Monthly Archives: October 2014

Items 1 to 10 of 18 total

  1. 1
  2. 2
  • Your average Friday morning

    Here's my average Friday morning picture.

    To tell you the truth and nothing but the truth: Friday, I am usually tired. And happy that this part of the week is over. Which is sort of strange, as I rarely do not work over the weekend. But heading into the "factory" Saturday is different: This Saturday, for instance, will see me getting some pictures done, of PHI-une rose de Kandahar, just hero shots, but still.

    About todays picture: I shows you what I always do, early in the morning. Smelling something (And drinking coffee); usually, like in this picture, it is a scent strip that sits there for a couple of days and I see /smell how it is developing and how long a particular effect is there. You remember: Paper scent strips are like turning on the slow motion for a perfume. This picture is from the left side of the bench. The right side looks like there was a brown bottle tsunami coming from behind the computer. You see: I want my experiments near me, and am no good in cleaning up.

    What's next? Right now, waiting for the postman, expected to bring me raw materials for some experiments over the weekend. Then: preparing the palette for the next shipment going south, and waiting for the Fedex man picking up parcels. And while doing so: getting more scents into boxes. Yep: We are super busy these days.

    Totally unspectacular, but still super exciting. Have a great Friday!

  • light's the enemy

    Yesterday, when labelling more Rose chyprée in the factory, the sun broke through the clouds and brought the flacons to life. Today's picture shows you this moment. This is a rare sight, as the flacons are stored all in boxes, hidden on the shelves, and do not see the light really. Neither do I see them. Light is actually a perfume's biggest enemy.

    Although, I think, not every scent is equally sensitive. I remember the one flacon of air du désert marocain, that was sitting in the window of a shop in bright daylight, for about 2, 3 years. When I noticed, I mentioned that the flacon should not be used as tester anymore, as the scent's probably gone. We tested it, the shop owner and me, and, oh wonder!, the fragrance was still there, almost perfect. Just the citrus chord was a touch off, but really just a touch. So that was cool.

    I remember another scent of mine, the last drops of my limited edition "orris", now about 8 years since I presented it (without any plan to bring it back up to now). These last drops (think 100 ml) were always sitting in a closed but large aluminum can, with (unfortunately) quite some empty volume, air, and when I tested it about two years ago, it was off. Still recognizable, but definitively off.

    So there you go: Perfume can turn bad, and eventually it will. In a sense, perfumes are alive. They change.

    And they change also (slightly) from batch to batch, because what goes inside changes, especially naturals. As much as we all hate changes when it comes to our fragrances, in a sense I like the idea: perfumes as living matter.

  • success in perfumery

    In one of my comments on yesterday's blog post, I wrote what some of my perfumer friends and me often say:

    "success in perfumery is twofold: a) get the creation right. b) get it sold."

    Here are a couple of consequences, or better: conclusions, that you might draw if you take the above seriously. There are a lot! of unsuccessful perfumes out there. And the two success parameters easily get into conflict. Not in the sense of: A beautiful piece of art does not sell well, in GENERAL, as it is -special, unique, avant garde, new, intellectual.... That's not true, but rather the appeasement by creators (me not excluded there). But the conflict might -for instance- come from cost factors to (seemingly) get the creations right.

    Actually, I think the above translates into: You have to stay loyal to WHAT you create and HOW you create. But, at the end of the day, you must always create FOR the others out there, not for yourself.

    At least, if you wish the "others" to finance you by buying your creations. If you create for the fun of it, then it's a different story, of course.

    So, anyhow: You see... a slippery road, a thin line, a balance act, and easy to find yourself being up a blind alley.

    And ...oh so relative, confusing and diffuse.

    But here's the thing: Sometimes, when building your little empire, as a brand or a person, you tend to forget to this, and you tend to forget to ask  from time to time, and to listen to the answers.

    For me, Rose flash, was such a question; the rose flash link goes to fragrantica. There, you find a few comments, what perfume lovers say about this rose. Interesting answers actually.

    Today's picture is a snapshot from an outdoor exhibition in Milan, sponsored by Vogue Italy. Movement. Fits perfectly.

