Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Holidays and Free Shipping from Providence Perfume Co.!


Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

'Tis The Giving Season

Happy Holidays from Providence Perfume Co!

Providence perfume Co. - all natural perfume

The Holiday Season is upon us!  Our gift to you fragrance fans?  Free Shipping! We would like to offer free U.S. shipping to our valued customers until Dec. 20th.  Enter Code: FREEHOLIDAYSHIP at checkout and your entire order ships for free! Our travel atomizers make perfect stocking stuffers, hint-hint.

And speaking of gifts, our Amber Cream body oil has made Ca Fleure Bon's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide!  They are offering a fantastic giveaway of luxurious covetable holiday gifts (including our body oil) online at:

Hurry--the giveaway ends Dec.8th!

We recently received two fantastic reviews of our perfumes Eva Luna and Jazmina.  Both are pretty feminine florals created from premier tuberose and the finest jasmine sambac we've ever sourced.  An excerpt from the review of Eva Luna reads: " . . . The natural tuberose note is creamy and gentle, not dramatic in a Fracas-like way, and it emerges softly through the slight mossiness of the fragrance’s heart. I enjoy this transformation from foliage to florals in Eva Luna. It feels like walking from a garden (a vegetable garden!) into a forest of moss-hung trees, and then encountering a single white (magical?) flower growing in a dusky clearing." -Jessica, Now Smell This
Of Jazmina solid perfume, Victoria at Eau MG writes: "Jasmine is the star here . . . the florals used in Jazmina are top-notch. The solid perfume blooms with time. It's elegant, but very impassioned . . ." Victoria, Eau MG

Attention Local Fans:  Our perfumer Charna will be at the East Side Unversity Heights Whole Foods this Saturday from 2-4 as part of the "Buy Local Holiday Gifts" event.  Stop by to meet, greet and receive free samples of our fine natural perfumes.

Over and out.  Happy Holidays to all and may your celebrations be merry and fragrant!



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gee, you smell terrific!

Providence Perfume Co., an all natural perfumes company

In a recent interview, I was asked the question: "How do you know when you've created a remarkable scent?  How do you know when you've hit a proverbial perfume home-run?"  I was perplexed.  I paused, and then realized I had no idea what to say.  I stumbled a bit and then awkwardly fell back on the only truthful answer I could give: "There's no way to tell."

I wish I was constantly stopped and asked by strangers, "What is the incredible scent you are wearing?" or told, "Gee, you smell terrific!"  I'm not.  In all fairness, I wear less perfume than I used to.  I spend so much time blending, and working on perfumes I can't wear fragrance that will interfere with my sense of smell.  I've made the mistake of using a scented lotion or shower gel and then applying a perfume I'm working on.  I'll puzzle over the fact it smells differently than it did the day before, only to realize I've applied a scented lotion that morning.  I've learned to be careful with what I wear when I'll be working.  I do wear fragrances when I go out to dinner or to meet friends for a drink, and sometimes just to run errands especially if I'm feeling slovenly.  As if a spritz or two of perfume will make strangers forget I'm wearing yoga pants and uncombed hair!  I do love perfume, however I'm now careful of when and where I apply it - ah, the classic perfumers dilemma.

On a humorous note, I have had the opposite reaction to being perfumed.  Recently, I was pouring large batches of solid perfumes for a wholesale order.  I had been working on filling the solids all day and was pouring larger quantities than normal.  The hours flew by and before I knew it, it was time to pick my kids up from kindergarten and I was late.  I raced to the car and drove quickly to the school to pick them up.  As I exited the car, the teacher's aide who was waiting with the children physically recoiled from me.  In my rush, I realized I was covered in traces of assorted oils and had spilled some balm on my jeans.  I was an overly scented hot mess.  She smiled weakly and thrust the children towards me who happily hugged me.  They are accustomed to their sometimes malodorous mommy.  As I drove away I tried to imagine what the teacher's aide thought of my disheveled appearance and pungent aroma.  I pictured her walking into the teacher's lounge and stating: "Wow - did you guys meet that mom who wears WAY too much perfume?  She reeks!"

Back to the topic at hand.  How do you know when you've created an amazing, best selling natural perfume?  Despite my initial stumble, the interviewer did pose an interesting question.  Maybe she hoped to hear it was easy for me to recognize when a perfume would be a bestseller.  I would finish the perfume, put away my supplies and spend the rest of the day in a satisfied state.

Maybe some perfumers just know.  Maybe there would be a universal chorus of accolades.  Friends, family, critics would unanimously decide the scent was perfect, remarkable, wonderful!  Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I blended my perfume Gypsy, I really loved it.  I was thrilled it aged well, deepening and becoming richer and smoother.  I only modified the perfume slightly from my initial blend, which is unusual for me.  I usually make many modifications until I get the perfume just the way I want it.  Once the modifications have been aged, even more revisions are made.  It's a process.  With Gypsy, I felt I had created a good perfume that needed little revision.  I was confident it was well blended, and well balanced.  When I had friends and family sample Gypsy their replies were luke-warm.  Nobody disliked it, but no rave reviews were received.  I was puzzled as I found Gypsy really wonderful.  Rich and retro, with a bit of an original modern day spin.  Pink lotus, tonka, lavender  . . . many notes in sum, harmonizing in a smooth velvety manner.  Fast forward a year and Gypsy has become one of my bestselling natural perfumes.

