I imagine most readers of his blog have experienced having an overload of perfumes in their collection. We keep chasing after the latest, most amazing fragrance, our noses always quivering on the lookout for new thrills. Some objects of pursuit deliver on their promise; others don’t, but stick around anyway making our closets look like hoarder heaven. For me, it’s not just perfume bottles and samples – I have way too many cosmetics, clothes, shoes, plants, books, jewelry-making supplies, and other things.
I think humans are collectors by nature, keeping stashes of stuff around in case of a shortage, but we’re also fickle consumers, firmly believing that the grass is greener somewhere else and the newest perfume will be better than the old ones we already have. The result is cluttered drawers, closets, cupboards and, as it turns out, websites.
We perfumers are in the awkward position of being expected to make creations that are good enough to persist and become classics, but at the same time we are expected to constantly come up with new fragrances and release them on a regular basis. In biochemistry, there is a phenomenon called “product inhibition” in which the product of a synthetic reaction feeds back on the system and prevents further production. At some point in perfume-making there is a crossover between production of new fragrances, what the perfume-maker can effectively manage, and what customers looking at a website or store display can cognitively process before becoming overwhelmed by the selection.
I’m sure we have all visited websites where there was such a bewildering array of different products that we ended up not wanting to buy anything simply because we did not want to take the time or put out the energy needed to review everything and make an informed choice (BPAL, I’m looking at you). As a perfumer with online shops, I like to keep the choices broad enough to be intriguing, but limited enough to be manageable. I feel like I’ve reached that crossroads point where some fragrances have to go to make room for other things.
My web-hosting platform can do an analysis of sales of all products over any time period that I specify, so I did the analysis to find out which fragrances were lagging behind in sales. Several were consistently low on the list, with Little Stars placing last or near-last throughout the 5 years that I’ve been in business. I’m not particularly fond of this one myself, so maybe the low sales were due to insufficient promotion on my part, but I’m not going to try to second-guess the reason. I had originally conceived African Orchid as a replacement for Little Stars in the orchid floral line, so I don't feel too bad about discontinuing Little Stars. I plan to do so in the near future, selling off my current supply at discounted prices.
Another fragrance with consistently low sales is Javanica, but I’m more on the fence about this one. Discontinuing two orchid fragrances at the same time would weaken that line, although I could easily produce another, better (in my opinion) orchid-themed floral to replace Javanica.
If you’re a reader who has tried my perfumes, which one would you like to boot off the website like a bad TV show contestant? Which one would you most like to see stay and keep you company?
Cast your votes for “eliminate” and “keep” (one each) in the comments section and be entered in a worldwide drawing for a 5-ml spray of the fragrance of your choice along with some other random goodies.
[RuPaul Drag Race photo adapted from Buzzfeed; entomologist photo adapted from Wikimedia; ridiculous shoe collection from Runner's World; Perfume Brawl graphic adapted from a game website]