September news: Jasmine & Tuberose

How time flies!  In our last post, we spoke about the roses of May, one of the important ‘Fleurs d’Exception‘ that make Grasse famous.  Now here we are already in September, the season of the Tuberose, and since last month until sometime in October, (depending on the weather), it is also the season of the Jasmine grandiflorum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Polianthes tuberosa- Tuberose blossoms

These are all highly fragrant flowers, and are used extensively in the fine fragrance industry.  They are considered ‘noble’ raw materials.

These flowers, amongst others,  are still produced in the Grasse region (the Pays de Grasse), and are often picked by teams of Gypsy (Gitane, Roma) women, who arrive early every morning at the farms to pick only the flowers that are newly opened.  For the rose and jasmine, this means every single morning throughout the blooming period. I have picked with these women, and they joke that only they are willing to do this hard work.  They laugh and tell me that the French are not willing to work so hard.  The pickers are paid per kilo, and to give an example, it takes about 800kg of jasmine blossoms to make 1 kilo of absolute- each blossom delicately picked by hand in the early morning before the sun gets too high or too hot.

For the extraction, all is done by solvent (hexane) extraction, to produce a waxy concrete, followed by an alcohol wash, which is then vacuum distilled off, to yield the final purified absolute.   In Bulgaria and Turkey, roses are also steam distilled to yield the precious essential oil, but Grasse is producing for the perfume industry, so absolutes are the most economical and complete extracts.

Next post I will talk about the art of grafting… something that is a big part of the rose and jasmine plants of Grasse.

In other news:  as you know, I have been developing a new collection of fragrances for 1000 Flowers.  Of course, being an independent artisan company, that means wearing the hat for all stages of creation and production.   Even the graphic design is all my own work, since design is my secondary passion, behind perfume creation itself.   So in the lab, in the middle of the old city of Grasse, all stages of the Blue Collection are being developed and refined.

We first spoke about this almost 10 months ago.  At the time, I had become a client of the amazing Biolandes for some of our key natural raw materials for the collection, and had anticipated launching the collection in May.   However, I made the mistake of trying to work with local printing companies for the labels, and, very long story short, lost the whole summer and several hundred euros in being run-around by one local company in particular.  I have learned a very valuable lesson: in France, if you are a small company, working on a shoestring, you will not be taken seriously.    Sadly, the concept of ‘starting small’ is not yet respected or understood here, as it is in Canada or the UK.   In the end, I had to go to the UK for my labels, and these are expected to arrive next week.

The advantage to these delays, is that I have revisited the perfume formulae many times, and as the samples mature, I see what small changes can be made, and how to improve them.  So I suppose, it’s for the best that the project has taken longer than anticipated to realize.  Art can’t be rushed.  🙂 

In conclusion, to be a good perfumer, as much as it is very romantic,  is not at all an easy path. It is an exceptionally challenging career, and one that takes an amazing amount of work and sacrifice and perseverance, where one NEVER stops learning and improving.  Sometimes I question having given up everything to be where I am now.   But then I open my cupboard of pure materials, and bring out the precious naturals from the fridge, and dive back into a creation, and realize there is nothing else I would rather be doing…

in-the-lab

Roses of May

The beautiful month of May is the season of the Rose in the Grasse region of the south of France.  In the fields of roses, which still exist in the region around the old perfume city, the pickers go out every morning throughout the short season, and harvest the open blossoms.  These are then taken to the factories where primarily solvent extraction takes place to yield the concrete, and then the absolute of rose.  The Rose de Mai is traditionally the Rosa centifolia variety, but there is also some production of Rosa damascena in the area.   In the new collection of perfumes soon to be announced from 1000 Flowers,  we will be featuring an organic Rosa damascena extract sourced from a small producer near Grasse.

In the meantime, here is a lovely report from French TV about the current season of roses.

http://www.wat.tv/embedframe/194453chuPP3r13000083

 

Spring in Grasse

It’s once again Spring in the south of France.   This year, the various seasonal flowers (such as mimosa)  were all blooming and finishing their blooming cycle about 1 month earlier than usual.  We really didn’t have much of a winter, and the cold part of the season actually happened in March.

However, here we are 2 days before my birthday, and the flowers that always mark this day for me, are opening now, right on cue.  These are the fragrant and graceful purple wisteria with the first roses, that cover many garden walls, and fences, and arbours of the region.  And at the same time, the intoxicating spring jasmine is also now in bloom, tumbling over walls and fences.  So all is well in the world.

