Turn-around time

I’ve had quite a few orders this week so turn-around is just a bit longer than usual. Most orders that come in today will ship Monday or Tuesday. Orders from Wed/Thurs are going out today and Saturday. Turn-around is currently about 2-3 days. People seem to want florals right now as an antidote to winter, though Tabac Aurea is still the leader.

My high speed internet connection came back up but may go out again now that we have new storms this evening (it is pouring again at the moment). After our service was out for nearly two weeks, I received a letter yesterday from them saying our monthly fee is going up by $8 to about $65 per month. Interesting timing, lol, given how long we were just without service. At least we are back up for now and I can get some things done online again. Such an improvement!

I’m still trying to make one tester a day of ET to try, and I do like it better with a bit less musk and guaiac. I need to do a new tester for Bouquet Blanche.

Rainy winter update

New Scents: The last ET tester, labeled 1-16-1, has too much cistus in it because I had tried increasing that when I decreased the musk. The cistus got too heavy so I am putting it back to the way it was in the previous tester, which was labeled 12-30-4. I’m trying less musk in that version though, and possibly less guaicwood too because when I decrease musk the guaiac seems to come out too much. I’m doing more testing and adjusting before sending out any more samples. The good news is that my orris should be in next week so I will be ready to start making batches as soon as the formula is done. I’ve been busy with orders and haven’t been able to get back to Bouquet Blanche yet, but I did get out bottles of the green notes I’ve been contemplating as additions to it and am doing some sniffing and thinking.

Bottles: I’ve ordered the new one ounce bottles and am excited about that. They will have the permanent crimp style sprayers and that introduces some challenges, but I think the trade-off is worth it. I already offer half oz and 5 ml bottles for those who want small, economical decant sizes or splash caps so most people really don’t need to decant my scents, and I could offer TPP and TPC special Boston round packaging for their decanting if they prefer that to crimped bottles. The screw cap bottles are just not as high quality as most crimp style bottles and I really want to upgrade for the larger bottles. These new bottles are much better made, with heftier and prettier glass, nice edge details, and the ability to take a shorter, nicer spray pump. There’s just no comparison. I’ll be getting a small hand-operated machine to help put on the pumps. It’s hard to find bottles in the 1 oz size because the standard for so long has been 1.7 oz or 3.4 oz, so I felt lucky to find these. I’ve noticed a trend towards smaller sizes in stores though, so maybe the 1 ounce will become easier for perfumers to get as time goes by. I hope people like these bottles as much as I do! I think it’s the right thing to do.

A Lesson in Non-Customer Relations: I’ve been stuck on dial-up internet service for most of the last 10 days because our high-speed provider, whose transmitting tower is located at the top of a nearby mountain, frequently suffers power outages and equipment damage in the winter. We have no DSL or cable available where I live because our population density is too low to make it worth the cost of running lines to us. The only options are dial-up, or a satellite company with high monthly fees and many complaints against it, or this service that offers a broadcast from an antenna on the mountain. Today I inquired about the status of the repair since it has been over a week now, and I was told we should feel lucky to get any service at all in the winter because the environment is so tough on the mountain. I did not say any of the things that came to mind because I know they are doing their best, but goodness that’s not an appropriate thing to say to a customer who is paying $56 per month for an internet service that can’t seem to be provided as promised. I sure don’t tell someone they should feel lucky to get their packages in the winter, lol, because USPS has a hard time delivering in storms. And when I signed up for this service they did not say “by the way your service will go out a lot in the winter, ” but instead they advertised their fast connection speeds. They do not offer any break in charges when they cannot provide service for periods of over a week, though I guess that would be a nightmare in paperwork. There are worse things in life than being temporarily stuck on dial-up and I’m very thankful to have the back-up access, but it makes tasks like printing shipping labels take ten times as long and sure gets tiresome.

On the up-side, the sun came out for a few hours this afternoon and it was nice to see some blue sky! We’ve had so much rain that we are very soggy here, though I’m up on a hilltop out of flood danger. I have some fun new samples to sniff and will get into more of those soon, but I’m concentrating on ET and BB for now.

Quick update

It’s been a busy week! I sent some ET testers out and still have more I need to send. If all goes well I’ll put samples of ET back on the site first, and then I’ll add bottles about a week after that. I want to wait for feedback to come in though to be sure my last tweaks work well for people.

