Updated: May 27
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso
The core to creating your own perfume is having an objective. To make a fragrance, you don’t want to haphazardly toss together a bunch of pretty making scents and hope for the best until you find something that you like.
Take this analogy as an example: when you are planning a holiday away, you go through the same process. You think about why you want to travel (relaxation, culture or party), where you want to go (seaside, nature or city), the purpose of the trip (anniversary, annual getaway or education), how to get there (plane, train or automobile), etc.
The same holds true with making a perfume.
Know your objective. Decide what you are trying to create.
Too often, new perfumers get excited to launch their first perfume without having a clear idea of what and why they are creating it. They then end up releasing something without a story that is thrown together just because it smell nice. Sound familiar?
Let’s talk about my own journey in creating Drama Queen. I wanted to create a perfume that would be therapeutic, stop my mood swings, casual enough to be worn daily yet appreciated by others as a feel-good fragrance. My starting point was knowing where I wanted to end!
I personally found it helpful to put my ideas into words to keep me grounded. By writing out a story, I could remain focused on my objective. At times, I used drawings to put together my possible combinations and ideas, and even included visuals that reflected the feelings that I hoped to have with my final result. Even colours helped determine the scents I was looking for.
Mind-mapping is another option to expressing your goal. Look at this website or check out some videos about mind-mapping by Tony Buzan. You can get ideas through creating mood boards, which is another style of mind-mapping which uses your senses.
Sometimes writing yourself a brief will help you find your scent. The classic perfume “J’adore” was created by a simple single sentence brief to their perfume house;
"Create a perfume that is as sexy as a pair of Stilettos but as comfortable as a pair of Tod’s"
These metaphors can guide you toward your final product.
Without a clear objective and plan, it will be easy to get lost along the way.
Along the way, consciously recall why you are adding the oils into your creation. Otherwise, it becomes a drop of this and a drop of that, and suddenly we are on a new path.
What do you want to achieve, where do you want to go?
During the journey to your new creation, if you detect that it is just “not right,” it is time to sit down, look at the materials you have produced (written objective, brief, mind-map, mood board, etc.) because this will guide you back towards your objective.
Here's another way you can think about having an objective
Imagine you are going out for a drive in your car but you have no idea of where you want to go, you will just sit behind the wheel and go wherever you feel like at that moment, going left and right with no thought as to the destination.
You might, just might, end up somewhere incredible, or you may just end up driving off a cliff.
But if you know that you want to go to Harvey Nichols in London to buy a pair of shoes, you will go to that very store, you will plan how to get there and will know the way, and you will walk away with the shoes and perhaps even a pair of earrings.
You might even get a glass of bubbly while your there! And you can liken this to the additional notes you'll add to the perfume, because you were inspired by something else on your journey that complemented the whole experience.
Returning to my Drama Queen, now that I knew what I wanted to create, I knew what oils were required to help with hormonal imbalances, mood swings, and moments of sadness.
BUT in addition, I needed to think about going beyond the basic aroma remedy: rather than using only one kind of rose, I could think about using rare varieties to achieve my goal of luxury and uniqueness.
I believe fragrance is a luxury, even the natural types, and I wanted to bring back the opulence to organic scents, the way it used to be.
Once I found a list of possibilities, I had to rely on my perfumer’s nose to consider combinations that would be aesthetically pleasing. Remember, when you smell good, you feel good!
I also had to consider what I wanted the packaging to be, I did not want anything regular or cheap, aromatherapy remedies are 'ten a penny'
My expensive ingredients were a reflection of this, therefore once I had this vision and objective I knew exactly what oils I needed to include, the rest was creativity and instinct.
I achieved my goal. It took longer than I anticipated but it turned out better than I ever dreamed and the view along the way was incredible!
Lesson du jour: Never blindly create a perfume without having an idea of what you want to make otherwise it will be a mish mash of half baked thoughts and random daydreams.
Starting at the end will make it easier to begin.