  • everything

    Pretty much everything was troublesome when trying to get PHI-une rose de Kandahar back, in somewhat larger quantities in order to give some to the stores, and some to distributors that serve markets that I can't serve directly.

    Troublesome, from A to Z. In the end, as mentioned here many times before, the rose oil from Afghanistan was a big issue. When I realized how much the rose de Kandahar is appreciated, I immediately got in touch with my supplier. They reserved stock for me, from the producer in Afghanistan. That stock was sold, although promised and reserved for me, to somebody else. Then we found another producer who said that he still had rose oil. When my supplier ordered in my name, like a millisecond after I heard from my supplier the good news, this was sold out, too. Then there were a couple of false positive hits (nobody to blame..) and then there was me, basically giving up for 2013's harvest.

    Thus, I got my rose oil in summer 2014. Ah well.

    In May, I ordered more green bottles. They never got here. For many, different and difficult reasons beyond my and my bottle producer's control. Thus, I decided in September to switch to clear bottles as the alternative was too expensive. Do I like this change? You bet: NO! But then: I had no choice, really.

    When I launched the PHI-une rose de Kandahar last year, as a fun and limited thing, I realized also that there was a design flaw built into the Collectibles series (the collectibles are scents that I produce around a raw material that is hard to get and the scents are hard to produce....). The flaw: The label was on the top. As long as there was only one collectible on the market: No problem. But with the second, things got complicated. Removing the top translated into: You could not tell anymore which fragrance is which. Not terrifically bad, but bad.

    Thus, I got new labels for the flacons. Did I like to do that. You bet: No. But I had no choice, really.

    But here's the good thing: Did I have to change the formula. No.

    Today's picture shows you a sketch of the new label .... part of it. Have a great start into your week!

  • cliché

    Today's picture shows you a little ( more or less post card sized) illustration that is one of the results of yesterday's watercolor class. Yes. It is very cliché. I painted it following a picture, and have no idea what mountains these peaks actually are. Maybe they are somewhere in the US?  No clue here: Any guess?

    So there we go: Cliché. I love them, we all do. They are all around us. There's tons of cliché when it comes to perfumery, and -sometimes- when giving presentations I feel like: Lets enlighten the listeners. Deep down there I am still a little bit a scientist. Thus, during the radio talk the other night, there was the cliché of perfumes and pheromones and how perfumes can be used by its wearer to attract the innocent, unknowing guys or girls. Cliché. Forget it.

    But then, we all love cliché, and why destroy them if we all love them.

    While travelling to the place where the radio talk took place (in a cool bar), I googled "perfume ad". Wow. Talk about cliché.

    Here's a nice "counter" cliché picture that I found there, too. I love this one. Here's the link. As I am not sure about the copyrights, I prefer not to publish it here, but please, check the link.

    "Cliché", is what I thought yesterday night, watching for some time Home Order TV (jewellery section), as I sometimes do before going to bed when suffering from restless brain syndrome. There is nothing more soothing than 15 minutes home order TV. It is like a church service. And they sell. That's a least what they tell us. It is selling, in the most professional way, and I bet: They are profitable. Which brings me right to the last point of this post: Amazon (still) running in deficit mode. How cool's that? There is nothing wrong with Amazon. From time to time I get stuff there, too. But here's the thing: There, in this industry, profit right now seems not to be that important. A classical cutthroat competition.

    One last point, so to say "something to think about for the weekend": Two days ago, when watching a show about money, a priest actually said something interesting, and it is sort of in line with me watching home order TV, and thinking "church service". The priest said, referring to `money makes the world go round`: Actually, this is heresy. So there you go. Have a great weekend.


  • Land Your Inventory Early, and a rose de Kandahar crime story

    The guy poking his tongue out at nobody (!) in particular, this might be the devil of logistics. The rest of what you find in today's quick sketch: No idea, really. It was a procrastination exercise a couple of days ago.

    Well, maybe it is comparable to Odin's ravens: Bringing the news of the world. Here's a the wikipedia article to this mythological picture. Thinking and looking into my sketch again: Actually, my figure has one eye only, too, like Odin. So there you go: It might not be a devil, but rather "Odin, the furious one" (link here).