I’m returning to Bouquet Blanche tomorrow after I catch up with orders. I can work on BB while waiting for the scoop on ET. It will be great to get both on the site. I’d really like BB to be done before spring.

Several years ago I had found some one ounce bottles that I loved but I couldn’t come up with pumps (sprayers) for them. I seem to have solved that problem, finally, and want to switch bottles. These are very nice glass in a classic style and are quite pretty. I’m in the process of ordering and will have to wait 2-3 months, but it’s worth waiting for them. I’ve not solved the half oz issue. The smaller bottles I have work fine, but they tend to have sprayers that lean slightly and I’ve not found anything else without the same issue. I’ll keep looking but probably won’t find an answer anytime soon. I think the smaller bottles will be for those who want less juice and don’t mind an economical bottle, and the larger ones will be very pretty for those who want to spend a bit more and get a larger size. For those who want small size in an attractive portable package, the purse sprays fit the bill. But if I ever spot an improvement on the half oz I’ll grab it.

We’ve had a long week of rain, but so far no major flooding. I’m on a hilltop so I’m ok, but the folks who live by the river are the ones at risk when we get these long chains of storms day after day.

Winter storms and power outages

We’re having major rain and lightning storms, and my high-speed internet has been out for over 24 hours now. I’m stuck on dial-up until power is restored to my high-speed provider’s service on the nearby mountain. Dial-up makes everything very slow. I was able to ship all packages today but one, which could not ship because the post office’s power went out this afternoon and they could not process international packages through customs with their computers down. The other packages were all USA with pre-paid shipping labels I’d done so they were able to ship out today.

Our power is ok where I am but all around us people are having lots of outages. We had an impressive lightning and thunder show last night. I’m hoping this will ease up soon, but it sounds like we have a few more days of storms.

I sent a couple ET testers out and will try to get more out this week.

Link to interesting column on NST today

Angela’s column today on NST resonated with me because no one else in my family or local circle of friends is much interested in fragrance (though they are supportive), and here in my area perfume is more often feared than appreciated. People become interested in the ingredients and process once they get over the initial hesitant reaction from their associations with overdosed strong mass market scents that they have suffered through in public places. Once they learn that not all perfume needs to project for feet around the wearer, they become much more curious to sniff and experiment. Anyway, I thought the column makes some good points and is a fun quick read.

Weekend progress

I worked on ET a bit more and have a new tester to send. I decided to decrease the musk, increase the cistus (and decrease labdanum proportionately), and increase orris. I also put the elemi back in but am open to going either way on that (I like it both with and without). I think ET will be better with just a trace of musk because there will be less risk of musk anosmia/sensitivity problems, and since this scent is so high in naturals it may be best to avoid the synth musk. ET does still have some muskiness from the labdanum and angelica root.

When I cut the musk I increased the cistus because it helped add some oomph that was lost with the musk absence. I love the cistus, but I’ll need a few testers to try this and be sure I’m not the only one to love it, lol. This special cistus fraction is quite incensy so it fits very well into ET, and I think it is nicer to divide the labdanum part of the old ET this way into both labdanum and cistus. I think it adds a lot to the scent.

I will try one more trial Monday with another cistus level in between the first and this last, and when I have a favorite I’ll send a few more testers. There were two people who really loved the original ET and wanted to test the new one but did not get a tester yet because I wanted to wait until I’d made more adjustments. It’s time to get a sample to them too (I’ve not forgotten you!).

Also did my e-file of sales taxes for 2009 (yay!) since that’s due at the end of this month. And I’ve made exciting progress on the bottle issue but still have more details to work out. I’m hoping this will happen. I can say more when things are farther along.

I’m keeping up with orders but will be out in the morning Monday for an appointment. It is a mail holiday, but orders will start to ship again on Tuesday.

Link to IFRA news, and Ambre Noir in stock again

A post today on the blog Grain de Musc discusses new developments in the IFRA story. Guerlain’s in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser and Dior perfumer François Demachy were quoted in the January 13 edition of France’s Le Monde newspaper about the difficulties of maintaining their beautiful historical fragrances under IFRA rulings. These public statements might be a sign that people in the industry are starting to speak up and thus offers some hope. Perhaps all the attention given to this issue by the perfume community has helped. A discussion is also taking place on the blog Now Smell This.

