Guest post by AZAR
I have no doubt that Olympic Orchids Perfumes are magical. Ellen Covey's success as an indie perfumer is grounded in her creative spirit and reinforced by her extensive knowledge of fragrance materials, countless hours at the perfume organ, carefully considered artistic marketing and her commitment to the time-consuming and repetitive tasks associated with any successful enterprise. While I have no illusions about my ability to create a fragrance, I do know that I can handle the time-consuming and repetitive. In my experience even the most glamorous jobs can dull with repetition. I have also learned that it takes a relatively high level of discipline to successfully perform the same small motor task over and over again without losing focus or precision (both lessons learned from 60 years at the piano). I am certain that my talent for the tedious could be put to good use on a fragrance sample assembly line.
Unfortunately, many of today's independent perfumers and niche fragrance houses cannot be bothered to offer samples. The labor and expense involved in filling, labeling, packaging and posting the samples is not seen as cost effective. These guys rely on their websites, social media and the blogging community to sell their perfumes. Why go to all the trouble of offering samples when new customers can be so easily manipulated into blind, full bottle buys? I have succumbed to this strategy more often than I care to admit. As a result I have come to appreciate and support the perfumers who offer their customers a sniff.
About a month ago I visited my friend Ellen with the express purpose of putting together samples. Before we began she took me on a tour of her bamboo grove, orchard and gardens. She opened and shared some newly arrived absolutes and then we headed upstairs to the atelier where we tested (and Ellen tweaked) several soon to be released fragrances. After all the fun we finally set to work putting together samples of California Chocolate.
I am no stranger to decanting and labeling but have had no previous experience with the solo assembly line. Ellen gave me the simple tasks of labeling tiny plastic bags, labeling and filling vials and packaging the samples in the bags. She monitored my progress and gave me helpful suggestions along the way. A pipette gun with disposable tips and a rack for vials made working the line a lot easier. My first adventure in serious sample production was rather slow and clumsy but I know, that with practice, my speed and precision will improve. As a reward for the work, both Brad and I were treated to a fabulous salmon dinner prepared by Ellen and Michael followed by an amazing dessert of ice cream, guava sauce, whipped cream and figs freshly picked from Ellen's garden. "Nice work if you can get it…".
Now for a Belated Labor Day Give-Away: I have one mixed bag of ten or so niche and indie decants and carded samples that I am offering for a draw. These are all scents that I enjoy, including, of course, a sample from Olympic Orchids Perfumes. To be eligible for the draw, reveal (if possible) approximately how many samples you have laying around your house, place of business, in your car, purse wherever. Have you developed a workable plan to store your samples? Let us hear about it! Entries will close September 7 and winners will be announced in a subsequent post. I'm sorry but I have to limit the draw to US addresses this time around.
[Thank you, Azar! All photos are mine (Ellen's). I just realized that the photo of my perfume organ was taken a while back when it was younger, smaller, and cuter. I see now how quickly it has grown!]