Interview


There are so many fragrances out there. How do I know which one to buy?

Yes, a dizzying number of fragrances. Over a thousand new launches every year - too many for anyone to track. Consumers are completely overwhelmed. You want to find just the fragrances that will bring you exquisite pleasure. I can help you navigate…

Someone has been wearing perfume her whole life and she thinks she knows what she’s doing, why would she come to you?

You may love perfume and have scents that make you happy, but have you ever wondered if there’s a scent so extraordinary that it would complete you in a way nothing ever has before? That’s why you come to me.

Many of us have been disappointed when a fragrance seems to change, and I’m not talking about a bottle going bad because you exposed it to sunlight or temperature changes. It's the situation where “I used to like this stuff and it’s just not as good as it used to be.” Well, the manufacturer changed the formula! Even more upsetting is when one of your favorite scents is discontinued entirely.

So you want to find something new. But given everything out there, how do you start? I can use the tools in my toolkit to narrow it down to the ones you are most likely to enjoy. In many cases I can provide samples you can try, or take you shopping and protect you from the perfume…

The perfume squirters! (laughs)

Yeah.

Do consumers make mistakes when they are choosing fragrances?

Of course they do. You need to hang tough. You need a high acceptance threshold. Just wait until you find the fragrance that gives you exquisite pleasure, nothing less. It has to be a love affair. The store may not mention this, but you never buy a perfume right away. You should always let a fragrance develop on your skin before making a decision.

A fragrance consists of a first impression…you get a whiff of what are called top notes. These are lighter molecules like citrus that will set the tone for the fragrance. After the top notes evaporate, you begin to feel the heart of the fragrance and what are called the middle notes. These are often florals and are most noticeable in the first few hours after you put your perfume on. The heart notes convey the general character of the scent. As the hours pass, you begin to get the full effect of the heaviest aspects of the fragrance, the base notes. These are typically elements like vanilla, musk, patchouli, amber, sandalwood, vetiver...heavier molecules that fix the fragrance to your skin.

What about personality? Shouldn’t we have a perfume that is right for our personality?

Of course! You know who you are and the image you want to convey. You may want to amplify certain aspects of your personality, or to soften them...fragrances send a definite message. You see, individual perfume ingredients have physiolgical effects that determine the "vibe" of the scent. I'll can tell you what a scent says in our culture. Then, if you decide to wear Opium into the board meeting, you're on your own! Oh, don't look so serious! I'm kidding.

Please don't think of me as the fragrance police. I’m much more interested in finding you something that smells wonderful to you than in rules about who should wear what. I don’t rely on personality profiling to get to your perfect scent. I don't set a lot of store by the women’s beauty magazine surveys: “Are you sexy, are you romantic, are you sporty, are you creative?” where they give you a list of perfumes for each type. There are much better ways to identify the scent that will bring you joy.

Like what?

I have you complete a profile and ask questions about past fragrance history and individual perfume ingredients you like - we call them notes. There are questions about soapy smells, woody smells, strong and rich smells, delicate smells. That gets me thoroughly tuned into your preferences. Then we talk. So much comes out of the conversation. People remember things about their experience that might never come up in writing.

I offer to bring my oils and potions to you so that you can smell. All of the custom perfumers with whom I work go through a similar process. They will let you smell individual notes, or accords - those are groupings of notes - or sometimes scents they have developed in the past. This helps them understand what you love. But let's say you are shopping for something already on the market, and you just don't know how to find it. I can get down to an extremely granular level of what you love and what you hate. I have ways of finding the fragrance that has only the things you love and none of the things you hate. I produce a list of recommendations, and I can obtain the perfume for you, or samples, if you like.

For people who value their time, you are a tremendous service.

Yes, because I can boil down what you share with me and rule out 99% of what’s out there as inappropriate candidates for your next scent. We zoom right in on the best options for you.

If someone is looking for a unique perfume, something just for her, how should she start?

Call me! I work with some of the finest custom perfumers in the world. I built relationships with a variety of individuals to better match my clients with a perfume style and a process that they will enjoy. We have the option of face-to-face consultations or can do this by phone and mail.

Some of the perfumers I've chosen are known for a traditional French style, some for a lush tropical feeling, or for very sexy scents made with exotic ingredients. Some specialize in a given style and others have a wider range, and might do other special things, like create a variety of gorgeously packaged creams, powders or favors for your birthday or wedding party.

You may prefer all-natural perfumes. I have no interest in attempting to resolve the synthetic vs. natural perfume wars. Each side has well-educated proponents. There is something for everybody.

I even have an option for folks to blend their own scent at an entertaining event with friends, family or with a women's group

How did you get started in this?

I have always been passionate about fragrance, from a very young age.

What was that like?

Oh, when I was little, I wore perfume...some fragrances that aren't the same today, or don't exist. Back then you could buy Emeraude by Coty at the drugstore. I wore Ma Griffe by Carven, an Avon fragrance called Occur! There was Khadine by Yardley and a honeysuckle scent by Avon. It was pretty good. And Avon had a lilac scent too. Those two came in sticks that looked like lipstick. Solid perfume is great. I wasn't wearing anything particularly fancy then. But I just loved it.

And now?

I am still into it! And I am just thrilled by the strangers and friends and family who have taken the time to anoint themselves with a potion to bring themselves pleasure and to bring pleasure to those around them. For decades, I've chased people down the street, down the halls of office buildings, anywhere... “What is that amazing scent?” It's an art form.

Well with all of the demanding positions that you’ve held in corporate America, how does perfume consulting compare?

In this venture, I am bringing to the fore my love of people and my love of the art of fragrance in a way that was not possible in the corporate world. And I am dealing with the very tippity top of Maslow’s hierarchy. We’ve met our survival needs, our safety needs. Now it’s time to self-actualize, to experience the joys and pleasures and beauty that we’ve worked so hard for.

This is about pleasure. At the same time, I’m bringing the skills that I’ve honed in business - listening, problem solving, research, my intuition, my knowledge of psychology and human nature. That and my love for bringing people pleasure...I’m pulling all those things together with this genetic passion I have for things that smell wonderful.

I've always loved learning languages. I love crossing worlds. And I feel like the sense of smell and what delights us from an olfactory angle has not been merged with human speech and communication. I bridge the gap. I use words to help people find something that is going to blow them away from a sensory perspective.

What are you trying to accomplish for your client?

I’m trying to connect you with scent or scents that will bring you pleasure. We do this as the culmination of a delightful, personal and pampering journey. I will get inside your head and we will laugh and marvel over what smells good to you and what smells bad to you. I'll hear your stories and share things with you that are going to make you swoon. And when you're happy, I am too.