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.