Sunday, January 28, 2007

Perfumer and Flavorist Poll on Cropwatch v. IFRA Issue

The industry magazine Perfumer and Flavorist is running a poll until February 7th on the boycott that Cropwatch has called for against the IFRA 40th Amendment. Cropwatch is trying to get IFRA to allow discussion of the proposed amendment before it is automatically adopted. If you click on the P&F website here scroll down to the lower left corner of the page to vote. You can read more about the issues in my post Freedom to Choose, below.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Freedom to Choose -- and Use -- as Informed Consumers - STOP THE FDA GLOBALIZATION ACT OF 2008

Headline: EU Issues Plastic Bubble Pods for Everyone - Protection from Everything Guaranteed

OK, let's get serious.

First thing I must state is that no natural perfumer, or traditional perfumer I know, desires that any product they create would cause a rash, irritation, allergy or respiratory problem in the consumer. Or themselves, for that matter, since we deal with the essences every day. The user of natural aromatics, whether they are for personal or professional use just wants something that smells wonderful, puts them in a good mood, and has that deeply wonderful gestalt that only comes from nature. We also recognize that some naturals can cause problems because of their chemical makeup. They're also after some synth oils created in a lab, but I'm here to focus on the naturals, since they let a lot of the synths slid into use without proper review.

Are you a niche, boutique perfumer who uses either all natural aromatics, or, perhaps some synthetics in your perfumes? This is for both of you, even though the focus of this blog entry will focus on naturals, because they are the heart of my business. The Amendment I am protesting (see below) will make regulatory compliance a nightmare for all of us.

IFRA, the International Fragrance Association, was founded in 1973 "to represent the collective interests of the fragrance industry worldwide." One of the primary goals of IFRA is self-regulation of the industry, which is voluntary. They believe that self-regulation is the primary way to allow the industry to operate without having to address laws on a country-by-country basis, which, admittedly, could be unwieldy.

Based on scientific evidence, which many challenge on various grounds, IFRA has either prohibited, restricted or allowed numerous aromatics, both natural and synthetic to be classified by their Standards. Each year, more and more aromatics are added to the list of prohibited or restricted.

Let's talk common sense for a minute. The EU (European Union) legislators have gone hog wild with taking up the cause of IFRA, making many of the previously-self-regulated aromatics verboten by passing laws (in direct opposition of IFRAs original goal.) The EU has been criticized for regulating many wonderful food and fragrance items out of existance.

Their need to be Big Brother, the womb-to-tomb Protector of Everyone to the point of, in a fantasy, placing everyone inside a plastic bubble so that no pollen, fragrance, raw milk product or other "suspect" product causes damage to poor little you, you, simple uneducated citizen, you who are unable to make a decision for yourself as to what goes in your body or on your skin.

Several venerable perfume houses have announced that they've reformulated their classic parfums to comply with EU regs. What a travesty. That is destroying a work of art. Why not just sell the perfume with a warning tag, much like we see on cigarettes, alcohol, food that contains possible allergens, etc? Why the wholesale banning? We are not children, we are able to make decisions for ourselves, and if we wish to tempt a rash to rise on our skin, that's our choice.

As a natural perfumer, I am concerned that they will try to legislate the natural essences so that a license is needed, or a prescription in the case of an aromatherapy product. Why focus on naturals so much, while allowing so many synthetic fragrances to go to market untested? There is something very, very skewed about all this.

From the online petition site put up by Tony Burfield, who has led the fight against the proposed 40th Amendment:

We the undersigned petitioners oppose the 40th IFRA Amendment to its CoP, the unecessary red tape it will create, and the other widespread negative implications for all natural aromatics/essential oil users, across a range of professions. We will strongly object to any subsequent adoption of the Amendment into the EU regulatory process. and we request that IFRA reconsider ther position, preferably by debate with all affected parties.

Tony Burfield of has taken up this fight for many years. Based in the UK, Tony is a perfume chemist and activist, looking out for issues related to the natural aromatics trade, including regulatory issues, sustainability of natural resources among others. He managed to put a large, sharp pin in the side of IFRA last week, causing them to issue their first-ever press release on the subject of unfair bais towards naturals.

Tony called for a boycott of IFRA. A major industry website carried an article on the issue. Allured Publishing, the major flavor and fragrance industry publisher in the world, is conducting a poll on its Perfumer and Flavorist magazine website, the results to be announced on February 7th. Scroll down to the lower left corner to see the poll.

Here is the original call for a boycott: which covers many more details that can be covered in this blog.

Here's Tony's latest statement, with the link to where you can sign the petition:

At last we have a petition up - protesting against the 40th IFRA amendment and its implications for all natural aromatics/essential oil users.

