Liquorice Dreams (s.o.s!)

Dear all,

As many of you know, I am an artisan perfumer, and the founder of 1000 Flowers.  I’m known for having big dreams and a lot of courage.

Today I have a very humble and honest post to share with you.

I created this small business many years ago in the mountains of western Canada.  After much success, many hardships and a whole lot of determination, planning and dreaming,  I sold my house so as to attend a year of perfumery school in the south of France,  followed by some internships in a French company or two.

Since then, I’ve clung, ironclad, to my dream of creating a niche perfume house with a collection of perfumes based on naturals and with a green and ethical approach to both creation and business.

This Spring, I worked long hours to write a business plan and proposal to present to a business incubator here in Grasse- and I was accepted!

I then returned to Canada to apply for my 3 year visa, worked to attain new clients, and to launch a new perfume.  I spent 4 months working like mad, and returned to Grasse one month ago.

Since then, I have been biting my nails is regard to how to pay for this venture.  I have looked at angel investors, applied for the Dragon’s Den, and other ideas too… but so far, no one is interested in such a ‘small fish’… they all want big and they want to charge a hefty fee to even orchestrate matching of investors with entrepreneurs.  At this point,  I am more idea and potential, then actual.  Not everyone dares to dream as I do.

To get to the point-  I have realized that I may have to pack up and give up….. I have exhausted myself, my resources (I have put about 60,000 Canadian dollars of my own money into this venture), and my nerves.  There have been months where I had money for only one meal a day,  since all possible funds have to go into developing the business.  (raw materials, bottles, boxes etc.)

I have done everything myself by hand so far, created and launched two perfumes, designed and created the packaging, built the website, done all my own photography, packed my things back and forth between Grasse and Canada etc etc etc.

So…. for all of you who know me, and all of you who might not- I am making an appeal with all my heart.   My first perfume, many of you know well- REGLISSE NOIRE- has been a great hit… much loved and appreciated by all ages, and men and women alike.

 To keep going, to grow my company here in Grasse by entering into this business development program- I can’t do it alone.  I need your help!!
In exchange for your support,  for the next 2 weeks, I offer you Reglisse Noire at a greatly reduced price.
$23 each for the 15ml flacon.  (normally priced at $45)
The shipping is $8.50 to anywhere in the world.

$23 (about 18euro) (until Sept 13th)

The boutique is at www.1000flowers.ca

I thank you in advance for this and please know that you’re contributing to a dream that is pure and true. (plus receiving a fabulous perfume in exchange.)

With lots of love,
Jessica September Buchanan
nectar@1000flowers.ca

(ps I will also reduce Fleur N01 by 25% in honour of this occasion. )

The First Flower (For my Mother)

Today,  I am very happy to announce the launch of a new fragrance from 1000 Flowers!   For the last year or so, I had been carefully developing a different perfume for a Spring launch this year.  Then I found myself here, in the mountains of western Canada watching the beauty of Spring emerge … and I realized that there was another perfume that must be materialized first.

For the last few weeks, the new season has been filling our senses more every day with the freshness of unfurling green leaves, of blooming hyacinths, wild violets, magnolias, and the scent of the cool wet forest waking up from its winter slumber.

This First Flower, the fragrance that has been inspired by this ambiance, is dedicated to my Mother.  Without her, I would not be who I am.  It was she who taught me about Nature, about plants and flowers, and about artistic expression.  It was she who passed on to me the First Nations (Chippewa) sensitivity and awareness that continues to shape and inspire my life.  We trace this blood matrilineally, from my Grandmother, Great Grandmother and beyond, and I wish to honour this line of all my Mothers, many of whom were accomplished artists.

This new fragrance is a reflection of the joy and love of Nature, of melting snow and the first flowers of Spring, of new beginnings, and of the wild forests of Canada.

Introducing Fleur No 1 eau de toilette…..

Notes of narcissus, magnolia, rose, mosses, the forest in Spring, new baby leaves, wild violets, melting snow, and wet earth.

Also, there is an important aspect to this day that I would like to acknowledge.  Ninety years ago today, on the 5th day of the 5th month- May 5th, 1921-was the launch of the iconic perfume- Chanel No 5.   I find Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel to be an inspiration.   Her fragrance, created by the master perfumer Earnest Beaux, is still the top selling fragrance in the world- consistently for 90 years!

