Pouring kilos

I poured the kilos of low atranol oakmoss and labdanum a couple days ago; the oakmoss needs to be gently warmed in a water bath to make it pourable, so the room was moss scented for a few hours. Now I need to try diluting it to achieve the same scent level as the previous moss I was using so that I can substitute in formulas. It’ll take some trial and error to find the equivalent dilution rate. The mimosa absolute is hard as a rock and needs much more heating before it can be mixed into alcohol. The fragrance is great though; I love the soft sueded leather note it has.

Things have been really busy around here so I haven’t done any work on new scents the last few days. Lieu de Reves is done, and for those following testers the formula will be 29E. I’m still testing Tabac but really like what I have now.

The first daffodil of the season bloomed today. 🙂 They are popping up all over the garden and are the only cheerful-looking things out there right now. I like the scent of daffodils; they aren’t something you’d really think of for scent, but they have a light fragrance that says spring is around the corner.

Testing, testing…

I’ve been testing Tabac, Reves, and Gardenia mods, and just to give my nose something different I’ve periodically tried a few of the samples I broke down and ordered a week ago. Manoumalia sounded right up my alley and it is! I love floral notes combined with interesting woodsy bases, and this one is unique in taking that approach with a tropical floral blend. Many tropical white floral scents are too sweet and coconut-rich for me (Montale Intense Tiare, for example) so it’s fun to find one with a woodsy approach. I really like the vetiver note in the base and find it to be an unusual and striking pairing with the tropical white floral heart.

Also tried Indult Reve en Cuir and for me it has plenty of leather (some have said they find the leather note too weak). I get a lot of spice from it, probably more than most people have reported. I like it, though my favorite leather I’ve ever tried is the beautiful classic Hermès Doblis (I received a sample from a very sweet person and treasure it).

I think Tabac Aurea and Lie de Reves will be ready soon. Reves is probably done (#29E) and Tabac is close, I think. Gardenia still has me in knots. I know what I’d like, though I can’t point to an example of one. My favorite gardenias have more tuberose than I’d hoped to put in this (I like EL Tuberose Gardenia), but I was hoping for a creamier jasmine-rich gardenia without going sweet or soapy. I’d like a nice musk base with just a hint of wood, and a little green for freshness. I don’t want a vanillic base, though I do want some creaminess. So far I can get starts or finishes I like, but not a cohesive trip from beginning to end, except for some early trials that were too soft. I’ll keep working on it and keep pondering.

Mid-week This and That

I thought this was an interesting comment in the latest Perfumer & Flavorist, saying that in these times of economic hardship people may start to favor richer, more potent scents:

“The [financial downturn] could also affect the way we create fragrances. In times of crisis, people tend to go back to basics. If we examine the example of the 1929 depression (knowing it will not be the same this time), we went into the 1930s with darker fragrances that were rich and deep (Vol de Nuit and Taboo). We will probably go in the same direction again. If you have money to buy only one perfume, you want it to be luxurious and rich, but also darker because your mood is darker. There will probably be more parfums and extraits (as opposed to simple eau de toilettes) for the same reasons.”

From Fragrances for Troubled Times by: Pierre Gueros, Delphine Jelk and Kevin Verspoor, drom, January 16, 2009. The complete article can be found here:


I should be adding Lieu de Reves and Tabac Aurea to the scent list soon.  I’m collecting feedback from testers now, and it’s exciting to be getting close to being done with those two. 

Still need to get into my new oakmoss and other naturals that arrived recently.  Hope to do that this weekend.  Some of my Dad’s cousins from Sweden will be visiting tomorrow (my grandparents on my Dad’s side were both Swedish).

Update on New Scents

I’ve narrowed down Lieu de Reves to two variations that differ just in three ingredients, and I’m getting feedback to help me choose. I’m leaning toward one and need to see if others agree.

I’m still working on Tabac Aurea, and I finally got Gardenia Musk back out after putting it away for over a month. Now that Reves is about done I wanted to start on gardenia again. It was good to have some time off from it and approach it fresh. The last thing I’d done was to take out a very sweet musk and put in a clean, less sweet musk. I still think that works well, but I added another musk that’s also less sweet but will add more body. Also added another item that has a very soft fresh green note that lasts well. Many green notes either don’t last or feel too harsh or ozonic to me, so I’m always happy to find more that are subdued and lasting. It really helps a lot in this soft floral blend. I have more work to do on this though.

Still not done with the paperwork because I’ve been bad and worked on scents instead, as well as keeping the orders flowing out. It’s been really weird warm winter weather in CA for over a week now; we’ve had days up to 74 degrees (places in southern CA have been even warmer). The daffodils are shooting up!

Low Atranol Oakmoss

I just got my delivery of kilos from France with mimosa absolute, more labdanum, and a new low atranol oakmoss. Some kilos are hard to open, at least with my lousy wrists, so my kind Dad is in charge of opening evil kilo containers; I need to have him stop by to help with these.

