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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


We got back from San Francisco on Tuesday night and spent yesterday catching up on things that had piled up during our absence, mostly e-mail and preparations for spring quarter, which starts on Monday. Today will be spent packing and shipping orders that accumulated while I was gone, including plant orders that have been waiting since the dead of winter to be shipped to cold climates.

It’s always fun to visit San Francisco, and we took an extra day after the salon just to enjoy it. This time I gained a much better appreciation for the layout of the city by staying in the North Beach area and walking everywhere except Berkeley, which we visited by BART.

Overall I'd deem the second annual San Francisco show a success, especially given that these fragrance salons sponsored by Taste TV are a work in progress, still ascending the steepest part of the learning curve. 

Michael and I had been traveling in Europe and Canada (my university work, his vacation!) for most of March, so only had three days to prepare for the salon. I was glad that I’d done it before, so all I had to do was go down my checklist, making sure the 35 pounds of Fed Ex boxes were sent off in time to arrive before the show. Nevertheless, by the time I got to San Francisco, I was pretty much feeling like a zombie. 

The venue was a huge, enclosed dry dock at Fort Mason, a former military installation, so we were out on the water with gorgeous views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. On the one hand, it was nice to have the perfumes in the relatively tiny "penthouse" up above the level of the chocolate, with plenty of ventilation. On the other hand, there were almost no signs informing people where we were, or even that we were there. With better signs in the park and the nearby farmers' market and cheaper tickets at the door, I think we could have had twice as many walk-in visitors. 

One puzzling feature was the large empty bar in the center of the fragrance penthouse area. I couldn’t figure out why someone wasn’t serving coffee, tea, and non-chocolate snacks in the morning, adding stronger drinks in the afternoon. It would have probably tripled the traffic to our area. As it was, it was a forlorn, abandoned spot that somehow detracted from the activity in the rest of the area.

The other puzzling feature at both this show and the Los Angeles one was the near-total disconnect between the fragrance salon and the chocolate salon. There was no cross-publicity, no clear indication at the door that the ticket was for both shows, and no signs directing the people in the enormous chocolate area to the tiny fragrance area, which was all the way at the back of the building up a flight of unmarked stairs.

Apparently I can never anticipate the audience. At previous shows I've sold a lot of discovery packs, and brought plenty of them this time. Contrary to expectations, most people this time bought full bottles, so I ran out and had to take orders to ship. It just proves that you never know. Sales seemed better at this show than previous ones, and even some walk-in customers from the chocolate show ended up buying. As at the LA show, I did a lot of educating about fragrance, fielding the question, “How do you make perfume?”, innumerable times and trying to figure out the proper response to the question, “Do you have something lite?”. Maybe it was my imagination, but it seemed that there were fewer press people at this show than previous ones. Maybe they just failed to identify themselves. 

In general, I'm happy with the way this show went. It’s always fun to meet and interact with other perfumers, see their displays, and attend the extracurricular events. I look forward to preparing better for the Seattle show in May. It will be fun not having to worry about shipping things ahead of time. 


  1. Welcome back! I'm wondering which fragrance was your top seller at this show? Brad will be doing SF with his orchestras next week. I wish I had made arrangements to go with him but have to stay home to take care of taxes.

    1. Gail, The top seller at the show was the new one, California Chocolate, followed by Red Cattleya and Dev #2. Cafe V also sold pretty well. San Francisco is a wonderful place to visit, much better than doing taxes, although that has to be done.

      I'm still catching up on shipping orders and getting ready for classes to start next week.

  2. Welcome back, and hope your weekend is peaceful. The show sounds pretty exciting, though I'm sorry it wasn't made more obvious to people. How did the chocolate perfumes do?

    1. Marla, the chocolate perfume was very popular, not just among chocolate show attendees, but among the perfume crowd, too. It was funny to see people smell it and immediately smile! I've never seen such a universal reaction to a perfume. It was great.

      I need to list it on my website, but the function for uploading photos isn't working. It's frustrating. I hope you have a good weekend!

  3. Glad to hear that you guys had great time in San Francisco. Congratulations for the success of your show. It was nice reading your description of the trip.

    San Francisco Shows