Showing posts from 2006

Artisanal - Worldwide and Wonderful

This image of perfumed gloves hand-in-hand, as if two friends reaching out and clasping hands in friendship is very evocative of the old Artisan Perfumer and Glovemakers Guild in France. The two guilds used to be intertwined, since Grasse was the center for both the perfume and glovemaking industry, and perfumed gloves were the rage for many years. Now guilds are spread out all over the world, all with the same credo: help others learn the art of whatever the product is you are making, and work to keep the standards up by finding new methods and helping the apprentices. The Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild, although only six months old, has 75 members now, from all over the world. This week, if you click on the Basenotes website you'll see photos of a guild member,  Alexandra Balahoutis, who was interviewed by Basenotes, and the guild logo, posted by Basenotes in recognition of the guild naming December Natural Perfume Month. It's a historic moment of our small, growing gu

December is Natural Perfume Month - Follow Up

What a great response! Many perfume blogs posted about this (see original blog entry, below) and I'll be interviewed on Marlen's Perfume Critic blog next week on the subject. The major magazines' beauty editors that received promotional baskets with the announcement were so supportive when I spoke with them - and they've been supportive of natural perfumery in the past, so we're all looking forward to the increased public awareness of the art. The Guild is taking baby steps, reaching out, spreading the word as best we can. Thanks for Ayala for her amazing work on her blog advertising all the Guild member's sites in association with December is Natural Perfume Month. Thanks to Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Scented Salamander, Indie Perfumes, Coutorture, Blogarithm, and portals far and wide who picked up on it -- and please forgive me if I've forgotten to list your blog, but let me know, and I'll add it.

Bad Suppliers Will Scrooge Ya

Don't Get Toadally Scroodged This will probably be my longest post ever here, but the subject is coming up so often on my group, weekly, in fact, I was urged to go public with it. We recently had a chat going on my *private* natural perfumery (NP) group about NPers receiving fake aromatics from suppliers they trusted. It's not the first time this has been brought up, and it seems the same guilty suppliers are still selling bunk. Bad news for the naturals industry, since they misrepresent their oils, and we NPers are dedicated to using only natural aromatics. Con artists, ripoffs, fakery and just plain lying have plagued the perfume industry for centuries. Nothing new under the sun there. When aromatherapy (AT) became popular a few decades ago, many enthusiasts jumped in and started importing oils and selling them to hobbyists and in turn, professionals, as the discipline grew. I want to bring this discussion out in a more public venue such as this blog, since many newbies enter

December is Natural Perfume Month

December Is Named Natural Perfume Month By Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild December is Natural Perfume Month When Fragrant Trees and Wreaths Bring the Outdoors In, and Natural Perfume is the Gift of Choice for Many For Immediate Release MIAMI SHORES, Fla./EWORLDWIRE/Nov 29, 2006 --- The Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild has named December Natural Perfume Month in recognition of the growing interest in natural fragrances. The first naturally-perfumed gifts associated with the month of December were those given in Bethlehem of frankincense and myrrh. Those fragrant tree resins are found in many natural perfumes today. Click below to see an enlarged picture of rare Hojari Frankincense incense, one of the most beautiful fragrances in the world: During this month, ancient traditions called for a fragrant conifer tree, wreaths and boughs decorating the home. Today, the wonderful aroma of cooking with sweet spices like cinnamon and clove adds to the ambiance, creating a true holiday atmosphere.

Anya's Garden Store Now Open

Thanksgiving weekend has given me a reason to be extra-thankful. No hurricanes this season (yay!), I placed over 70 families in an emergency situation re: collapsing roofs (due to Hurricane Wilma-weakened roofs) into new housing in the past month when they were made homeless by October/November rains, and finally got my website store up and running. Life interferes when you're trying to make perfumes!;-) It's been a struggle through two hurricane seasons, since I ended my private label contracts with South Beach hotels that were longtime business associates, launched Anya's Garden, launched the Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild, refused a number of custom perfume contracts due to priority obligations, well, Whew! I think the hard work is over, it's going to be all about the great fragrances from now on. Natural perfumers tend to be sticklers for control. We have to. Our perfumes must meet the highest standards, our packaging must reflect our aesthetic and philosophy, and

A Timely Hiatus To Work Locally Helping Neighbors

Today is the one year anniversary of Hurrican Wilma hitting us here in South Florida. My house was without power for fifteen days. I was lucky that there was no damage to my house. Others, however, a year later, still have blue tarps on their roofs, no repairmen or supplies in sight, and are living in substandard conditions. We're all also suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome; children cry during rainstorms, and adults get tight-lipped and worried with each gust of wind. It's estimated that 15,000 homes in Dade and Broward are without solid, safe roofs, subject to flooding in the next storm. Every rain storm brings news reports of more people made homeless as the blue tarps fly off, exposing their homes and apartments to the rain. My business and personal life is very busy, so I had to find something(s) to eliminate right now. I'm going to take some time off from this blog to help with the efforts to rebuild South Florida, and also to aid in the struggle for affor