Researchers have found that atranol and chloroatranol are the main allergens in oakmoss, so a method has been developed recently for removing them from natural oakmoss. The resulting product is not quite the same as regular moss, but it smells very good and is very close to regular moss. There’s absolutely no comparison between the low atranol moss and the awful synthetic substitutes for oakmoss; the synthetics are not even close to real moss. I’ll be switching from regular oakmoss to the low atranol version in all my formulas. This may cause very slight differences in scent when I make the change, but it will be so subtle I don’t think most people will even notice.

I hope that this will prove to be one solution to the oakmoss issue. It’d be great if IFRA would restate the restrictions in terms of allowed % atranol instead of allowed % oakmoss/treemoss. We’ll see how it all works out with time and further research. If you want to sample the new low atranol moss, Eden Botanicals carries it and sells samples.

I’m excited about the mimosa absolute too; it’s very pretty stuff and I’ve never had enough of it before to use in a scent for the website (just enough for personal projects).

I just finished 2008 sales tax forms and will get back to inventory. I’m about half way on that project; the shelves are looking much more organized!

I’m ready to send out a couple testers of Tabac Aurea and am still hoping to bring out Reves and Tabac before long.

Edited to add: I’ve been using regular oakmoss in all my formulas because I do not like the synthetic substitutes. I’ve been using low amounts of it (IFRA has not banned oakmoss, just restricted it to very low amounts). Many companies stopped using it completely though because of the allergen issue. This new low atranol version may help perfumers use oakmoss again if it becomes established as a viable alternative.

Tabac Aurea

I thought it was time to mention the other new scent in the pipeline besides Lieu de Reves: I’ve been working on a unisex woodsy amber scent with a tabac note that I’ve named Tabac Aurea. I’ve been migrating towards a golden amber woods with it, and it’s just starting to settle into something I’m excited about. I’ve had some nice heart notes in it for some time, but I’ve been experimenting with several approaches and sometimes those offshoots lead to dead ends. The latest path has me in the right direction though. The notes are sandalwood, cedar, tabac, vetiver, patchouli, cinnamon, clove, tonka, amber, labdanum, leather, vanilla, and musk.

I work on new scents in between orders, so I grab whatever hours I can get. Sometimes I work too many hours in a row on blending to try to fit in as much as I can before the next batch of orders comes in, and then my nose gets tired to the point where it’s best to put it away for a day or two. When I return to it later I can see what I actually have, lol. So I’ll put this down for a few days now and get back to the inventory, but I’m excited about this one.

As long as I have to do inventory, I’m reorganizing the cupboards of bottles in the workroom. I have this silly notion that if I organize and then write down a list of what is on each shelf that’ll make it easier to find what I’m looking for. We’ll see how long it stays organized as new stuff keeps coming in, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Here’s an interesting interview with Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne that covers some business questions I’ve not seen asked before. It also says her best-selling scent is Isfarkand. I love the Ormonde woman and man scents but haven’t tried Isfarkand so I’ll have to add it to my sniff list.


Happy Friday! 🙂

The January Paperwork Blues

The first week or two in January much of my time is spent updating the books for the previous year, catching up from getting behind in Nov/Dec, and doing inventory. Each year it runs longer than I’d hoped, and as usual I’m still in the thick of it.

I took a break this evening to do a few more quick mods on the new unisex woodsy scent. I’m trying to make this smooth and dry enough, but still have that juicy character that keeps things interesting and helps add life to a blend. I’ll give these a sniff in the morning and will say more about this scent before too long.

I got to try Chanel’s Pour Monsieur shortly before Christmas and really liked it. It’s beautiful and classic with some yummy soft spices (I love cardamom notes). Although the drydown was light, it lasted many hours for me. The citrus topnotes are nicely done too. I’ll have to try it again.

It’s been very cold and frosty here at night the last week or so. Time to cut back all the perennials in the garden that have died back for the year. I still have paperwhites blooming; they’re surviving the frosty mornings since they have a little protection near the house.

Tomorrow it’s back to the paperwork after getting the orders out for the day…

International Shipping Added to Shopping Cart

I just added a shipping calculation to the shopping cart to allow most international customers to order via the shopping cart rather than requiring a PayPal invoice. All customers at check-out now need to choose the USA or international option depending on their address and then click recalculate to display the shipping charge, which is slightly higher for international destinations. If you are a first-time international customer it’s best to email us first to verify we can ship to your country, but returning customers can just choose international now and go through the regular shopping cart without emailing first.

I’ll try this for a while and see how it goes. It’ll make ordering easier for international customers, but if it is confusing for USA customers to find the little box to select USA shipping, I can always set it back the old way. This will save me some time making invoices though, and will help returning international customers place a quicker, easier order. I wanted to mention it here so people don’t see the zero shipping charge in the cart and get confused; you now have to pick USA or international and click recalculate before your shipping charge is shown.

I’m really busy trying to finish the 2008 bookkeeping, set up a better bookkeeping system for 2009, finish the new blends, and keep up with orders. Lieu de Reves is probably done (I’m just waiting to hear back from a few more testers, but it’s getting thumbs up so far and I like it a lot too).