I describe this scenario as it answers the question the interviewer asked.  I answered there was no way to know when I had created a "bestseller."  There was no initial chorus of compliments, no immediate sense of having created a "home-run."  I liked it.  I thought it was lovely.  Did I know it was going to sell well?  No.  Did I know critics and reviewers would like it?  No.  And while I do like getting feedback on my natural perfumes and packaging and promotions, in the end it all comes down to me, and my sense of what I think is good, what I think works.  I'm not always right, but I'm always the most important opinion.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Providence Perfume Co. November Newsletter-for fine fragrance fans seeking sales

Our November Newsletter is here.  Read all about it: including fantastic discounts, sales info and "fragrant friday" deals!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mini Review of The Little Book of Perfumes by Turin & Sanchez

Providence Perfume Co. specializes in natural perfume.

It's not every day I'm offered a free pre-release copy of a book - let alone one about Perfume.  Needless to say, I was suspicious but hopeful when I replied to the email I was sent by a Penguin publicist requesting I review a new book.  My copy of The Little Book of Perfumes the Hundred Classics by Tuca Turin and Tania Sanchez arrived a few days later.  As I'm a big fan of the original book PERFUMES-The A-Z Guide by Turin and Sanchez, I was excited to read their new pared down perfume primer. Note to publicists: this is an incredibly smart way to generate buzz in the perfume community-very smart indeed!

First, the cover and design of the book is eye catching. A graphic black and white printed cover opens to hot pink liner pages.  Snazzy.

As I thumbed through the pages reading reviews of the 100 Classic Perfumes, I was most happy to note that Luca and Turin devoted a good deal of content to dealing with the revisions of many of these classic perfumes due to IFRA regulations.  Many of these classic perfumes have been so heavily revised they are but a shallow remembrance of their former greatness.  I appreciated that the authors were careful to re-sniff the revised 2011 perfume versions with many of the natural ingredients removed and meticulously note the changes brought about by IFRA's restrictions.  

When teaching my Introductory Natural Perfume Blending classes, one of the topics that most surprises students is the modern revisions to classic perfumes.  When I explain that the current versions of the favorite perfumes, perfumes they have strong scent memories attached to; fragrances worn by their mother or grandfather will never smell the same they are shocked and sometimes angry.  I was pleased the authors focused on these changes and the foreward written by Tania Sanchez speaks volumes on the topic of regulation.  

No Oakmoss Allowed!

Along these lines, my favorite review in The Little Book of Perfumes is written on a perfume that many consider the holy grail of classics: Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue.  The review of the original perfume is as one might expect, glowing.  Turin writes, "This is Guerlain the virtual pastry chef at his best, with a fragrance that teeters on the edge of the edible for hours without missing a step.  If you're Red Hot Riding Hood and a hungry wolf just rang the bell, this is the one for you."

Regarding the revised 2011 version of L'Heure Bleue Sanchez writes, "A pretty stranger has come in claiming to be your best beloved.  It is hard to be angry with her.  She is clearly out of her mind; they look nothing alike.  You sit and wait patiently for your love to turn up.  The windows go dark, night after night while the stranger smiles and dawdles, waiting for you to forget.  Can you?"  I love this review, witty and making it's point clearly.  Please stop messing with our perfumes!  Let the consumer decide.  Excessive regulations on possible allergens are not the answer.

Providence Perfume Co. specializes in natural perfume and in natural fragrance, you can contact us at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Helter Skelter - losing your mind while running a small business

Helter-Skelter: adv. 
chaotic, disorganized, every which way, hurried, pell mell

I stare groggily at the blank check I'm writing.  It's very early in the morning and my children swirl their oatmeal around in their bowls, while poking each other.  I can't remember what I'm writing the check for.  A field trip? A utility bill?  I stare blankly at the check waiting for my mind to start working.  It's 6:45 a.m. on a gray rainy Wednesday morning, and I think I've lost my mind.

Losing your mind, or memory while running a small business can be disastrous.  I'll admit, I've never been the most organized person, but lately it's gotten worse.  I'm juggling so many balls at once, that I'm bound to start dropping a few.  Recent examples of me being absentminded are rampant: forgetting doctor's appointments, forgetting to reply to important emails, forgetting to place orders for business supplies, not keeping up with social media like I used to, forgetting family members birthdays.  Some of these mistakes seem small but they have a large impact on my life and my business.  They result in negative impressions, loss of money, sales and exposure.  

So, what to do?  Addressing the problem is the first step, right?  I realize that I'm frazzled.  The small part of my personality that is controlling and a bit of a perfectionist must release the reigns.  I'm trying, now unsuccessfully to do too much.  I've made a realization . . . (dramatic pause) I think I need some HELP.  I think trying to do it all myself is starting to backfire.  Initially doing it all myself was the best and only option.  Now, I'm not so sure.  A wonderful fellow perfumer once gave me a great bit of advice regarding running a business, "Do everything you can yourself -BUT- know what you can't do, or aren't good it and have someone else do that."  Maybe it's time that I decide to assign someone (other than myself) some duties.  Maybe it's time to hire an intern, or one of the PR agencies that keep contacting me, or a sales rep. Then, maybe the next time the lights flicker, I won't worry I forgot to pay the electric bill :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy October Sale!