Recognizing Redefining Perfume: Letter to Natural Health Magazine on Natural Botanical Perfumery

On July 27, 2006 I was chatting on a thread on the natural perfumery group I host on Yahoo (link on the right) about an article on natural perfumers in the then-current Natural Health magazine. There were several "regular" perfumers included in the article, and the mention of phthalates made it seem like we use them. With Mandy Aftel's help, I drafted a letter to the magazine. They just published the letter, edited of course, in the November issue! It's so wonderful to see the name of the Guild and natural perfumery presented in a positive light in the media ;-) Here's the original letter I sent. Dear Editor: I am the President of the Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild, founded by Mandy Aftel, and I'm the host of a 900+ member Yahoo group for natural perfumers. Natural perfumers define themselves as artists who use only aromatics from nature, such as absolutes, concretes and essential oils from plants. They may also use natural source beeswax, and perhaps ambergr

A bee's gotta do what a bee's gotta do, a whale's gotta do what a whale's gotta do....

Photo of a woman perfuming her garments with incense of Ambergris "Fumée d ambre gris" by Sargent. Vegans beware -- this post is not for you. Squeamish folks beware -- same warning. Animal products in perfume. There, we all settled in now for a nice discussion of using animal "stuff" in perfume? Well, not all perfume. I'm going to discuss the animal products I use in my perfume. As long as the animal isn't harmed, I'm for it. No need to address goat hair again, Frontrunner (see post below) has been ID'd and we can all see he's quite healthy and unharmed. I find that the incredible complexity, the pheromonal pull, and the staying power of perfume is fabulous when a tiny bit of animal "stuff" is in the mix. I won't use anything that harms an animal. Period. One anonymous grouch (they're always anonymouse, lol) wrote me trying to be sarcastic and accusatory that there's no need for animal products in perfume. Well, that goes

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long. And the forest will echo with laughter.

(Please see update at the end of this post re: Frontrunner.) Helg's Perfume Shrine blog is featuring reviews of my perfumes, and her writing is putting me on cloud nine. Already reviewed this week, Fairchild is joined today by a review of Pan that cracked me up, replete with a quote from Led Zeppelin. Helg will review Riverside next. I'm stunned by her writing ability, as you will be if you look back through all her blog's entries. It is gratifying for a perfumer when a stranger on the other side of the globe (Greece) conjures up visions and words that make the fragrance come to life via words. Now if only the New York Times knew of Helg! The lovely blond-haired goat that had the hair around his horns snipped for Pan is named Frontrunner and he lives contentedly on a farm in British Columbia where he keeps a lot of lady goats happy so they produce an abundance of milk for Tracy's Goat Milk Skin Care products at the Natures Natural Solutions farm (that's what I

Natural v. Synthetics

Just a short post today because I'm in a twirl over the fact that two stores, one in Dallas, one in Seattle, and two spas, one in Canada, the other in Miami, want to carry my perfumes. I couldn't let this wonderful dialogue, stimulated by an excellent post by the lovely Helg's blog, wafting out from Greece, go unnoticed. Her Perfume Shrine illuminates the oddities and innacuracies in the recent New York Times article by Chandler Burr that attacked the use of natural aromatics in perfume. I posted a link to Helg's entry on the Perfume of Life forum , and I think lovers of perfume - natural or synth! - will enjoy the exchanges and illuminations going on there. I will not even attempt to find an illustration for this entry, since Helg's is the absolute perfect image.

Today is Blog Day 2006

It's late in the day, but I just found this out when I visited my friend Anne in Sweden's yummy Anne's Food Blog that we're supposed to list five blogs that are new to us on our blogs. This is all springing from the organizers of the event Blog Day 2006 This is hard for me, since I don't visit blogs often, just the ones in my blog roll. Well, I had to pick Cupcake Bakeshop listed on Anne's site, which is a bit of a cheat, but I LOVE cupcakes, so there it is ;-) I discovered a lucky student on a grant was traveling the world visiting sources of fragrant aromatics for the perfume industry, but the Scent Traveler hasn't posted in a while, too bad. Enjoy her archives. From a completely different dimension, and a locale that will soon be mine is the lovely and demure Twisty Who Blames the Patriarchy a spinster aunt for all seasons (and seasonings - woman likes her Tex Mex.) Austin and all Texans and patriarchs are her fun and fodder.

