general thoughts

Items 41 to 50 of 138 total

  • to work with love.

    Happy 1. of May to you all! Like my friend Olivier Durbano said on Facebook just now: To Work with Love! That's what I am heading for: To work with love.

    My work: well.... The other day, I got an interview questions about my being a perfumer. Here's the truth: I am creating fragrances, love to, but as I am still a young venture, and by the way I do things around here, I am working on much more: I do the talking, too.  Just to give you an example.   I do the strategic planning, too. With sometimes miserable mistakes. But we are learning  and are getting better. Anyhow,  I create fragrances, true. This morning, before heading to work with love, after getting up at 5.30 am  in order to get some email stuff done while the world is still quiet, this morning, I was smelling two formulas of mine, and looking into the two excel files where I save the formulas .

    Excel is cool. One of the scents that I am looking at with my nose and eyes consists of 3 base mixtures that I came up with for this scent, put together from 20 or so ingredients, mixed with another 10 or so ingredients. The formula looks cools and simple but is a box in a box in a box thing.

    In order to understand the formula a bit better, I need to write it out again, have all ingredients written out, line by line. Excel can do that, with a few copy/paste manoeuvres.  Later in the process, super excel allows me to get a rough estimate of production costs. The moment of truth. I am in a very, very, very fortunate position, though: Contrary to many working in industry, I do not have to worry about producing a 50 cent per bottle perfume (which is sort of high end in this industry).

    To be honest: I think I have an easier life there. Let's be honest: working in this industry may suck. And I have the highest appreciation of everybody being and staying creative therein. Not easy.

    What I love about my job: it is a multiverse of things that I do. And sometimes I think creating perfumes is the easier part of what I do.

    To finish this post, and to come to the point why I wrote this post (besides the fact that it is  May 1): Here's a wonderful article that wraps it all up "What is a perfumer and how to become one"-, a post on "Volatile Fiction". If you are interested in perfumes and the world behind, it will  probably find your interest, even if you do not want to become a perfumer.

    Ah, and yes: Today's picture shows you the other scent that I am smelling right now, undiluted, from a special apothecary flask. This is not work, really, but rather play time. Experimental play time. Like I said: My strategic planning is miserable.

  • EBITDA, or I sold my first picture or bookkeeping discussions

    Today's illustration shows you me, blinking into the sun.

    I started working on it April 18, after I took a quick photo with my phone in the morning, blinking into the sun. I used my digital drawing board starting with a 2 pixel pencil doing the contours and major areas and picked colors together with a larger brush afterwards. The colors just felt right. The captured moment, me looking into the sun, felt precious and full of joy, and for that I love the illustration:  I brings this moment back, to me. Here on the blog, the illustration comes with just 300 pixel width, in "reality" it is larger.

    I did and do most illustrations for myself. "creativity and creation for whom" might be tomorrow's blog post topic, too. If I say "most" illustrations: Here's the breach: I sold my first picture!

    Actually, it sold in Pascal's shop Medieval art &vie. There, in this shop, about 9 years ago, I sold my first fragrance. It was Pascal's idea, back then and still is true these days: "Why not sell it?"

    Here are two reasons why to sell creations (perfumes, pictures, marmelade):

    1) It makes money flow your way. Ha!

    2) It is the ultimate accolade for your creation and yourself as creator.

    Talk to creative folks and you will hear, quite often, phrases like "If they don't get it, and don't buy, then forget them." , which makes sense, as otherwise we would all still do our cavern drawings. On the other hand, if folks don't buy, it can be an invitation to think about why they don't.

    So I have sold this picture, and learned a lot. The picture was cool, I already miss it: a scanned red cabbage, photoshopped, printed on plexiglass, 20x30 cm. The place where it sold: not your average picture shop. Promotion: Not existing. Price: Well,well...  So there you go: The 4 P's, Picture, Place, Promotion, Price (kidding: It should say "Product", not "Picture"). Interested in McCarthy's 4 Ps? Here's the link to wikipedia. It is worth thinking in these terms from time to time. I guess I will have to come back to it again. Anyhow: I sold my first picture.

    And you know what: It made me so happy. When I learned about this fact, I had to call Pascal. All excited. It was exactly the same 9.5 years ago, when Pascal sold the first Le Maroc pour elle. Pure excitement.

    And the money for the picture: It went right onto the tauer perfumes sales account, which -actually- was a mistake as it does not belong there, but should be on another bank account. But then: Bookkeeping discussions are complicated already. Let's not add another dimension there. Here's an excerpt  from the discussion on Sunday morning with bookkeeping (I am so blessed: I have the best bookkeeper ever):

    Bookkeeper: Hey, great news:  you earned so and so much money so far in 2014!

    Andy: What do you mean?

    Bookkeeper: You are writing black figures...

    Andy: What's my EBITDA looking like?

    Bookkeeper: What?

    Andy: Earnings before interest and taxes, depreciation and amortisation.

    Bookkeeper:  hmmm...

    Andy: EBITDA, really, tells you a lot about our current operational profitability.

    Bookkeeper: you are such a bluffer!

    Andy: True! And now, I want to buy more bottles!

    Bookkeeping: Forget it!



  • Schlamassel can be said with a smile on the lips

    This morning, I was checking a word for its origins as I was not 100% sure, but pretty sure that "Schlamassel" is actually a German word of Hebrew origin. Right I was. I think, in English, however, it does not exist, contrary to "Massel" (En: mazzel, mazeltov). I love Schlamassel as word. Being in Schlamassel means being really in troubles, being in a mess. In my ears, there are tonalities to Schlamassel, too. For me, there is a tonality of self imposed troubles, there is a tonality of things that are very serious but still not about life and death.


    Can be anything. Like the Japanese/Greek/Italian, (continue the list here _ _ _ )  depth troubles. Like Switzerland after a vote where a majority votes in a way that brings us into a Schlamassel. Or the Euro Schlamassel. Or the post financial crisis Schlamassel in the US. Or the niche perfume industry Schlamassel.

    Or my little Schlamassels when it comes to suppliers these days. My Schlamassel solution: Wherever I can... build a second supplier. Just to be sure. But I do not want to complain in this post. I just happen to love this word. Also because you can say it with a smile on your lips.


    I guess in one way or the other, we are all a bit in a Schlamassel. At least from time to time. And from time to time, we have all have Massel.

    Here's to your day with lots of Massel! Mine started great, with the sun shining into the kitchen, where I am baking a pie for later today.

    Today's picture: a shot from the factory, where we are filling flacons like crazy. No Schlamassel there!

  • cellophane and vanilla

    Today's picture shows you what I did yesterday: Packing Lonestar Memories. I am getting better at cellophane wrapping, adjusted the settings and especially my technique in order to get a tighter, less fussy seal of the packaging. You see a packed and sealed box to the left. The ones in the back miss the cellophane, yet and to the right is part of the instrument that provides heat and stuff to seal. Made in the Ukraine.

    I am happy that this process goes better and takes less time than initially thought. In a sense, I like doing it. It feels like adding that last little thing, like a cherry on a cupcake.

    What I also did yesterday: Thinking about a few experiments, especially a couple of recent trials of my "vanilla centric" fragrance that keeps me busy and unhappy. Although, there is hope, there always is. Actually, vanilla centric sounds a bit cold and I am also thinking about another name to go with the trial phase. But I can't really come up with something that does not sound like a bad copy of a bad perfume ad. Thus, for the time being: Vanilla centric means "my interpretation, following my ideas and using the stuff that I like". Once I am done with this post, I will actually move into the other room, where the raw material aluminum bottles are waiting for me. I put a couple of things out of the fridge,  and will mix trial 8.1 following a recipe printed out from Excel. 8.1 means iteration number 2 on idea number 8. Number 8 was a simple approach, and needs a few, finer lines added. The excel is full with iterations, and variations and circles that at some point close again. What I am trying with 8.1 is using the core of 8, and moving forward from there. Thus, for instance, I used "sandalore" in 8. Only. I will move towards natural sandalwood in 8.1 to get extra softness, a bit of a lactonic sweetness. I found that sandalore did not do the job properly.  I Maybe the end result will be something like a mix of sandalore and sandalwood in the base. We will see.

    Contrary to what a lot of perfume lovers think: Sandalwood (s. alba, from Mysore) is not THAT expensive. But still, used in the base, and used as relevant compound in maybe 6% concentration: It adds up, but is worth it. It fixes like no other natural and blends into almost every base.

    anyhow: The reference that I have in my head, is hard to describe. I guess I want my vanilla to be soft, not loud, close to the skin, spicy, woody, creamy, flowery. well, maybe I just want to much.


  • a newspaper for perfumes

    Every Monday, we get a few pages from the New York Times, some highlights of last week's NY Times features, printed and added to one of our two daily newspapers. I am always looking forward to receiving it, as - quite often- there are little sparklers in there, worth reading. Unfortunately, reading and learning about the news and developments of the world, written by journalists who have done their research and thinking, has been replaced by a facebook-twitter-"Hunk Of The Week "- thing for many. The media is the message; nothing new,  I have written about it many times on this blog.