It's Fall.  I woke this morning to the sounds of honking, not unusual here in the city.  The honking got louder and louder and I sleepily rubbed my eyes and tried to figure out where the noise was coming from.  Louder and louder, closer and closer the honking escalated.  I realized it was the sound of a massive flock of Canadian geese flying over the house headed south!  I raced to window to see the tail end of the large V-formation of birds as they sailed noisily out of site.  The formation was so large it cast a shadow upon the house and small backyard.  It was truly an incredible sight!

Glorious autumn in New England.  My favorite season.  Gone is the humidity, and the ever present late summer thunderstorms.  The air is cool, the leaves are crisp, the apples crunch and there is a hint of frost in the air.  Glorious autumn in New England!

I am celebrating the season with the launch of a new website.  The new site is cleaner looking and easier to navigate.  Please visit and let me know what you think.  For a limited time, you can get 15% off your order by entering discount code NEWSITE when checking out.  Sale ends October 10th, so if you've been meaning to try some of our fabulous natural perfumes, here's your chance to try them at a fantastic discount.

Our October Newsletter is available HERE and contains more information. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brave New Scents: A Natural Perfumers Guild Project

The Outlaw Perfumers are honoring the aromatics of the 21st Century
Providence Perfume Co. -  All natural perfume

I am participating along with 10 other professional perfumers and bloggers in honoring rare, new botanical ingredients.  These botanicals are new additions to the perfumer's palette, and have only recently been distilled and made available for perfumery.  Many are rare, costly and in small supply.  We create our brave new scents as a tribute to these incredible essences and those renegades and risktakers who travel the world to distill them.

My contribution to the project is a perfume called Jessamine, a tribute to the state flower of South Carolina where my mother resides.  Jessamine is a southern inspired citrus jasmine inspired by the yellow jessamine that threads it's vine like flowers throughout the fences and gardens of the southern states.

Yellow Jessamine


  • Top Notes of Cedrat, Yuzu and Galbanum
  • Heart Notes of Jasmine Auriculatum, Aglaia, Linden Blossom and Pink Lotus
  • Base Notes of Orris, Hay and Tahitian Vanilla Bean Tincture
    Yellow Jessamine is the state flower of South Carolina.  It’s aroma is an exquisite blend of jasmine and citrus notes and grows wild throughout the South.  Alas, all parts of the vine like plant can be toxic and often under pollinated as bees shy away from it’s alkaline nectar.  My interpretation of Jessamine combines Cedrat with it’s candied lemon peel aroma with rare Jasmine Auriculatum, sparkling Aglaia flowers and a soft cashmere orris vanilla base.  Evoking Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, southern drawls, Jessamine covered verandas and the hum of cicadas.  Y’all please enjoy.

I made a very limited amount of Jessamine eau de parfum.  It is available online at in 6 ml. atomizers and deluxe samples.

Participating Perfumers Include:

Ambrosia Jones, Perfume by Nature
Anya McCoy, Anya's Garden
Charna Ethier, Providence Perfume Co.
Christi Meshell, House of Matriarch
Elise Pearlstine, Belly Flowers
JoAnne Bassett, JoAnne Bassett Perfumes
Rohanna Goodwin Smith, Ascent Natural Perfumes
Adam Gottschalk, Lord's Jester Inc.

Participating Bloggers/Critics:

All I am a Redhead

Contact Providence Perfume Co. at
We specialize in organic and botanical perfume. Coming soon, a blog on organic perfume.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Nitty Gritty of Retail Packaging

Barcodes, boxes and bills.  I'm up to my eyeballs in them.  The following includes some basic tips I've learned from my recent experiences in developing custom packaging and retailing my perfumes in a larger venue.  Please note, I'm not claiming expertise!  These are tips from a beginner venturing into the mass retail market.

In a recent meeting with a large retailer, a bunch of retail and financial terms were bandied about.  I sat in between the buyer and department manager and realized my head was bobbing back and forth as if I were watching a tennis match as they spoke about my product and it's viability.  The terms included things such as price point, ROI, barcodes, package security, scannability, market profile, display units and cost effectiveness.  I made mental notes to google the terms I was hazy on as soon as I got home.  I smiled knowingly, took notes, agreed to everything, shook hands with confidence and walked to my car.  I left the meeting sweating profusely and immediately began working on acquiring the three main elements I would need to secure my product a spot on the shelves of the retailer.

They were:

1. Order custom perfume boxes ASAP
2. Order barcodes for perfume boxes ASAP
3. Order custom display unit ASAP

Did I mention ASAP?  Despite how hard I worked, it all took months.  Months of calling suppliers, carpenters and companies.  Lots of emails that started with, "RE: Order placed 3 weeks ago" and "Please confirm delivery date" which leads me to point #1

1) Despite the claims of printing companies, your boxes, labels, signage etc. will take significantly longer than promised.  Does the website claim your short-run boxes will print in three days?  Add at least six days to the equation.  There will be questions with graphics, custom die manufacture delays, someone will go on vacation and your "artwork approval" email will get mysteriously lost in cyberheaven or hell.

