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 project unfinished, all start and no follow through? You can't be like that and be a perfumer. First, the study. It's tedious. Carles Method. Mandy Aftel's workbook, school at the French companies, or in NYC. All tedium. Then, one day, the light bulb goes on -- and the tedium has turned into the ability to reach for the right bottle, the formula dancing in your head, the ability to see how the odor intensity and dry down time and interactions of the raw materials will all *work*.
Tedium is necessary to manifest Creation, there is no shortcut. I learned all about this in my previous profession, landscape architecture, where we had to constantly work on our lettering and graphic arts skills to be able to illustrate our maps and drawings. If your lettering or layout were sloppy, the message got lost. Many balked at this: we were adept at the mechanics and engineering and design, why did we have to know how to "make it pretty" for the clients and/or public to review? So we could communicate, of course. Perfumers, oddly enough, can't just "make it pretty."
We have to know how to "construct" a perfume as well as a landscape architect knows how to grade a hillside. Too many errors and it all slides downhill into a muddy heap. In many ways, LA is similar to NP: the right and left sides of the brain must be engaged, imagination must be full-bore and fluid, you must know the "bones" of the profession to "construct", and you have to be willing and able to put your product out there for criticism and feedback in the public arena.
Second Phase Tedium, LOL: All the math, blending, mods, filtering, sourcing of bottles, labeling, filling those damn little sample vials, mailing labels, figuring out shopping carts (not done yet!), etc. etc. We're all home based, one person outfits (mostly), and it is all on our shoulders, but again, that passion kicks in, and keeps us up late working on the Tedium end of things.
Then you send the samples out, and the lovely orders and feedback happens. The Rewards aren't measured in just money, of course; hopefully you'll recoup and make a profit, after all the years of work. I first sold my natural perfumes in 1991, and it was so much easier then. I filled 1/4 oz bottles, sold them on South Beach, got private label contracts, created bespoke perfumes, and that was pretty much it until last August, when my contracts ended (at my request) so I could launch Anya's Garden. Who knew Katrina would blow in Aug 28th, and while recovering from that, Wilma in October?
The Tedium of recovering from those hurricanes kept the launch on hold until July 31st, 2006. Now, I'm harvesting the Rewards ;-) The Reward feedback comes from buyers who phone and write me with their "visions" of what I'm trying to convey in the perfumes. One picked out the sunny, warm heart of Fairchild, towards late afternoon, when the grass has been cut in the tropics. One fellow said he felt like he was on a tropical beach at dusk (when the ambergris and oakmoss and sheer saltiness revealed themselves fully). Another felt the Pan opening note had a sweet brown sugar aspect that mirrored the taming of the GoatGod. Another commented on how the hot rocks and steamy labdanum mingled with goat hair. A perfume critic said he "liked them all", picking up different aspects of each one to focus on, the top of one, the heart of another, the base of another - pretty good, since he's not known for his admiration of natural perfumes ;-) Today, I found well-respected "mainstream, yet niche" perfumer Andy Tauer reviewed my PAN, glowingly. Lovely Rewards.
UPDATE: Links to reviews of Pan Tauer Perfumes and Indie Perfumes
Samples are available at Anya's Garden of Natural Perfume