Vancouver launch!

I’d like to invite all of you who may be in Vancouver this evening at 7, to come in to the beautiful & luxe fashion boutique, LARK. ¬†We will be having a launch party for¬†Reglisse Noire and Fleur No1 as 1000 Flowers makes her debut in Vancouver, BC.

See you there!

2315 Main St., Vancouver, BC
(Main at 8th Ave)
Phone: 604.879.5275  web: lark.me

1000 Flowers- Past and present

Happy New Year to all!!  May love and abundance fill all your lives for 2011 and beyond!

It is now officially the second day of 2011 here in France- and besides feeling full of optimism and energized to jump into some new projects, I am also reflecting a lot on how I arrived to where I am now.  This post will chronicle some of that journey.


On the first day of this year- we went up into the mountains behind Grasse to a little ski station called Gréolières Les Neiges, which is about one hour by car up into the Sub-Alps.  As we crested about 800m in elevation, the clouds dropped away, and we were bathed in bright winter sunshine.  At 1100m, the sides of the mountain were blanketed in wild lavender plants and plump little pine trees.

Upon arrival at the ski station, we found that many others had planned the same new year’s day outing, and the place was packed with people of all ages.¬† After all, the cost for a half day ticket is only 6 euro!

We had decided to have lunch in the lodge- and being that it was a bit too cold to sit outside at one of the long dining tables, we went inside, only to discover that it just as chilly. 
The proprietor was extremely gracious, in such a classic French way- pushing tables together for us (we were a group of 7) and lighting a roaring propane powered flame-throwing heater to warm us up.  (I suspect that it also fed us a touch of carbon monoxide!)


The lunch menu was small- but the risotto with prawns and shaved reggiano that I had, was absolutely delicious (and very well presented, given the setting).


Later, after a walk in the sunshine, looking up at the quite large runs over various parts of the slopes, plus some very brave sledding,  we returned to the waffle and crêpe stand at the lodge, and had our dessert.
My cr√™pe with ‘abricots et chantilly’ was divine!


On our way back down to Grasse, we stopped at the wild lavender zone to check for seeds.  Sure enough, the little scruffy flower tops still held some of the shiny black seeds, and even offered up the dry powdery aromatic perfume of the summer blooms.

One of my projects from this past year of 2010, was to grow lavender plants from the seed I had collected 2 years ago from the same spot.  I successfully raised about 65 plants- and by the time I left Canada 3 weeks ago, they were hearty little shrubs of about 5cm in height.


So now what’s next for 2011??

First off, I’ve begun the major project of building another website for a new branch of the entreprise.¬† This will be the site for all things natural that I create or that I find while traveling in France and beyond.

After all, I first began with naturals back in 1994 by launching a collection of 5 massage oils composed of essential oil blends and almond oil.  These were very simple and even the labels were hand-painted and then colour-copied!  This was followed in 1996 with a collection of pure essential oils and several skin care products, including a gel moisturizer and a scrub inspired by (and utilizing) the dried hibiscus flowers and copal resin that I found in Mexico.

It was also at this time, that I applied for and received a small business development grant from the government.

Three years later, in 1999, the Body Bar was born- a collection of cocoa butter massage bars that were ‘good enough to eat’.¬† These were quickly ‘discovered’ and were soon distributed across Canada and into the US.

Sometime during the huge success of the Body Bar, I came across an article in the New Yorker about the creation of an Herm√®s perfume, and the light went on for me.¬† I had no idea the career of ‘perfumer’ existed, and I was smitten with the possibilities.¬† I began to research like mad all that I could find about perfumes and the companies who created them.¬† Jo Malone and Lyn Harris of Miller Harris, among others were huge inspirations for me at the time.

Having already worked with the natural raw materials for almost a decade, this  was a medium that was very familiar.  Clinical aromatherapy had been the path I was exploring for years.  I had completed a year-long certification program through the Australasian College of Natural Sciences in Portland- but I was craving to be more artistic and even abstract.  The art of perfumery was the natural direction to take.

For four years, (while also manufacturing the Body Bar), I worked away in the little studio at the back of my garden, and created 4 natural perfumes.¬† These I marketed only to my community, Nelson, British Columbia, where I had lived since 1995.¬† These were exceptionally well received, but I was reluctant to launch them out into the world.¬† I felt there was still too much to learn and I didn’t want to make any mistakes.¬† I knew then that formal training was a necessity.

As it can sometimes do- life broadsided me when the sole distributor of the massage bars copied the product, thereby reducing my income to almost zero.¬† I was devastated.¬† This was a classic case of David vs Goliath and I really didn’t want to take on a huge fight like that. This was a very difficult and emotional time.¬† It was then that I made the dramatic decision to sell my house, (including the studio), to fund my dream and go to perfume school in France.