2) The price you are quoted for your boxes will most likely NOT be the price you actually pay.  Did you need a non standard size box?  A non standard size box seems to be any size box other than a bar soap box. Did you want foil? UV Coating? Do you want to order less than 250 qty?  All this costs extra.  While I didn't get all the bells and whistles, I did have to pay for a custom die cut box and foil die cut.  These are one time fees and when I reorder boxes I won't have to pay the die fees again, but trust me they sure add up.

3) Be sure to ask your sales rep about the different materials available for boxes.  Some companies have lots of different paperboards available, some have just a few.  I had my heart set on using 100% recycled material for my boxes, but when the sample arrived it was so thin and fragile I worried about the safety of my product.  Anything heavy seemed it would fall out the bottom of the box and the rep admitted they had some issues with "shelf degradation."  Another term I was unfamiliar with, but understood to mean "These boxes don't last long on retail shelves."  I ended up using 60% recycled material as the box material was much thicker and sturdier.

4) Should you have multiple fragrances or product and not be able to afford to order 100 qty. of each scent, you will have to modify the box with a label.  This is another additional expense.  Pay close attention to the size and color of the sticker you order as you will want to make sure it fits and matches the pantone color of your boxes. Should you order your labels from a separate company you'll want to make sure they arrive around the same time as your boxes or you'll spend a week waiting for them and will have to pay extra to have them overnighted to you so you can make your deadline with your retailer.

5) Keep in mind that white boxes and white labels won't always match.  Apparently there is a wide variety of shades retailers consider "white."  Additionally white boxes tend to look dirty quickly on store shelves.  If you have your heart set on white boxes you may want to pay extra for a coating to help protect them from discoloration.

6) Size matters!  Believe it or not, there is a tipping point in the size of a boxed item in relation to it's ability to be shoplifted.  My retailer pointed out there was concern with the small size of the perfume they had chosen to carry.  Apparently things that are the size of chapsticks or lipsticks are hot items, meaning they are frequently stolen.  I purposely had my smallest size perfume box designed to be larger than the perfume inside.  This decision is not without it's issues as the perfume does jiggle in the box a bit.  This could be resolved with a custom insert from the box company ensuring the perfume does not move in the box for an additional fee.  Needless to say, my perfume will be jiggling a bit as I did not spring for the expensive custom insert.  On a positive note, I have now (hopefully) reached the magic box size where my product appears too large to be easily swiped.  Fingers crossed.

Moving on to barcodes.  I knew absolutely nothing about barcodes and had to learn quickly.  Should a retailer request you provide barcodes, here's what you need to ask.  "Do you want each of my products to have a separate barcode so you can track which scent is selling for ease in reordering?"  In my case, the retailer is ordering one size only of perfume in six different varieties.  They are allowing me to initially only use one barcode on all my products as they are all the same price.  If you have different sizes or prices you would have to purchase separate barcodes for each product, to scan appropriately.  Most retailers would require each scent to have a different barcode, for ease of tracking and reordering.

1) Do not pay more than $10.00 per barcode!  When I searched the web I found many barcode retailers selling barcodes for $25-$100.00 each.  One site with the most expensive barcodes touts the fact they are "recommended" by The Wall Street Journal and uses this to entice customers.  Many of these sites use scare tactics to push small business owners into purchasing expensive barcodes.  I ordered my barcodes from bar codes talk for $10.00 and instantly received my barcode files in three formats (jpeg, eps, and tiff) and US and EUR formats.  So far so good.  No issues.

2) Once you've received your barcode(s) you then forward them on to the retailer for entry into their system.  This will seem to take forever.  The retailer attaches the price to the barcode so when the item is scanned it rings up as the correct price.  Then forward onto your graphic designer to incorporate into your box design.

3) Do not reduce the size of your barcode beyond 1.17" x .81"  Barcodes come sized as 1.5"x 1" If you have a small box you will be tempted to shrink the ugly barcode to fit an inconspicuous spot on your box.  Just don't shrink it too much or it won't scan.  Don't ask me how I know this as I will become bitter and cry :)

Moving onto the final challenge: your display unit.  (insert long drawn out sigh)  Your retailer may have some very specific ideas of how they would like your display to function.  In my case, they desired the tester bottles be glued into the display so they could not be stolen.  They also wanted the testers to NOT SPRAY, as this tends to permeate the aisles with scent.  This is an interesting conundrum as I spent a good deal of time contemplating how the customer would apply my perfume that was glued down and had no atomizer.  After wasting a few days researching metal leashes and collars--you know the ones they wrap around cameras and cell phones that retract? -- I realized this was beyond the scope and limited financial means of my small business.  I ended up using caps with dauber sticks attached.  I'm still not satisfied this application method is ideal, but it was the only solution I could come up with that fit my means.

1) Finding someone who will create a custom display for you can be a pain, especially if you have a variety of specific mediums, measurements and details you must comply with.

Most large companies have display units mass produced.  In my case, I had no display unit.  Most boutiques that carry my products prefer to display them as they please without a cumbersome display that may clash with their aesthetic.  Not having a display when meeting with the mass retailer was both a pro and con.  The manager told me that they often turn down vendors because they do not like their display.  Sometimes it was plastic, or tacky, or too large and carried too much back stock, or wouldn't fit on the shelving.  So, by not having a display unit already created, I was able to customize my unit to the retailer's specifications.  The downside to this is that you must customize the unit to the retailer's specifications. :)

2) Purchasing a very small number of custom displays can be very expensive.