This isn't really just about Cropwatch, its about taking a stand against one of the prime movers (IFRA) in a regulatory process, which (intentionally or otherwise), is slowly phasing out the use of natural materials in favour of synthetics in cosmetics/fragrances. We can see a similar process going on - the phasing out of natural aromatic materials - in many other areas - biocides, over-the-counter medicines, household products etc. etc.

Please, please, please .... help us by signing this petition. (click on)

A good showing here in particular can help us enormously by proving that David (us) can triumph over Goliath (the Corporates). A bad showing means that we can be dismissed by the authorities as insignificant.

Please help us by spreading the word on this petition to as many groups and individuals as possible.



Anya again:
I'll be writing a FAQ on this issue within the next week, and Robert Tisserand, the noted author and scholar on essential oils, aromatherapy and safety issues - he literally wrote The Book on this -- is writing the Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild Position Paper on it.

In the's a partial list of natural oils restricted or limited by IFRA and the EU, and many more are in the pipeline, victims of over-regulation, Big Brotherism, and lack of labeling and common sense:

Angelica root oil
Bergamot oil expressed
Bitter Orange Peel Oil Expressed
Cade oil
Cedar moss
Chenopodium oil
Citrus oils and other furocoumarins containing essential oils
Costus root oil, absolute and concrete
Cumin oil
Fig leaf absolute
Grapefruit oil expressed
Lemon oil cold pressed
Lime oil expressed
Massoia bark oil
Massoia lactone
Melissa oil (genuine Melissa officinalis)
Oak moss extracts
Peru balsam
Petitgrain Mandarin Oil
Rose oil
Santolina oil
Savin oil
Tagetes oil and absolute
Tea leaf absolute
Tree moss extracts
Verbena absolute
Verbena oil
and many more are under scrutiny.

When I originally formed this blog entry in my mind, I wanted to use the David v.Goliath image, but thought better of it. I'm going to take a more peaceful route and just share that I feel a "New Dawn" is coming, and here's an image of the lovely "New Dawn" rose, climbing upwards, supported, a nice image:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Pricing - A Cautionary Tale

Ahhhh...the smell of money. As intoxicating and seductive as a gorgeous natural perfume....but....your business skills have to match your blending skills, and your PR skills may also be called upon if you're caught with your pants down, and your bottom line down even further due to bad planning.

Pricing your product is a tricky business, and
you have to take many current and future variables into account:

Rent & Overhead
Contract Manufacturing
FICA, taxes
etc., etc.

So many homegrown businesses start to fail when
they start to grow because the owner didn't
factor all of the above, plus some I've forgotten
to list because I'm jotting this message down in
between many errands today, so, basically, their success kills the business.

Many of us won't reveal how we arrive at our
price point. It's just too complicated, too
personal. If you're really serious, and you wish
for your business to grow beyond microbusiness
size, you have to be realistic, and I'd advise seeing an accountant. Early on.

This message comes from a very public, very
heated debate going on in the perfume forum world that eruped a few days before the end of the year. A well-respected niche perfumer (not a natural perfumer) had to raise the price of one of his most beloved perfumes 100% overnight. He realized that even though he used Excel spreadsheets, he had vastly underestimated the cost of production and distribution, among other factors.

The debate was quite heated on several forums.
True, it is a small handful of folks who are making a big stink over it, but
thousands read these forums, and mostly don't comment. They're there, though.

We all who know this man and know the business know
he made a strategic error in correcting a
problem, and it's very public, which has an
"ouch" factor to it. We who know him feel that
this is hurting him on a very personal level, as
he is a thoughtful, sweet, kind person. I feel
very sorry for him, and wish there could have
been a better way that he could have handled
this. In hindsight, I'm sure he feels the same way!

Many artisan natural perfumers state that they
want to make their perfumes affordable, and the
bottom line is we all want our perfumes to be
affordable, but they're fooling themselves by
pricing their juice low.

I don't care if they buy
the 30 bottles from Sunburst to keep costs down
(btw, stuff from Brosse of Pouchet can be had for
$3 - $8, so it's not an elitist move to use them)
handwrite the labels, bottle and pack and ship
everything themselves, they MUST build in the
cushion factor. Don't, and you may be doomed.
I've heard of many soap and toiletry makers that
have folded their businesses over this.

If the fevered backlash can sting him, a very
well-liked and respected perfumer on those
forums, it can happen to you. Perhaps if you're
not as well-known as him, if your business
hasn't grown as fast, you're not well-known in
the blog and forum world, you won't get fierce
feedback. But if you're not known in the blog and
forum world, your business probably didn't grow
as fast as his anyway, that's just reality. He
blogged, moved around the forums, made friends
and customers there, and his misstep is very
public. Yes, you may survive it if it happens to
you, as I'm sure he will, but the hassle and
the criticism will linger in many's minds.

My advice is be prepared, get your business
finances in order first, and avoid this kind of problem.

Otherwise, your customers might think you're a stinker.