From this point on, the story can be picked up in detail at the beginning of this blog.  I came to Grasse in January of 2007 and have been here a good portion of the time ever since.  This blog has followed the journey.


In April of 2010,  I went to New York City to present my fist perfume, Reglisse Noire, to the Sniffapalooza group. This garnered some great reviews and enthusiastic support.  As well, at year end last week, the same group of supporters in New York awarded Reglisse with the award of being in the top 25 picks of the year in perfumery.

I am not trained in advanced business, but I am keen to learn and continue to explore my own vision as 1000 Flowers expands and grows.¬† I have been reading the book ‘Business as Unusual’, written by the founder of the Body Shop, the late Annita Roddick.¬† I’ve always found her hugely inspiring. ¬† I believe, and always have, that there are many different ways to find success- and forging new paths that are positive and inclusive, and that take into account the health of the planet- are particularly important.¬† Of course, one must play by certain general rules, and take counsel whenever possible, but one’s approach and attitude to life (and business) can be defined individually. Rebelliousness can be rewarding when expressed creatively.

During the last week of 2010, I had distribution inquires from several countries- including China- and so now…. I am seeking counsel and working hard to make good decisions that will¬† bring all this long journey to another level of fruition.¬† The fact that it happens to also be a new year, is perfect and couldn’t have come at a better time!¬† So onwards we go on this fragrant adventure called life… ¬†¬† xoxo

Crossroads

Bonjour a tous!

¬†¬†¬† New Year’s has come and gone, school has finished and I received my diploma as <<student perfumer>>.¬† So now what? you may all be wondering?¬† Well, so am I!!¬† I am now officially, a student of perfumery!¬†¬†The next step,¬†technically, classically,¬†is¬†to train under a Nez for 9 more years before ever hoping of attaining the title of ‘Perfumer’.¬† This is the tradition.¬† I respect that- but how to do it?¬† As you know,¬†¬†I have been¬†offered an internship at Mane & Fils for 3 monthes beginning whenever I choose.¬† I had heard rumours of what the placement involved, but about a week ago, I phoned the director of the department where I would be working to get¬†a detailed description of the project.¬† As it turns out- they are creating a data-base containing descriptions of all the most commercial mainstream –shampoos, shower gels, and fabric softeners– from the 8 main marketing regions of the world. It would be our job to smell, evaluate/categorize 100’s of these products and enter the info into the reference library. Interesting?¬† Perhaps.¬† But for 3 monthes, full-time, with no hope of working with raw materials, or creation on any level, I question its value.¬† At least for me.¬† If I was hoping to get my foot in the door with Mane for a future job, maybe.¬† But I have to remember why I came to France in the first place- to learn the art of perfume creation in the classical French tradition.¬† True, there are some great and creative formulae in shampoo and shower gel (believe it or not), but I would not have any contact with the creation aspect of these.¬† However, I was feeling still very unsure of my decision so went to see the director of¬†PRODAROM (http://www.prodarom.fr/UK/prodarom-accueil.htm) to ask his advice.¬† He agreed that perhaps this was not ideal or me, so made a call which got me an interview at Payan Bertand, a Grassois company founded in 1854.¬† (http://www.payanbertrand.com/index.php?_lang=GB&&alias=society)¬† There I met with the director of the perfumery department and had a brilliant conversation that helped me feel inspired if nothing else.

This man asked me what I wanted with their company (I said, an internship in the creation lab- working with raw materials), and he asked, for how long can you dedicate yourself to us?¬† (To which I answered truthfully, seems how I’m running low on $- for 1 to 3 monthes).¬† He then told me that realistically, for a period as short as that, there was not a lot I would learn!¬† Of course!¬† He then said, what I really need to do, is set up my lab and get to work practising, because with a year of school under my belt, this is the only way to continue to learn anyway- even under the tutelage of a Nez, one can only¬†continue to learn by constant practise.¬† He gave me his card and said that he would be there for me if I had any questions at all, and that they could send me samples to help get started. And that was that.¬† I left feeling quite elated and by the time I got home, I thought,¬†but what if I was to¬†offer myself to them for longer, for a serious length of time.¬† So I proceeded to write a letter saying that I would be happy to dedicate myself to Payan Bertrand for 2-5 years either here in Grasse or at another of their subsidiaries internationally.¬† I now await….. But of course, what he suggested is what I really want to do!¬† Of course!¬† My passion and love is studying the raw materials so I can fully¬†express myself and create beauty in this medium. But I also know how much I don’t know…and only time and guidance can fill in those blanks.¬† so how to make the most of my remaining time in the mecca?

