too little water, color or both and yes: Not easy. Although, when watching these training videos on how to do watercolors it looks super easy. Trust me: Creating perfumes is exactly the same. You get the colors and brushes and start painting, and even if the first strokes look perfect, the painting doesn't. Funny side note: On the paper on which I test the mixed water colors I  have the brightest strokes. On my paintings, I don't ...

    If I find time, I will try to paint today's picture: My zucchini plant in bloom. Such a great color.

    Another great news: I get/fetch my Sotto la Luna : gardenia filled flacons these days. Another step closer there. Next: Printing labels and the cards for the packaging.

     

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