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 crêpe 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 Hermès 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