When ordering a prototype display, you will pay . . .  a lot.  If you know a carpenter, woodworker, craftsperson, metalsmith etc. I recommend meeting with them and trying to negotiate a price.  Bring measurements and drawings.  Don't forget what sort of environment your display will be in.  My display was created with a closing hinged plexiglass cover to showcase backstock yet keep it from being easily stolen.  By working with a local craftsperson, you may be able to negotiate a better price for your displays later on should you like your prototype.  It's important to ask if they will be able to produce this display in small quantities for you and at what cost.  Also important to ask how long it will take to create your display.  Add 1-2 weeks to the time given.

If all else fails and you don't know anyone who might be able to create a small number of displays for you, etsy is a good place to visit.  There are a few carpenters who create and sell wooden displays on etsy who are willing to customize.  Don't forget to inquire about shipping costs for your finished display unit as they can be quite high.

3) Don't forget your signage!  Every display needs a sign.  Think of the relevant information you want to convey to the shopper.  Keep it short and sweet.  Who are you?  What are you selling?  How much does it cost?  You won't have much room to convey this information.

4) Think about the shape of your sign.  My graphic designer created a fantastic sign for my prototype display that had a semi-circle shape.  It was eye catching and I liked it.  When I went to have the sign printed I discovered that this shape was problematic.  I'm a tiny business and irregular shaped signs require--you guessed it--a custom die cut.  This is expensive and typical print runs for this type of sign run in the thousands.

I had my signage printed on foamboard at Staples for $12.00.  They were unable to cut the sign to the custom shape designed, so I had to cut the sign myself with an exact-o knife.  It came out . . . o.k.  It looks a little like an art project, which basically it was.  Lesson learned.  Next time, have a plain rectangular sign created eliminating the need for me to wield a razor blade and excessive cursing.

So, finally my display unit is finished.  I'm ridiculously proud of it.  I know how much time, effort and frankly money went into it's creation.  I try and show my new display unit off to friends and relatives any chance I get and receive a blank stare, not so subtle eye rolls and forced lukewarm enthusiasm.  That's o.k. with me.  I get it.  It's hard to get excited over a display and boxes.  They have no idea what a small micro business like mine goes through to make this happen.  It can be hard to compete with the sharks when you are just a little fish in a big ocean, but I'll keep swimming as fast as I can.

Eureka! The finished display unit

Wish me luck in my mass retail endeavor.  I may fail.  I may succeed.  At least I know I'm giving it my all.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Profile of American Perfumer: Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Co.

I was recently interviewed by Ca Fleure Bon for a profile on American Perfumers.  My head is swelling with the attention!  I was brought back to earth by hauling felled trees and branches in the backyard thanks to hurricane Irene, followed by mopping small muddy footprints off the floor.  American perfumer indeed!
In honor of the profile, we are giving away a full size bottle of perfume of your choosing!  Just go to: and enter your choice of perfume and something you learned about moi (blushing.)
To review Providence Perfume Co's complete line and scent descriptions, click here:
Good luck and hope all survived the hurricane safe and sound!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Scents of Summer: Clover, Elderflower and Raspberry Leaf

We specialize in natural perfume!

I recently placed an order for some exotic botanicals from White Lotus Aromatics  and have been waiting with baited breath for their arrival.  Included in my order were Clover Absolute, Elder flower CO2 and Red Raspberry Leaf Absolute, all of which I have never smelled before.  Being the olfactory nerd that I am, I get beyond excited at the chance to smell new essences.  For me, the first spark of excitement comes with getting to smell and mentally catalog the aroma.  The second thrall comes with the excitement of getting to work with the new botanical.  There's nothing more thrilling than breaking new ground with a new essence . . . sort of like a painter getting a new shade of paint.

I was looking forward to blending with the clover absolute I had ordered.  Having lived in rural New England as a child, I have fond memories of lying in the grass, closing my eyes, feeling the sun on my face and smelling the clover flowers.  Clover is so predominate here, it is the state flower of Vermont.  As kids, my brother and I would pick the pinkish-purple clover flowers and pull the petals out and chew the white honey flavored tips. I hoped the clover absolute would live up to my expectations and it did.  As soon as I unscrewed the cap from the bottle, the sweet warm slightly herbaceous scent filled my nose and I smiled remembering my youth.

The Sweet Clover Absolute from White Lotus is a very dark green, slightly viscous material with a scent reminiscent of sweet hay, grass, honey, vanilla and a hint of blond tobacco.  It is lovely!  It is similar to hay absolute (foin coupe) but sweeter and rounder.  In my initial experimenting, sweet clover blends well with fruity essences, beeswax absolute, honey absolute, jasmine grandiflorum and citrus notes.  I look forward to blending more with this rare absolute and would love to create a clover based perfume.  Summertime in a bottle!

The Red Raspberry Absolute is diluted at 30% and is thin, dark brownish green colored and fruity.  Because raspberry leaf is so popular in herbal teas, I immediately thought of fruit tea upon sniffing.  It smells similar to rooibos tea, but is less complex. It blends beautifully with rose absolute and I can imagine creating a mahogany wood accord with red raspberry, agarwood, and patchouli or even a brandy or cognac type accord using the raspberry leaf judiciously.  One of the best things about working with new botanicals is the stir of creative juices.  Ideas for blends pop like popcorn in my head. What would red raspberry be like added to a tincture of freeze-dried raspberries? What if I added that super fruity Jasmine Sambac I have? Would it be great with the sweet clover?  I should try red raspberry with a bit of aged patchouli to smooth it out.  Turkish Rose Absolute + Red Raspberry = Super Rose!