This first floral fragrance of 1000 Flowers, will be a limited edition for now.  It is loaded with precious floral absolutes and is a perfume that must be formulated in small batches.  Fleur No 1 will be offered in a 15ml glass splash flacon, in an eau de toilette concentration.  The 1000 Flowers website will be updated in the next few days for purchase… but please send me a message sooner if you would like to reserve a bottle.  (nectar@1000flowers.ca)

Wishing you all a fragrant and bright Spring, filled with flowers and endless dreams coming true. (And remember,  a walk in the forest, breathing the fresh air, can bring a sense of calm and ease that makes all the stress of day to day melt away.)

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(All images and text are copyright by and exclusive to 1000 Flowers™ and Jessica September Buchanan ©2011… All right reserved.)

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 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

Grasse!

I have arrived safe and sound back to the beautiful home of my heart- Grasse, France.  I got in last night, after a very long journey from Canada.  I caught the bus from the Nice airport- and after wrestling my two large and one small loaded down suitcases (more raw materials and books/papers than clothes) down into the old city,  I was met by my friend Julie who had my keys.  She than kindly helped carry everything up to the 5th floor where I live.

I was nervous all week- not sure how it would feel to be back in Grasse this time.  I have been in Canada for the last 11 months, and it is always a huge shift to jump between cultures and worlds- and I often feel so slightly schizophrenic in which place I belong to.  The longer I spend in one place the bigger leap it is to return to the other.  (I still think there should be some sort of psychotherapy for this sort of dilemma).

However, as soon as the bus entered the outskirts of Grasse, I felt a surge of excitement.  And certainly, as soon as I unlocked the door and stepped into my apartment, I breathed the huge sigh of relief that one does after being away from home for a long time.

Now today, after a heavy sleep (thanks Jordanna! melatonin really works!)- I am unpacking and settling back into this lovely space.  It is cold (these old buildings are not made for cold weather, and last night it was -1 C), but it is bright and familiar, and I am excited to get to work creating the perfume that has been percolating in my mind for the last 6 months.

View from my desk...

Réglisse Noire and the Art of Packaging

This blog began in January of 2007 with my journey to Grasse, France to study perfumery.   Since then, following my studies and internships there,  I have been focusing all my attention on the subsequent portion of the dream- to create beautiful perfumes, and to realize a successful career at the same time.  No small feat!!

I returned to Canada 7 months ago, and have been working day-in and day-out on all the details of launching the first fragrance.  To say the least, this has involved an enormous amount of work.  More facets than one can even imagine!! (although, such a wonderful challenge!)

Since being back,  I have also been taking classes in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to learn graphic design so that I can fully express all visual aspects (that accompany imagining of the perfume formula itself) of this creative process.  To be honest- more and more, this project feels like an artist’s installation.  Such a multi-faceted creation that involves digging deeper into my creative depths than I ever have in my life.

So, subsequently introducing the new outer packaging (as developed in Canada) for Reglisse Noire- the perfume that was born in France  ….

Cedar box

The box is solid British Columbia cedar (from off-cuts, leftover from home building), stained pure white with titanium dioxide powder and water, and sealed with a cigar-box style label to guarantee the purity and hand-made nature of each batch of perfume.

My goal has been to create an outer packaging that is an item of beauty to be kept…. thereby having a super light footstep on the Earth.  (‘recyclable’, in my humble opinion, just doesn’t cut it anymore…)  Refills will be available soon.  The lockable vintage-style atomizer is removable, unlike most perfume bottles.  Standard perfume bottles, even from luxury and niche brands, have what is called a ‘crimped’ spray top.  These are permanently attached, therefore making the bottle, once empty, impossible to recycle or to reuse.  For years I have struggled to find a solution to this problem… and finally, the technology has been developed- an atomizer that threads on, that also has a locking mechanism.. so it can be sealed for transport and to prevent evaporation of the precious juice inside.

Réglisse-50ml bottle

So there.  Years of work at the drawing board… with the goal of bringing into the world a product that represents beauty and that has a light environmental impact….

If you’d like to order this perfume- please go to the 1000 Flowers website…. http://www.1000flowers.ca

As well, your feed-back is greatly appreciated… I like to think of this as a work in progress….. Merci!