What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Last night was the kick-off event for the Northwest Indie Perfumers’ Circuit at Blackbird Apothecary in the Seattle community of Ballard. As Blackbird owner Nicole Miller observed, we were without a doubt the coolest kids in town. So cool, in fact, that people passing by on the street dropped in to see why we were having so much fun.

The concept is to have a monthly event in which the work of a Northwest perfumer is featured. Each perfumer will create a fragrance called Blackbird, and will have their regular line displayed in the shop for the entire month. The first perfumer to go was Christi Meshell (photo, left), of House of Matriarch. Her Blackbird fragrance was beautifully displayed in crystal bottles of various sizes as well as roll-on dispensers. The juice itself was dark, sort of a transparent purple-black color. It was reported to contain over 100 natural materials, including oud. It seemed to be quite well-received by those who sniffed it. This new scent, along with Christi’s other fragrances, will be on sale at Blackbird for the month of December, so if you live in Seattle, this is your chance to visit Blackbird and test-sniff all of her creations.

The shop was festive-looking, with lights, decorations, plates of food and chocolates, and a small bar serving some amazing drinks. The space was packed with a big holiday-spirited crowd, all having a great time. The co-sponsor of the event was Wine World, a local retailer of wine and spirits. They have tastings on a near-daily basis, so if you live in the Seattle area, go check it out sometime. I intend to do so. The highlight of the bar was an amazing grape vodka made by Glass Distillery, another local business. Christi has been working with them on cocktails flavored with a mix of essential oils, which are sprayed into the glass from “perfume” bottles before adding champagne or vodka. I tried the one called “Air”, which was mimosa and galangal, and later the one called “Water”, which was jasmine and something else. Both were tasty, and a really fun concept. Their Kona coffee-flavored vodka was also excellent.

There’s something magical about spending an evening mingling with a lot of perfumers, perfumistas, and people off the street who want to learn about perfume, drinking unique cocktails, eating tasty tidbits, and spraying and dabbing ourselves with all manner of fragrant potions. I ended the night covered with Christi’s Blackbird, Montale White Aoud, Montale Chocolate Greedy, Mesha Munyan’s osmanthus tincture, and several of Christi’s other fragrances. The series is off to a fantastic start.

Here’s this year's lineup as it stands right now:
December 8: House of Matriarch by Christi Meshell
January 12: Rebel & Mercury by Nikki Sherritt
February 9: Sweet Tea Apothecary by J.T. Siems
March 9: Meshaz by Mesha Munyan
April 13: Blooming Dream Natural Fragrances by Suzinn Weiss
May 11: Ayala Moriel Parfums by Ayala Sender
June 8: Pirouette by Karyn Gold
July 13: Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes by Ellen Covey
August 10: Lulu Beauty by Julie Wray
September 7: Sweet Anthem by Meredith Smith
October 12: Imaginary Authors by Josh Meyer
November 9: Puente by Eliam Puente (launch of his new line)

[Photos by Nicole Miller or Christi Meshell, used with permission]


  1. Ellen, Thanks somuch for posting the schedule for this series at Blackbird! I had no idea it was happening and would love to attend when possible. I've ordered a few samples from Christi Meshell in the past and will try to get over to Ballard to check out more of her line this weekend. It's always helpful to take frequent "sniff" breaks when navigating the Christmas shopping craziness: )

    1. Cymbaline, I'm glad the posting of the Blackbird schedule is helpful. I hope many more locals take advantage of it. There's nothing like supporting home-grown perfumers! Maybe I'll get to meet you in person at one of the Blackbird events.

  2. What an interesting project! Thanks for the info!