I’m over my cold and we have a beautiful sunny morning today. After I finish the day’s orders I plan to work on ET. I’m trying a little less musk, adding the touch of elemi back in, and increasing the orris, which has been quite subtle in previous mods. These final trials always take a bit of time just to see the effects of changing the dose of the minor players. I want the frankincense and sandalwood to remain the most prominent notes and these trials are minor differences just to be sure I check all the options.

Also wanted to say Ambre Noir is back in stock (the same formula as before).

Scent Update

I’m just about totally over my cold and am able to sniff and evaluate again today, and that feels great. I made a batch of Ambre Noir a few days ago and if all goes well I’ll filter that tomorrow and put it back on the site (the original formula). I’m working on a different ambery scent to highlight the new cistus, but I won’t change Ambre Noir at this time. When I first received the cistus I thought it might make a nice addition to Ambre Noir, but after experimenting I decided it was getting too far afield and would be better as a new scent.

I’m getting good feedback on the ET trial reformulation version and am just waiting to hear from the rest of the testers. I’m still trying a few more tweaks for my own curiosity, but so far I’m liking the formula best as it is. Although the reformulation is quite different from the original, I’d like to leave the name the same because I can’t do the original version anymore (since I have to change the moss and labdanum) and because the scent still does feature frankincense as the main note with a base rich in sandalwood and labdanum/cistus.

I’ll get back to Bouquet Blanche as soon as I can. Very happy to have clear sniffing again!

Missing my sniffing!

I thought I’d be back to normal sniffing capacity by this weekend, but I’m still stuffy enough to have to put off the blending and evaluating work for now. This cold isn’t very bad but it’s just lingering enough to be annoying, especially since I depend on having a clear nose. I’m really spoiled though because I never have sinus or allergy issues and rarely get sick (this is my first cold in years). I’ll just need to be patient a bit longer. In addition to my own blending trials that await evaluation, I received some fun samples to test and can’t wait to try them.

I’m keeping up with orders (Tabac Aurea, Winter Woods, and Fireside Intense are keeping me busy!) and made some progress on the bottle issues. I have some new bottle samples coming and will see if anything looks like an improvement. If so, I can post photos for comments. I also need to finish new batches of a couple things that I’m low on, and then get a new batch of Ambre Noir back on the site. I’ll post here when the Ambre is ready to go.

Gray and drizzly here today. The paperwhites are just starting to bloom though. They come back each year and just one is enough to scent a whole room — powerful little flowers!

Getting into the swing of things after the holidays…

I’m still working on end-of-year paperwork in between orders, and I’m sending out some testers of the new ET reformulation. I decided to keep Ambre Noir the same and will be restocking it on the site soon. The Encens Tranquille formula needs to change though because the moss needs to be updated, and I actually prefer the new version. I’ll see what testers think. I narrowed it down to the version with a small touch of vanilla but no elemi, so the notes list reads like this: frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, cedar, ambergris, labdanum, cistus, angelica root, guaiacwood, orris, oakmoss, patchouli, vanilla, musk. It’s still a woodsy, resinous incense scent with lots of frankincense, but to me it is smoother than the original.

Many of my suppliers are closed for inventory counting until Thursday so I’m still waiting to talk with my bottle supplier about finding a new shape for the half oz. I spotted a couple other half oz options that look possible and will just need to see if they are any less prone to the leaning neck issue. And I’m still waiting for some kilos of oils from France to ship, but I hope to have them by the end of this month.

My cold isn’t too bad but present enough to make it impossible to blend for a few more days. I can’t wait to get back to normal sniffing. I did get to have a nice visit with family over new year’s weekend though.

I forgot to mention my favorite high-tech purchase of 2009 in my “best of” post a few days ago: a Transcend Storejet backup hard drive. My very old backup drive died a few months ago so I got this new one, and wow have they advanced in technology over the last 8 years! It’s palm sized, has lots more storage space, and doesn’t take very long to back up my files. It plugs in via usb and requires no other power source the way the old one did. So far I’m really happy with it. I picked it after a quick scan of cnet reviews so I’m glad it worked out.

I’ll post an update on ET when I hear some feedback. I’ll be sending out more testers — just getting started on sending them out.