Yesterday, I phoned the perfumer Michel Roudnitska.¬† (www.art-et-parfum.com/legend.htm¬†Read the articles here about Edmond as they are most interesting)¬† I¬†was put into contact by a wonderful woman I have come to know from Toronto who is a friend of his.¬† (http://web.mac.com/sixthscents) ¬†And next week, I have an appointment with him! This man is the son of Edmond Roudnitska who was a master perfumer and who created many¬†masterpieces.¬† Their approach to perfumery is the one I am most interested and inspired by- that this is an art form and one that connects deeply with our inner selves.¬† It is about beauty and the expression of it.¬†¬† As well, Edmond was the man behind many of JC Ellena’s ideas, including simplicity in formulation.¬† He was a thinker and always worked outside the constraints of pure commercialism.¬†¬† I feel like I am going to the source with this move, rather than taking the path most travelled.¬†

Other than this wonderful upcoming experience, I am also trying to decide when and where for my next steps once I leave France.¬† (I feel sad even saying that…but I console myself by saying- I’ll¬†be back)¬† There are a many options written on post-it notes and stuck all over the wall beside me! – 1.a month in Mexico- resting and studying my books-¬†while I wait for the snow to melt in Nelson.¬† 2. a month in Rome volunteering in a cat sanctuary in the ruins (this is something I ‘ve wanted to do for years)(http://www.arkonline.com/rome.htm) 3. going straight to Montreal to check it out seems how I am seriously attracted to the idea of living there. 4. going straight to Nelson to get to work on my business (it’s so cold¬†and there’s tons of snow!!) ¬†5. contacting an Irish perfumer I have found out about and seeing if he would take me as an intern (postscript…. I tried to contact this man and sadly¬†found his obituary- see below)¬†¬† Those are the main ones- there are others, like travelling in Tunisia, Morocco or Turkey that have been ruled out due to high cost….who knew it was so expensive in these countries!¬† It’s cheaper in Grasse!

Since I am feeling quite up-in-the-air right now as to what the ‘best’ decision is…I am very open to advice!¬† I am feeling quite humble these day actually and aware of ‘all that I don’t know’, so if anyone out there has a perspective, I am interested to hear!

 And by the way, as I wait, I am going through all my perfume samples (all the Miller Harris and many Annick Goutal, for example) and evaluating, dissecting and note-taking.  A great way to keep my nose tuned up!

Also in a few days, it will be exactly one year since I arrived in France!¬†¬†Un anniversaire d’importance!

—————————————————————————————————————————¬†

Arthur Burnham [May 14, 2007]

Arthur Burnham, perfumer and founder of Arthur Burnham & Partners Ltd., has passed away. Burnham’s 35 year career in fragrance included an apprenticeship at Roure Bertrand Fils et Justin Dupont, where he was the only British apprentice. He also spent 18 years with Dragoco UK. Burnham’s distinctions included a chairmanship with the British Fragrance Association. A talented rowing crewmember at Cornell, Burnham narrowly missed selection for the 1964 Olympics¬†

Flowers, perfume and the WPC

Another two weeks gone by just like that. Time is moving so very fast…so many thoughts and reflections- so many new faces, changing moods, changing light, sunshine and thunderstorms with the Mistral winds so intense last weekend that my potted basil, despite being tied down, disappeared from my 3rd story window sill. (look out below!)

I have spent¬†some more time in Italy, and eaten a fantastic ultra-fresh seafood dinner in San Remo, with the Mediterranean pounding¬†in the background thanks to the same wind.¬† I have driven about 50km into the mountains behind here to see a Fete de Narcisse as well as gorgeous vistas.¬† I’ve stood at the base of the red carpet opening night of the Cannes Film Festival and walked the docks looking at¬† the massive pleasure yachts from around the world. All this¬†decorated by the¬†flora that is blooming in ever-changing waves of beauty.¬† The wisteria finished, followed by the acacia trees, dripping with white fragrant clusters of flowers.¬† Then the broom, especially up in the mountains, and the bougainvillea, brilliant intense masses of fuscia, red and purple. Of course the roses as well, oh, and the olives bloomed somewhere in¬†between the acacia and the passion flowers. Now, a shrub I find very intruguing, the oleander, is in full bloom, with blossoms of pink, white¬†or red.

 

School is ongoing- we continue with chemistry, now understanding stereochemistry, optical isometry and the chemical structure of substances particular to perfumery. (ie substances with an olfactory threshold)  The main goal of all this is to be able to read gas chromatography charts and mass spectrometry readings to not only verify purity and quality of raw materials, but also be able to analyze existing formulae. For a more detailed explantation of GC, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_chromatography 

¬† Our teacher is a sweetheart, although her teaching style is very much her own and we have had to learn how to put the pieces together to have any clue what she is talking about. Being dropped into Grade 12/first year college chemistry is a bit shocking to begin with and, like all the teachers, her grasp of English is very limited, so my ‚ÄėFrenglish‚Äô continues to improve!¬† She is a chemist through and through, but she said something the other day that I love.¬† She said that we really don’t know anything; we can think that we do, but it is very likely that somewhere down the road, what we think of as fact, will be proved wrong. So there is no point being overly attached to anything as truth.¬† Maybe for now it is, but maybe not tomorrow….