"I was steeled for disappointment" turns to nuzzling..nice!

In the past month, since the launch of my line of Anya's Garden Perfumes, many samples have made their way around the world. UPDATE: even though I am not going to purchase the huge lot of bottles that are planned for the line, (because I'm moving half way across the country), due to popular demand - and impatient perfumistas who want some juice *now* - I have a small lot of some bottles on their way to me this week. They're not the *real* bottles, since I need to order them by the 1000s, but they'll make due in this pinch. Email me privately if you're interested in full bottles of any of the perfumes you've sampled. So the samples are making the rounds, and various reviews are coming in. One from a perfumer, Andy Tauer, one from a perfumer-in-training and Guild member, Lucy of Indie Perfumes, and now one from a perfumista on a forum I frequent. They've all reviewed Pan, attracted by the fact, I suppose that I am the first perfumer to incorporate tinctured

Inspiration + Creation + Tedium = Rewards

In the five weeks of existence, this blog has had over 1600 visitors. Some are natural perfumers (and typically they're the only ones who leave comments ;-) I know there are perfumistas from various blogs and forums, and perhaps the rest are folks who just stumbled across the blog by accident, or perhaps they searched for perfume blogs and found this little all-natural corner. Ten comments have been left, and I appreciate every one. This post will be about how Rewards come from working through Inspiration, the Creative Process, and how Tedium is necessary for any artist to produce a product. All artists need to have a wellspring of Inspiration to draw from to give them ideas and passion to create. No matter what your field, you must have that inspirational spark to ignite your energy, get the right and left sides of your brain going. In Creation, my main stumbling block is the necessary followup, Tedium . You've heard about the person full of creative ideas who leaves the proje

We're All Led Around by Our Nose

Our sense of smell. Our nose. Our reason for reading blogs like this, or obsessing about perfumes, some of us so finely-tuned to our scent receptors we sniff wet metal, rotting wood, paint, everything funky and sublime, no barriers. We just sniff. We love to stimulate and pleasure our nose. And think about what we've just sniffed. And think about what there is out there to sniff. There may be a blog titled "Lipstick is my Crack" but in my opinion, the perfume lovers need a "Perfume is my Crack" site. We spend a lot more than the lipstickistas, and heck, we can spray our sheets with our adored perfumes, setting the mood for our nighttime reverie. And the lipstickistas don't remember their first shade of gloss -- but I bet they do remember the scent of it. The nose rules all. The Smell Culture Reader is a must read. This anthology only covers perfume slightly, but it does delve and swim and luxuriate in the full world of scent, blending the funny with the inte

White Light, White Heat

Deceptively fragile and innocent looking, the white flowers are the secret nose bombs of the perfume world. The tuberose pictured here, from my garden, is capable of scenting the air for many meters, and the essence of the tuberose, in a perfume does the same. Diffusive, narcotic, wildly sensual, these Mexican natives hold sway over many a garden and many a lover. If you right click on view photo the larger version will allow you to see the thick waxy surface, oil cells and pollen of this lovely flower. UPDATE: I'm getting use to the blogweirdness. If you just double click the photo, it will enlarge. The Grasse Jasmine officinale var. Grandiflorum looks like a tiny innocuous, almost boring flower, but it is the most esteemed in the perfume world. The indolic nature - has a bit of decaying funk to it - can turn some off, but its power to turn everyone else on is its secret. The requirement that it must be hand-picked during an optimal time window each day, quickly transported to th

A New World

Perfumery photo by Peter Kaminski Last night I was on the phone with another natural perfumer, and the talk turned to when we first got turned on to perfumes. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to glorious perfumes in the first big heyday of post-WWII perfume. From what I understand of history, before that, women only received perfume as gifts, but after the war, demand for the beautiful juice was prodded by returning soldiers bring lots of perfume gifts back, and the newly-liberated Rosie the Riveter types deciding they were going to snag a lot of this stuff for themselves with their new paychecks. So, by age 2, in 1952, I was the happy recipient of nearly-empty bottles of great perfumes, given to me by my mother, relatives,and my mother's friends. A cousin in Paris modeled for Dior, and I'm sure some of my stash came from her (she was 25 years older than me, not a child model ;-) So here's my funniest story: I'm about three years old. I'm sitting on the fl

A Guild for Modern Times and Modern Natural Perfumers

The Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild opened its doors on June 1, 2006. It's a Guild for the modern age, uniting artists by the internet rather than the village in which they live geographically. You can click on the Guild website to read the necessary background and glossy stuff, but in this blog I can get more personal as to what the Guild means to me, how it evolved, and how wonderful it is to see this community develop. I'm the Founder and Owner of the Guild. A little history: Mandy Aftel started another Guild in 2002. After problems managing the Guild, and rancor with local members, Mandy closed that Guild in 2003. Mandy came to know of my work hosting a huge - now almost 1000 members - Yahoo group on Natural Perfumery, and after a phone call last June to inquire how I was doing when the group hit a little bump in the road, she suggested I open a new Guild. Mandy admitted the main reason she closed the Guild was that she didn't have the knack for managing a gro

Peppery, Rosy, Citrus-Drenched Memories in a Bottle

A river in a desert is a precious thing. Parched rock and sand support few people, plants or animals. When a river or water body is found in a desert, an Oasis develops. The perfume Riverside that I have created is an homage to the botanical garden and citrus research station of the University of Riverside, California, where I received my degree in Economic Botany. It was as they say, the "salad days" of my youth, involved passionately with my studies, with my husband, dog, cats, environment, and learning how to think, since UCR was a think tank for upperclass and grad students, and the faculty there.. Most of the time, I "worked at" having fun and playing with essential oils and attars, as I was still a few years from discovering concretes and absolutes. As often as possible, I took the UCR bus into UCLA to visit the stacks of the library where ancient herbal books were kept, and to visit a shop in Westwood, The Magic Dragon. There, the owners would draw the shades

Anya's Garden/Anya's Garden

There is another Anya's Garden . It exists as a reading assignment in California schools, and reportedly comes from an old Indian folktale. I found it last year when I was googling the term Anya's Garden in anticipation of registering my website. It's a sweet little tale, made modern by the CA teachers and their pragmatic worksheet, which gives me a good laugh. Edited to add: If you click on the boldened phrase Anya's Garden in the first sentence you will be transferred to that site. I don't know how to make links more noticable with this template.

Narcotic, Salty, Mossy, Fruity, Smokey, Marine

The wild Fairchild just had to be.......overpowering, intoxicating, narcotic, sweet, sassy, sensual, foodie, wet, mossy, oceanic (in the *natural* sense) startling, and have long legs, like the botanical garden it represents, ancient by Miami standards, yet always renewing. Originally mostly swamp, it sits on the edge of Biscayne Bay, 80 acres of wonderland, from brakish flats to a slight escarpment with long axis views, open meadows, towering trees, the largest palm collection in the world (I think), sunken gardens, fruits, and yes, the flowers. Fairchild is not known for showy flowers, but due to demands of some of the board, designing floral displays into the garden is coming. It's the scent of the hidden flowers that gets you. The magnificent ylang ylangs, the huge pandanus (there is a Pandanus Lake there, ringed by the Screwpines), the jasmines, champakas, white and gold, the citrus... on and on. A visitor not used to the sometimes smothering effect that tropical flowers can h

Toot that Flute, Pimp that Breeze

My Pan is surprisingly gentle and universally rustic. No citified scent, this Pan. Green and herbal and fruity, he's the non-Metrosexual man/god. A nod to the base of male scent, the "in-heat", rutting or wild animal clamboring over rocks, frolicking in a field, dancing through a forest, playing the pipes, leading the ladies on his merry way. A humanized view of Pan from Jitterbug Perfume, made volatile and vaporous, softly clinging to the skin, almost too tame, in a way, but not if you recognize as Tom Robbins did, that Pan has lost a lot of his power, strength and yes, funk - in the modern world. He played musical notes that seduced and caused others to be drawn to him, and is recognized as the basis of the Pied Piper of Hamlin story. I played with aromatic notes in his honor, notes of botanicals associated with him, his woods, herbs, grapes, and flowers, and I am very happy with the green juice. This perfume for men draws you in, with the subtle pheromones of the tinct

Intro and Ideas

After many hurricanes in the past year, launching the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild , taking on several business enterprises, various health and home issues -- Anya's Garden will soon debut at The garden where perfume - naturally - flows from is the culmination of decades of botany, horticulture, perfume study and generally being a gadabout. Time out for landscape architecture, land planning, photography, journalism and whatnot, it is all very pleasing to be back to what I loved as a child - perfume. My first perfume line was launched on South Beach (Miami Beach) Florida in 1992. They were sold under the Anya's Tropical Essences name, and the simple flintglass bottles held a quarter ounce of perfumes with names like East Africa, India Wood, Riviera, Ancient Amber and Roots. Many stores in the area, and some hotels carried them. That led to private label work with hotels, and bespoke perfumes commissioned by lovers of natural aromatics. In 1991, I starte