    The media is the message means: the media influencse the way a message is received. This is true for TV, internet, printed information,...

    Anyhow: I came across this article in the NY TIMES about art, and a visual artist and there, it said, referring to an exhibition of a hip young artist: "....that the exhibition defines our times, a kind of gilded age on steroids, when the past gets repackaged as farce. "

    I couldn't have found  better words to describe the state of works in the field of perfumes, too. I would just add "...and the present is drowned in tackiness without the hope of future melioration."

    Let's face it: farce fits quite well, for most categories that are there. If I talk to perfumer friends, we normally end up within 5 minutes in "this is so unbelievable! Oh my..! How horrible! How can they do that? Oh no, not again!"-territory. What me and some of my friends do: Shake our heads, and move forward. Thus, we say, often "the caravan moves forward, let them sit in the oasis, or is a fata morgana?

    So there we go. This brings me back to the newspaper. I wish there was a newspaper for perfumes, too. Complementing the perfume discourse, where journalists write about perfumes who did their research and facts checking and investigative digging. And, sorry, blogs-facebook-twitter do not count there,  the media is the message. And I guess glossy magazine don't count either, and TV does not, too. I just want investigative down to earth journalism for perfumes.

    Of course, the media is the message is true for this blog, too. I guess that's ironical. And now: a happy start in tauerville. Today's picture: A self portrait, done 2014 03 23, photoshop, pencil, reduced in size for publication here. Unsigned, as I forgot to sign it.

    Tasks this week: getting ready for next week! Next week sees me travelling and shutting down the shop and website for a few days for maintenance.

  • Unidentified Fragrant Objects

    Good morning to you all! The other day, I did what I rarely do: I was reading a perfume lover's description/rating of one of my scents on one of my retailers website. Actually, I was looking for a particular information there. And then, you know how it happens, you end up reading this and that, without really knowing why.

    I try to avoid reading what perfume lovers say about products, mine and other brand's products. It can be a depressing, distracting, or a narcissistic ego-pampering experience and does not really help, on a daily basis. But still, I ended up there and read a short fragrant review/rating that said "it's not what it says it's supposed to be". There you go. We continue yesterday's topic. How on earth do you say what a fragrance is supposed to be?

    ... a moment of thinking.

    There are fragrance categories, that you might want to use, like "chypre". But, unfortunately, we live in a world where a "chypre fragrance" does not really mean much anymore. Chypres are gone. For good.

    You might refer to ingredients, but the more complex and elaborate a perfume is, the less this is helpful. If you create and present a mono theme scent like vetiver, consisting of vetiver and not much more: Fine. Otherwise, confusion ahead!

    You might say it is supposed to be like xyz. With xyz being classics, well known scents like a designer maltol bomb. But what do you do if you do not tend to follow tracks and copy/paste existing scents?

    And, if you happen to have an own style, and a technique that is somewhat different, how do you say what it is supposed to be? Tricky.

    But there is hope: Looking at things from a larger perspective, this is part of the fun of smelling perfumes. Again and again.

    But wait, there's more. Even when you think you know your scents: Suddenly, one day, revisiting a well know fragrance in your collection, might turn out not to smell the same anymore. It is not anymore what it was supposed to be, because something's changed. You. The scent. The world.

    I finish this post with the following mail that I got the other day. It is another approach by perfume lovers  in search of scents that are perfect. I was asked ..."can you make me the l'air du désert marocain without the incense? I will pay for it". That was a refreshing email. Unfortunately, I had to say no.

  • Today's picture shows you a train, Rhätische Bahn, in the evening, passing by the entry to the Morteratsch valley, early in the night, with the last daylight reflecting from the snow mountains. I was there Friday night and took this photo while the train passed by my hotel room. So yes: That's the view we got there. Kind of cool. And after weeks of doing weekend shifts and night shifts, I sort of needed this and felt like treating myself to it.

    As it is spring now here in Zurich, and as winter seems to be over and gone and puff! everything grows and starts shooting up under a bright sun, I decided to say good by to winter by visiting it one last time. Up there, where they got lots of snow. Like 1. 5 meters or so. Amazing.

    So, yes: I live in postcard land. Sometimes.

    But contrary to what one might think when being deeply immersed in Facebook and Co.: Even in postcard land there's work to get done. Today: Eau d'épices. I got the labels, without typo, and need the scent to go into bottles and into boxes and into more boxes, in order to ship to retailers and my own shelves. The box for Eau d'épices will be the rectangular metal box; time to switch there.