Unfortunately both the Red Raspberry and Sweet Clover absolutes are very dark in color which means just adding a few drops to a blend turns the perfume a dark green color.  As usual, it appears I am drawn to the darkest colored botanicals.  Alas, I see no clear perfumes in my future!

Moving on to the Elder Flower CO2 I ordered, which is actually clear colored and was a disappointment.  Anyone who knows me, recognizes I am a tad bit obsessed with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.  I've always had a sneaking suspicion that the liqueur smelled more of pink grapefruit than elderflower, but had high hopes for the Elder flower co2 I ordered.  The Co2 has been diluted at 50% and I find it overly diluted and weak.  The scent is of anise with a slightly sweet medicinal hay-like fecund background note.  I wasn't expecting the elder flower to smell so much like black licorice, and because it's so diluted a good amount must be added when blending perfumes to become noticeable in the final creation.  With some limited dabbling it seems Elder flower blends well with carnation, clove, and ginger enhancing and extending the spice notes and orris, by extending the powdery aroma.  Slight tea like notes emerge after a few minutes and I can picture the elderflower working well in a sweet herbal tea accord.

All three botanicals are rare, sweet, slightly fruity and perfect for summer perfumes.  I look forward to future creations with Clover, Red Raspberry leaf and Elder Flower and am thankful White Lotus stocks such rare lovelies.

Contact us to see our product line of all natural perfumes at Coming soon, our blog on organic perfume.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Join our email list and win free perfume!

I promise no spam--just a monthly newsletter chock full of fragrant deals.  For the next week we are offering the chance to win 2 free samples of your choice for joining our email list.  We will pull one email address next weekend from the new sign-ups, and the winner will be notified.  The winner may choose any two samples of their choice from our website!

To join and enter click here: Providence Perfume Co. Newsletter

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Perfume Newsletter

Our New July Newsletter is here.  Read on to find out how you can receive a FREE sample of our newest scent Eva Luna!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ode to the St. Germain cocktail

a silly Thursday post, created after too many hours in the hot sun . . .

Elderflower Power

Have you ever tried the delicious, amazing, delectable St. Germain liqueur?  If not, you are missing out on one seriously perfect summer cocktail.  St. Germain is a sweet fruity liqueur made from Elderflowers.  It's delicate and fragrant with notes of pink grapefruit and lychee.  It is ideal to cook with (great basted on shrimp or salmon with a little melted butter) and even better to drink!  My love for St. Germain prompted me and my um, associates to create a little poem.  It is important to note this ode to St. Germain was written after drinking a few St. Germain cocktails :)

St. Germain--I love you so
and not because I'm "in the know"
You taste like lychee fruit divine
and are often on my mind
A perfect quaff for summer days, and dusky nights and catching rays.
You are the new hip drink of choice, so my gay boy friends do voice.
Your bottle is art deco lovely, tall and lean not in between
and should be put on display to be seen
How could a perfumer not adore you?
Made in France by hand and from flowers too?
Incroyable! Enchante!
I could imbibe you everyday
Your elderflower blossoms are
picked by men on bikes not by car
Champagne, white wine, vodka, gin
You blend with all, it is no sin!
St. Germain, I love you so
From head to heart to my big toe

Monday, June 13, 2011

Eva Luna Perfume Launch

 Inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream
Providence Perfume Co. Proudly Presents:

Verdant carrot kisses, spring green flowers, 
joyful lovers, a moonlit dance 

All Natural Perfume - Providence Perfume Company
eau de parfum

Top Notes: Russian Carrot, Fresh Mint Leaf, French Mimosa, Bois de Rose, 
Heart Notes: Tuberose, Plumeria, Rose de Mai, Jasmine, Violet Leaf
Base Notes: Oman Frankincense, Ambrette, Orris

My newest fragrance Eva Luna was created for submission to the Shakespeare Perfume Event coordinated by Amanda Feeley.  An invitation was extended to 16 natural perfumers requesting that we create a perfume inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I must admit I had to brush up on this play as I hadn't read any Shakespeare since college.  All I remembered was A Midsummer Night's Dream contained a plethora of characters falling in and out of love which initially confused me when reading.  Upon revisiting, I was again seduced by Shakespeare's humor and biting wit.  The theme of A Midsummer Night's Dream seemed (to me) to be the absurdity of love.  Shakespeare highlights this throughout the work through countless examples.  The classic line, "Lord what fools these mortals be" echoing in my head I set about blending a magical romantic spring scent.  

I knew I wanted to use carrot full of orange zesty freshness, mimosa with it's watery green cucumber-like notes, and tuberose full of rich floral romance and seduction.  I built my fragrance around these notes, adding a lemony frankincense from Oman to the base, a bit of vanilla, violet leaf to tame the sweet floral notes, a floral musk derived from ambrette to add sexiness, fine mint absolute to brighten.  A perfect blend of summer nights, romance and moonlight.

I decided to name my Midsummer Night's Dream perfume EVA LUNA for two reasons.  First the name Eva Luna conjures romantic Spanish derivatives of "night moon."  Second, the spectacular telenovella Eva Luna seemed a perfect modern day foil for Shakespeare's romantic play where characters fall in and out of love with the help of a little magic.

Reviews of the 16 perfumes will be posting soon.  Stay tuned.  Eva Luna eau de parfum is now available online at:

Coming soon, our blog on organic perfume.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

UNCORKED! A Natural Perfumers Guild Blogging Event

Celebrating the voices of the Natural Perfumers Guild members telling us all their inner stories of how they came to love natural aromatics *or* why they love natural perfumery

Providence Perfume Co. - We specialize in natural perfume

Extra, Extra!  Read All About It.  Click on the blog links below to discover each members personal story.  Participating Natural Perfumers Guild Member Blogs Include: 

A Personal Account of How I Began My Love Affair 
With Naturals 
by Charna Ethier
owner of Providence Perfume Co.

Growing up the child of hippie parents perhaps predetermined my affinity for all things natural.  It was what I knew.  I learned of squash blossoms, blackberries and maple syrup.  I was taught how to weed and mulch the garden at a young age.  I recognized the change of seasons by smell.  I could tell when autumn was arriving before the plants seemed to realize their imminent demise.  I could sniff the air and foretell an impending thunderstorm before the clouds started to gather.  I just knew when it was going to snow by the smell of the air.  

My parents had a farm (read commune) in rural New England.  Believe it or not, the name of the town in which my parents farm was located was called Unity.  I'm serious.  To get to the farm one must drive up an extremely steep dirt road called Straw Hill for miles.  Nestled at the top of the hill lay my parents farmstead.  I have bad memories of our clunky old VW Bug spinning it's tires on the snow covered road in winter, only to slide back down the steep icy hill.  Eventually my mother would smile as she haphazardly tried to keep the small car from ending up in the ditch, and tell us to pull our winter hats down and make sure our snowsuits were buttoned--we would be walking the rest of the way home.  Despite the cold long walk, what I remember most about those evenings was the clear night sky, the bright stars and moon, the smell of woodsmoke and wool as I breathed through my scarf, the crunch of the snow under my boots.

We always had lots of visitors, parties and animals.  Oftentimes these visitors would end up staying with us for months, even years.  These visitors brought new smells.  I remember Nag Champa incense, patchouli, Brylcreem and Charlie cologne.  New smells, exotic and unfamiliar.  I liked these smells but considered them potent and possibly dangerous.  This childhood connotation between unfamiliar scents and danger could be derived from a Charlie cologne wearing woman with long black hair who stayed with us during the summer of 1980.  She seemed potent and possibly dangerous to me.  She only smiled with her mouth, not her eyes and left abruptly one day leaving her dogeared copy of "The Modern Witch's Spellbook" on the back porch.

Now I have no back porch, but from my patio in Providence I still rejoice in the aromas of my surroundings, some natural and familiar such as the green scent of tomato leaves baking in the sun, some exotic such as the delicious scent of curry wafting from my neighbor's window.  I still get a thrill out of smelling everything.  I love scents and am drawn to sniffing everything I can get my hands on.  I love natural ingredients.  I love the multihued palette.  I love sampling rare, exotic botanicals I've never smelled.  Just as I did as a child, I seek out new smells, exotic and unfamiliar.  Sadly, I may not be able to travel to Thailand, but when I smell kaffir lime leaf I can almost imagine that I am there.

Contact us at: to learn more about our natural perfume.
Coming soon, our blog on organic perfume

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Body Oil Line Receives Rave Review from Beauty Huile

My recently released line of naturally perfumed body oils received rave reviews from Beauty Huile.  Editor N.K. is an oil enthusiast and expert on the science behind the health and beauty benefits of oils, so her enthusiastic review is incredibly flattering.  Click on the link below to read:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lilac Love and Lily Liability

Lily of the Valley - photo Charna Ethier

It's spring in New England!  The winter from hell is finally over and it's time to rejoice with sunshine and flowers.  To be fair, it's rained for days and the local weatherman is predicting thunderstorms and rain for the next week.  Despite this dismal forecast I'm upbeat.  Clusters of lilacs brush softly against the window screen.  The smell is heavenly.  I hear bees buzzing and birds chirping.  The seeds I planted with the children are beginning to sprout.  It's spring!

I've decided to try and tincture lily of the valley and lilacs this year.  I attempted to do this last year and didn't manage to have the time or enough flowers to complete the process.  This year I'm dedicated, I'm driven, I'm  . . . too late for the lilacs?  The trees are beginning to go by, the tips of the lilac bunches beginning to brown.  On the other hand, the lily of the valley is just beginning to bloom.  I have lots of lily.  Everywhere. It's taking over my small flower beds.  The strawberries and lily of the valley are fighting to see who will win the small side garden plot.

Every other day I take a basket outside and pick flowers.  I carry them inside and strip the blossoms from the stems taking care to remove any leaves or debris.  The blossoms go into mason jars and are filled with 190 proof alcohol.  The flowers quickly loose their color and become somewhat transparent within 24 hours.  I then filter the flowers out, pressing them to remove the alcohol and begin the process again.  Below are photos from the first round of tinctures.