    Odin hrafnar  (By user:Ranveig (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

    So there we go: my sketched raven actually brings you news.

    First things first: PHI-une rose de Kandahar is going to come back. Yes. Uff. It will be end November, though. The closer you are to Switzerland, the earlier probably. By December 1 PHI-une rose de Kandahar should be back in the US, in the stores, on the shelves, too.

    Yes: I made enough to offer it to most stores, also Italy.

    I haven't been talking about this rose de Kandahar that's sold out since early this year because, well... because it was a logistics and sourcing nightmare from A to Z. I will go into some details next week, I guess. Some of the details are interesting, as they highlight the troubles that you run into when you, a brand, tries to do things differently. You know: Rare raw materials, hand made flacons, exclusive packaging... so there you go: Next week more's to come.

    And then: I got my shipwire newsletter this morning, telling me to "land my inventory early". Specifically: Before November 20. Shipwire runs my warehouse shelves in the US. Not that it is entirely new to me, but... suddenly, suddenly, it is there: The shiver running down the spine. Oh, my ...the holidays are coming! And like every year: We are not entirely prepared for it, yet. Time to get into "land your inventory early"-mode now. Off we go to the factory. Packing perfume.


  • me, before the presentation glamorous environment.

    I took the mirror picture in the rooms where members of the circolo dei lettori in Turin can come, sit, read, be. Basically a public reading room, open for members. Stunningly decorated rooms, full of history, uncounted read books lingering in the air.

    I took the picture before my presentation. After the presentation, I was a bit tired. Being out and presenting what I do, my world of scents and my values is always tiring, and drains a lot of energy. Tonight, there will be another appearance, by Andy. A radio show, a new format, on the Swiss culture radio channel SRF2Kultur, to be aired in May 2015.  Maybe the discussion will be aired end October, 29th, too. And... it will be fun! The topic is seduction, and we , a couple of players in various fields, will discuss, in a bar in the evening, which is cool. Here is the announcement of the event, on the Galicia bar's website.

    In German, seduction translates in "Verführung", and it goes back to "führen", guiding. "Verführung" basically comes from guiding someone from here to there, whereby there is a place that might have slightly negative connotations. You know: Guiding someone towards a bit slippery territory, shady area. Perfumes can for sure seduce. But so can perfumers. And marketing guys working for perfumery companies. Seduction to buy....

    I think, a very simple approach to seduction by perfume is: With perfumes, you can reach out further, attract somebody, like a flower attracts by its scent, from a distance. It is like creating a scented sphere around you, telling the world: Here I am and I am smelling interesting. And nice, hopefully.

    But maybe seduction by perfumes means also changing one's body odor, and thus bemusing, puzzling the counterpart, hiding your body's scented messages.

    I am looking forward to tonight's get together. Very much. And while labelling bottles today in the factory, there will be ample time to muse about seduction.

  • the Italian way

    I am back home from my trip to Turin, where I was given the opportunity to give a talk about incense, in my perfumes and also a bit in general that is. The presentation was in the framework of the "circolo dei lettori". For those of you who speak Italian (I don't, unfortunately): Here 's a short overview in the Italian newspaper STAMPA.

    It was fun. Before starting with my presentation, with the hundred or so attendants already in the room, ready to hear my story, I burnt some incense. That was a first for me. The idea was to create a mysterious and scented environment for my incense talk. I think it worked. There was smoke and it was a nice entry point into the world of incense. One of the points in my talk was the fact that incense in perfumery actually means "olibanum", extracts of incense resins, made to use in perfumery and cosmetic applications. So yes: perfumers normally do not put the resin into their creations. We work with the steam distilled extracts, or Carbon Dioxide extracts of Boswellia serrata, in the case of Incense extrême and Incense rosé.