Otherwise, as I have written in recent posts, I have been working for the last several months on the new collection of 4 fragrances called The Blue Collection.  These are taking longer than I anticipated, as I am determined that they will be as close to perfection as I can possibly make them.  This said, as an independent perfumer, working alone in my little lab in Grasse, like the perfume days of the past, 4 great perfumes take longer than 4 weeks to create.   But we are almost there, and have now connected with some amazing designers and printers in Croatia, (ask me for contacts if you are looking for this kind of service), and the labels will go to print next week.  The ribbon must be ordered, and the outer boxes modified and prepped.  And then…. FINALLY, we will launch.   I will keep you posted.

In other news:  we have just launched a travel-size spray (8ml) for the 5 original fragrances, including of course, Reglisse Noire, and they are available in the 1000 Flowers boutique as of today.  They retail for 22CAD each (plus minimal shipping since they are light and compact).  This is a great way to try the fragrances, but also as a purse/pocket travel format, since they are refillable as well.

Also, all 1000 Flowers fragrances are now made with  100% certified organic alcohol.

So, that’s all for now!  Life as an expat perfumer living in Grasse continues!  Please don’t hesitate to write to me if you have any ideas, questions, suggestions comments etc.  I feel far away from my native land and all my wonderful clients sometimes, hidden away in my atelier, so it’s always nice to have some news.

Happy Spring!

Violets in the Wild

Going Mobile at 1000 Flowers

Happy November everyone!    After a lot of work and a big learning curve, we have just beta launched the new site for 1000 Flowers, and it is now mobile friendly!

30ml set

In 2010, when I was last in Canada, I attended a number of small business training courses to deepen my knowledge of the Adobe design programs, and also of web design.  Our amazing teacher told us then how mobile capability was going to be one of the most important things for successful online business.  And one can see how digital life has changed in general just in that 5 years since.  Everyone is mobile, either by phone or tablet, and the home PC is now being used less and less.  I have also seen several longtime dedicated bloggers discontinuing their work, since amongst other reasons, the mobile readers are less likely to follow a full length blog entry than the short little blurbs on Instagram or other more mobile friendly, fast-paced platforms.  Also, people have definitely become more comfortable and confident shopping from their mobiles.  So we are very happy to have joined the mobile world with 1000 Flowers! (SITE)

You will see a few changes in the boutique:  our 15ml splash version is discontinued, and all fragrances are now available in 30ml, with Reglisse Noire available in 30ml and 50ml format.  In about 1 month, we will be announcing a brand new collection of fragrances from 1000 Flowers, inspired by the Mediterranean region, with all new packaging and a sunny, vibrant theme. And in the coming days, we will tell you how you can be part of the launching of that collection.

To celebrate the new site, for the next 7 days (until Nov 7th), we will offer a coupon worth 15% from your purchase- just enter the code: ‘sunshine’ on the checkout page (all lowercase).   Also, since we are still beta, feel free to comment and let us know how you find your experience navigating the site.

Also, you will be seeing some informative posts appearing here on the blog, written by a guest writer, an intern here at 1000 Flowers, who will be exploring various subjects relating to Grasse, perfumery, and the region.   So sign up if you haven’t already, and stay tuned!   Have a happy day!

New Fragrance Launch! (an Ode to Love…)

Today I am very happy to announce the launch of two new fragrances from 1000 Flowers.  The duo was inspired by a love story…
A love story began when a boy from the east, met a girl from the west,
when smiles and shy glances were exchanged, and their hearts leaned in
to each other.

She shared with him her love of flowers and perfume (especially roses and violets), and he shared with her sensuous parts of his culture, such as incense and oudwood, and the fragrant spices of his eastern cuisine.

Together they began an exploration of the senses.

Love is Sweet represents the feminine in this story- full of roses, violets, vanilla, patchouli coeur, amber, and precious woods.

Ode to Him is the masculine counterpart- fresh with the cool notes of cardamom and coriander, richly layered with oudwood, cedar, and resins of faraway lands.

These fragrant compositions contain high concentrations of precious natural materials such as Rose, Vanilla pods, Patchouli coeur, Sandalwood, and Orris.

(The name ‘Love is Sweet’ is inspired by the song from Anita Baker called “Sweet Love”…)

LOVE IS SWEET
LOVE IS SWEET
Bergamot. Pink Pepper.
Bulgarian Rose oil. Iris.
Turkish Rose absolute.
Cinnamon.Purple Violets.
Opoponax. Patchouli.
Vanilla Pods.
Sandalwood.
Tonka. 
Musk. Amber.

ODE FOR HIM
ODE FOR HIM
Coriander. Cardamom.
Immortelle absolute.
Rose absolute. Clove.
Sandalwood. Oud.
Frankincense. Myrrh.
Cedarwood.Patchouli.
Moss. Vetiver.

 

The fragrances are initially presented in Italian glass 15ml splash flacons and are now available online in the 1000 Flowers boutique at www.1000flowers.ca

ODE FOR HIM

LOVE IS SWEET

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all a fragrant and happy holiday season!