First, pick the flowers
Lily of the Valley in basket - photo by Charna Ethier

Then strip the flowers from the stems and leaves and place in clean dry canning jar

Then add alcohol.  Done!  Remove flowers and add fresh blossoms.  Repeat.

I'm now on round number four.  The alcohol is no longer clear.  The lily tincture is a light green color.  The lilac tincture is slightly brown.  I have high hopes for these floral tinctures, but yet again I'm running out of time.  The lilacs in my yard are beginning to die.  The lilacs in my neighbors yard are withered and gone by.  The season is almost over and my tincture isn't as strong as I would like.  When I smell the liquid in the mason jar it has a distinct vegetal scent.  Bummer.  I was hoping for the prevalent aroma of lilacs and instead I smell wet grass.  As I filter out the last of the lilac blossoms, I splash the liquid on the counter and accidentally place my hand in it.  I second later I smell LILAC!  Hopefully, I sniff my lilac tincture again.  No lilac aroma.  Confused, it takes me a second to realize it's my hand that smells of lilacs.  The tincture when applied to the skin evaporates leaving the lingering aroma of lilacs.  I'm thrilled.  Not exactly what I was hoping for, but not the dud I had resigned myself to having created.  I hope I can continue my tincture again next year when lilac season comes around, making it stronger.  I plan on storing my lilac tincture in the refrigerator until next spring.

The lily of the valley tincture is more successful.  It's quite strong.  It smells exactly like the flowers and I am pleased.  I would not use the tincture in a commercial perfume as I've heard nasty rumblings of danger involved with lily of the valley.  As in POISONOUS.  I know the leaves can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities.  I find vastly disparate accounts on the dangers of the lily while surfing the web.  One site notes that, "The poisonous chemicals in the plant are generally located in the roots. leaves, stem and seeds" whereas other sites warn of imminent death upon picking.  My first thought is: Didn't the royal princess carry a bunch of lily of the valley in her bridal bouquet?  Quickly followed by: I picked handfuls of the flower as a child.  I wove crowns of lily of the valley and even remember an old picture of my brother and I lying in a field of the flowers as small children.  I certainly don't mean to sound nonchalant, but I'm here to tell you I've spent hours stripping lily flowers from stems and leaves by hand and I've lived to tell.  I've also spilled a good deal of the tincture on my hand (clumsy!) and didn't experience any hallucinations, dizziness, diarrhea or death, all of which are listed as possible side effects.  I find many accounts of people posting their pet became ill or died after ingesting lily of the valley.  I note many of these are goats and horses.  Heartbreaking.   My own dogs and cats seem to avoid the plant.  Doing a little research on the Internet I find that lily of the valley was used in the 1800's to treat heart conditions, but now has been replaced with stronger laboratory created drugs. Hmm.  I can practically hear my liability insurance quadrupling in price.

Lilacs growing in my tiny back yard -photo Charna Ethier

I have heard of a few natural perfumers who readily use lily of the valley tinctures in their perfumes, and perhaps I should speak to them.  I'd love to hear that my lily tincture is safe to use as it's beautifully fragranced.  However, sometimes these things are best left alone.  A sort of "don't ask, don't tell " type of unspoken agreement.  I would never "out" a perfumer who has been successfully using lily of the valley in his or her perfume creations without issue.  Jokes people, jokes.  Besides, what would I say, "Hey there, I remember you saying you used lily of the valley tincture in your perfumes.  I read it's poisonous.  Umm, how is that working out for you?"  Have no fear, I shall experiment on myself solely with the lily tincture.  Hopefully I won't be turned into some sort of monster ala Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.  I can almost hear the tagline in my head: She was normal once, but after using herself as a test subject for dastardly experiments with deadly Lily of the Valley she's morphed into a MONSTER (insert evil villain laugh.)

All in all, I consider the spring flower tinctures a success.  Each time I tincture a particular botanical I learn something new, such as the best ratio of flowers to alcohol or that the darker purple lilacs result in a prettier purple tincture whereas the lighter pink-purple lilacs smell beautiful but turn the tincture an unattractive brown color.

One of my favorite things about using homemade tinctures in my perfumes is the personal stamp I am placing on my fragrance.  I'm assured that I have a highly original creation with my own blended concoctions.  No other perfumer may have a perfume created from New England grown lilacs and heirloom variety carrot seeds.  Just me, and it reflects my personal style and regional influence.  Additionally, I find using tinctures (particularly as the base for a perfume) allows the aroma to carry throughout the blend.  For example, by using a coriander tincture I am able to pull the gorgeous lemony spicy scent of coriander through the top, middle and base notes of the perfume whereas if I had simply used coriander essential oil, it would present as a top note and fade quickly.  I find this remarkable and incredibly exciting.

Sometimes I discover a tincture is a lot of work for little result.  I have countless duds to my credit.  Tinctures that took months of hard work with nothing to show.  I had great success tincturing freeze dried mango, only to find my second batch had very little aroma.  To be fair, I noticed the mango seemed almost scentless and lighter in color when I placed it in alcohol despite it being the same brand I had used previously.  Which leads me to a obvious point.  If a botanical doesn't smell before you tincture it, it most likely won't smell after you tincture it.  Look for the strongest smelling fruits, spices, flowers and herbs you can.  There are times  I would have been better off using the essential oil or absolute.  Tinctures are great extenders for rare and costly absolutes, not so great when they are deadly.