    It was a wonderful opportunity. And: Italy is different. Italian perfume lovers are different. There is this incredible appreciation of all things fragrant. There is the appreciation of artisanal perfumes. And there is a curiosity that I always find amazing and lovely. I feel very much at home there. And, just to mention this, too: Turin has about the highest density of perfumeries offering rare perfumes. I visited 4 niche perfumeries, offering rare and selective perfumes, all within a radius of 1 km, in the center of Turin. How cool's that? And if I say niche perfumeries: I really mean niche. Rare. Selective. No xyz (your favorite pseudo niche brand here). There really IS an appreciation for artisanal indie scents.

    No wonder, Italy is the country of slow food, too. It all fits together.

    Coming home, I decided to have a culinary phase-out, and cooked us a nice tomato risotto. And as October was mild and felt mostly like summer: I used my niche and rare tomatoes, home grown by me, in my little urban farming experiment, pampered through a wet summer in Zurich.

    And there again: Good things in life are simple. Today's picture shows you part of what went into the risotto. It does not show the red wine (just a bit) that goes in there, the cream and the cheese that follow towards the end (Parmesan, of courses), and salt and pepper. In general, I would say, the Italian cuisine is simple. Simply the best ingredients that need to be given some time to cook. And some imagination. Et voilà. (a starting point for a recipe, for instance, you find here, in the NY times.)

    The same is true for perfumery. Just the best ingredients. Time and some imagination...

  • before I leave: Now Smell This read for you

    Before I will leave for Turin, leaving stormy Zurich, for hopefully sunny Turin, I have a read for you. Not too long, but interesting and nice, at it puts things into the right context: Please visit Robin's Now Smell This blog (click here) and follow her thoughts on Gardenia sotto la luna. And feel free to share your thoughts there, not here.

    Does she love it? No, not really super mega enthusiastically. But that's ok. What I love about this particular review: It puts this fragrance of mine in the proper context.

    I feel understood.  This feels good.

    And now: Off for Turin. Talk to you soon again. Have a great weekend!


  • hurray, hurray: An office day

    Today's blog post title actually rhymes. Cool. I should do more like these. It is an office day, from A to Z, after three days in the factory. Today's picture shows you what I did there yesterday: Orange Star. The picture shows the last step before the flacons go into boxes: Putting the tops on. This is after filling, polishing, putting on the black o-rings (cache pomp like) and the labelling the best part. Then I am done with them and can forget about them for a while.

    So it is an office day, and hurray: I have sent around 100 mails with track and trace links as rose flash update to perfume lovers who ordered back-ordered rose flash a while ago. Things seem to look a bit better than for the first round and I just hope that they will all go out smoothly, and do not need any more interventions from my side.

    Better not, as I will be travelling tomorrow until early next week: Turino, I am coming. What I will do there? Make a few sketches if time allows and give a talk, a talk about incense. And how I use it. All in the great super exciting wonderful context of the Circolo dei Lettori. Here's the link. I was to busy in the last few days to get nervous, but now I can feel the adrenaline kicking in. The talk will be Sunday. so there's time. I will bring some different incense extracts that I use in my scents, like the CO2 extracted Boswellia serrata extract, from India, extracted in Germany. And maybe one non incense extract that I use in Air du désert marocain. Why this: Because, well, because in the dry down of this raw material (labdanum essential oil) there is quality that reminds of incense. When back, next week, I will talk in a radio show, about scent and seduction. To be aired in May 2015. Exciting, too!

    So talking about incense. When going through my incenses and picking and smelling my labdanum essential oil (a speciality really, a steam distilled oil being standardized by adding some of the residue that remains after distillation.... yes: It makes a big difference!), when I smelled these next to each other, I thought that it might give a nice combination. Lots of incense, and much labdanum essential oil. Some ambrox to add lift. A woody leathery note, maybe cypriol that most of you know from oudh fragrances these days, and maybe a hint of ...well, this I do not know yet. This is how I find my best ideas. Smelling raw materials and coming up with a four or five liner as fragrance. What follows next is the roaring machinery of optimization and redoing trial after trial.

    But the office day is not over yet. More mails are waiting, going to suppliers, trying to find solutions in my super complex supplier chain machinery. Not easy, a challenge quite often, but in a certain way a rewarding challenge.

    Have a great day!

Items 1 to 10 of 18 total

  1. 1
  2. 2