As the Mystery of Musk project draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on things I've learned from my participation. I never expected the experience to be so educational. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is on accepting criticism.
Let me be clear, I've heard my share of negative comments. Of late, I've been hearing quite a bit. I've been out in the field, meeting and greeting. Talking up boutique owners, attending fashion events, networking, selling my perfumes. People have told me they don't care for a particular scent, or that my fragrances are too expensive. While I accept this, I do try my best to educate these people. I try and explain the differences between synthetic and natural perfumes, the difference in cost of materials, the art of creating natural perfumes, my philosophy as a natural perfumer. But when it comes down to it, my perfumes may not be what he or she is looking for. My mantra has become: You can't please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes I become entrenched in my natural perfumery world; speaking exclusively with people who make perfumes, write about perfume, or have an interest in botanicals. It's when I step outside this world, and interact with people who have no idea what I do or why I do it that I discover I have an uphill battle ahead of me.
I'm learning to toughen up. Rejection is tough. Being the sensitive type, my feelings can be easily hurt when people don't respond the way I want them to. (Which is gushing enthusiastically by the way.) My perfumes are an extension of myself, and when people don't like them it's hard not to take it to heart. Working in sales for years, it was a bummer to hear customers criticizing a product. When this happened it meant I most likely wouldn't be hitting my sales target, or receiving a bonus. Now when a customer criticizes a product, it's all mine! A baby I slaved over for months, trying to perfect! I realize one cannot run a successful business with this level of attachment, and I'm working on distancing myself.
Speaking of distancing myself . . . all hail the powers of a stiff gin and tonic! The first critique posted of my new perfume Musk Nouveau described it as (having the scent of) "halitosis." The review ended with, "After a number of hours, that note-from-hell dissipates, but the damage is already done." WHAT? After reading this, I promptly poured myself a drink and called my Mom. And yes, I am 35 years old. Needless to say, my Mom was less than thrilled by my garbled (tipsy) complaints and gave me a tough love response I was not seeking, which was: "Charna--get over it. Are you drinking gin . . . again? It makes you maudlin, and really the review could have been worse." Really??? Worse than your perfume being described as smelling like bad breath in a blog that's read by thousands of perfumistas? Thankfully future reviews were much more positive, and I glowed from head to toe when reading comparisons between my Musk Nouveau, and Tom Ford and even Caron perfumes.