    And while I do this: Here's an idea for you. An interview, by Elena Vosnaki from Perfumeshrine, published on Fragrantica, with me, talking about "....doing the splits; between my playful creative process where I am coming up with my dreams, and the spreadsheets of bookkeeping and cash flow calculations...." Enjoy!



  • fast-forward self and system

    today, something new: a sketch that I have not done, yet.  No flower, no flacon, but a quick manga boy sketch that I did this Monday morning on the computer - or on the screen rather- while the other computer was doing its backup thing and needed a reboot. Getting all the back-ups done and getting them stored securely is always high on my attention agenda. Every day, I run two cloud back-up, of the core business data, on servers of a European company, specialized in business data backup. And every day, I mirror most of my data on an external drive. Pictures created on the computer end up on creative cloud, and then there is dropbox, too. I guess I am a bit paranoiac when it comes to data.

    I am mean: I am very well aware of the fact that in a shorter time than we would think, (almost) all the data that we have produced are dust. A few years and the carriers of the data cannot be accessed anymore: Do you still own a floppy disk driver? Add a few decades and the data are mostly gone anyhow as the digital storage technology is not made to last centuries. Add a few centuries and you will face a language barrier already. Add a few millenia and the concepts to understand most of the stuff we are talking about are gone. And in a few billion years this planet is gone, too. Thus, why worry?

    I worry because I am stuck in the hic et nunc of my daily operations. Like we all are. Which is perfectly fine.

    From time to time -or better even: regularly- it is important to get out of this trap: Stop worrying about the long tail of all the stuff that is done, stop worrying about  backing up the data of the past, and fast-forward self and system, in search of new coordinates. Screening new opportunities and thinking the unthinkable is actually fun, too. If you do, of course, most people will not be able to follow.

  • fairtrade and a day off

    I wish you a great start into your new week! Here, things are a bit different than they normally are. First, the nose is dead as a dodo (again) due to a cold that is on its way out. So... no happy playing with scents in the house of Andy. Then, I was working over the weekend in order to compensate today and tomorrow. And, today and tomorrow I am taking some time off. Back on Tuesday night, I will make a little newsletter shout-out, for the explorer set additions.

    So there we go: Off.

    Today's roses, in the picture, were an experiment, I wanted to train myself a bit in photoshop, or rather wanted to try out a trick or two. The physical roses are Max Havelaar "Fair Trade" roses, and -in my humble opinion- a little but still significant difference that we all can make- I hope so at least. I am not sure whether something like Max Havelaar in perfumes ingredients actually exists on a broader scale. I do not think so. At least I have not heard about it. There are some natural products that you can get in organic quality, or from local cooperatives, but I think there is no label and no guarantee from a third party, on a larger scale, in perfumery, that would compare to Fairtrade.

    I think this is missing. It is very comparable to the clothing industry: The labor cost is basically nothing. 5 cents more or less for a shirt or 1 $ dollor more for a fragrance might not make a difference here. But a difference there.

  • Pareto principle

    "Quite often, I d0n't ask myself whether I do things well, but whether I do things sufficiently well."

    That sentence came to my mind yesterday afternoon, and I took a note, writing it down on the pad, for today. Paret0's principle, 80/20 rule: There we go! Doing things sufficiently well can actually mean doing less to gain time and energy for other tasks or opportunities. An example: I spend 80 of my emailing time writing mails that are sales related but are not relevant for more than 20% of sales. I spend 20% of my emailing time for mails that are sales related and are relevant in the context of 80% of my sales. Doing things sufficiently well means: Cut these 80% of mailing time. The same is true for geographic sales, or sales to retailers. Or maybe stop working on a sketch after 20% because you already reached 80%, but of what?, that's the question when it comes to creative projects.

    Following strictly the pareto principle and optimizing my creative and business life accordingly, I could do 80% of my sales in 20% of the time I spend these days. The remaining 5-6 days of the week I could actually do whatever I wanted. How fascinating is that? Of course, we all do not work like that. Why? Because the 80% wasted are often the most thrilling and exciting slots in our days; interesting email communications with clients, fascinating twitter distractions and well, ... discussions where we all learn about many things, that are more or less relevant, or more or less amusing.

    Still: One of my missions in 2014 is to optimize and adjust. Pareto's principle will be helpful.

    Today's sketch was done with Pareto in mind. Enjoy!


Items 41 to 50 of 138 total