 

Otherwise, we continue to study formulation with Max and have also begun to study marketing and the perfume genealogy of existing perfumes with a new teacher who is very proficient in English and has been in the marketing side of the industry for about 25 years. We will study by smell many known fragrances and learn to understand their olfactory structure as well as their industry classification.

Perfume genealogy is the study and categorization of fragrances based on specific families of scent (Chypre, Oriental, Floral etc), further distinguished by subfamilies such as fruity, green, amber, and woody etc. Also, we are looking¬†at the¬†correlation between the creation of¬†perfumes and the specific history at the time and how they can be¬†indicators of the psychology of society during each era.¬† It‚Äôs essentially a study of art history, although it is the ‚Äėart of perfume‚Äô history. All perfumes, historically, are complicated works of art, always inspired by a muse of some sort, be it by times of war or peace, past myth and legend, or by cultural shifts reflected in certain eras such as the Depression of the ‚Äė30‚Äôs or perhaps the counter-culture of the 60‚Äôs. Perfumes also reflect the changes in technology, with new materials being sought, found and created constantly, making room for ever more possibilities.¬† In times of peace, the most innovation is seen and in times of war or hardship, the perfumes go back to the known, single note florals because the people need to be comforted by the familiar. It‚Äôs a fascinating study and an integral basis of understanding for the creation¬†of any new ideas/products that have any hope of success in the future. Much contemplation must go into the conceptualization of a perfume- including current trends and demands by society- before it is launched.¬† That said, nowadays, new perfumes are flooding the market, with over 2000 new fragrances being released since the year 2000! ¬†There are only a few though, that are truly innovative and that will have any lasting effect on future trends. (or in people‚Äôs memories)

For an interesting sample chapter about the creation of a famous perfume, from a book that I have just ordered,  go to a PDF file at this link http://www.fragrancesoftheworld.com/samsara.pdf  (this may take a bit to download if you have a dial-up connection)

 

Next on the agenda is the World Perfumery Congress that will take place in at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes for 5 days next week.¬† This is a huge event, occurring every 3 years, where there will be an exposition showcasing producers of everything from raw material producers¬†to packaging, as well as lectures all day every day.¬† The students of GIP have been drafted to work there in exchange for a free pass! (a ticket is about 900euros) We have no class scheduled so that we can attend the event. ¬†I will be working early every morning at the ‚ÄėPhoto Booth‚Äô, although I have no idea what that is!¬† I am very excited about this opportunity, as we will have the chance to meet people from all facets of the industry from around the world from the inside, as staff.¬† I only work for about 4 hours each day and can attend the lectures the rest of the time. Here is a link to the site so you can have more information‚Ķ.www.worldperfumerycongress.com¬† Look under ‘program’ and then scroll down the menu to see the list of lecturers.

Now, I must get to work studying my French‚ĶI have improved dramatically since arriving, but I need to seriously¬†persue the study of grammar and conjugation.¬† Voila… bientot mes amis‚Ķet bious

the sculptor

I just came back upstairs from this Friday‚Äôs Place des Artistes show, and the artist was a wonderful gregarious woman named Ariane Maman who does small paintings, some¬†with collage¬†and some with images¬†bearing¬†a¬†venus of willendorf¬†flavour as well as potent sculptural pieces made of found objects.¬† I love art that is made this way.¬† Old pieces of rusty metal, enamel, wire and wood, compiled to create images of sometimes tortured beauty.¬† I told her how much this appeals to me (she speaks English!)¬†and she¬†explained¬†that to her, found¬†materials are like the pieces of us.¬† The experiences and people¬†in our lives, sometimes discarded, are the pieces that form who we are.¬† We are always fitting all these¬†bits together to create ourselves and always moving upward to be better and better. Like totems.¬† Her pieces really were like this; many almost as tall as me, and like skinny voodoo entities with wild nuts and bolts and rusty springs and rope giving them their personallity.¬† She gave me her card and said ‚Äėcall me! we‚Äôll have dinner or a drink or whatever and visit!‚Äô¬† I absolutely will and look forward to it.¬†

I am so happy that I am only moving around the corner from here;  the artist’s quarter. This town is full of artists.  Perhaps this is a phenomenon of France, or of this area in particular, je ne sais pas, but I love it and am enjoying its deep inspirational influence on me. A friend said to me once, the greatest gift is the gift of inspiration, and I have to say that the greatest feeling is being inspired. It is a well spring of internal bliss.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf