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, July 30, 2015


SATURDAY, JULY 25: I’m starting to write this post on Saturday night, the day my Huernia zebrina bloomed. It looks like I’m going to be the only perfumer at the Seattle Chocolate Salon, which used to be the Chocolate and Fragrance Salon before the organizers decided they weren’t making enough money from the perfume side of it. I’m preparing for a crowd of people who probably have little or no knowledge about perfume, and little or no appreciation for it. Some may even be afraid of wearing perfume.

I’ve tried to design an eye-catching general-public-friendly display that has some items other than perfume - body balm and soap. There will be drawings for live orchid plants throughout the day, and the featured fragrances for both perfume and soap will include Seattle Chocolate and California Chocolate. I expect to do more educating than anything else. It’s not even 9 PM yet, and everything is ready to go! I’ve gotten quite efficient at packing for shows. 

MONDAY, JULY 27: The show is over, and played out pretty much as predicted. The venue was a large, suburban hotel next to a bleak freeway exit in the south end of Bellevue, just across the lake from Seattle. As far as I could tell, it was only accessible by car, ruling out attendance by anyone who did not drive, as well as any walk-in attendees.

Most surprising was the fact that the hotel was undergoing a major construction operation, so the vendors and public had to walk through a maze of plywood and plastic tunnels to reach the so-called “ballroom” where the event was held. Given the nature of the venue, its location, and its condition, I’m surprised that attendance was as good as it was.

The vendors were a mixed conglomeration of businesses, ranging from high-end chocolatiers who had flown in from Florida through Northwest tea retailers, a street-fair jewelry stand, and a financial consultant! I thought I would be the odd business out, but clearly I was wrong. I actually featured some chocolate-themed products that stimulated the chemical senses.

This strategy had its pros and cons. The fact that I highlighted chocolate-themed fragrances made me fit right into the mainstream, but it also resulted in more than a few people asking how to eat my products!

More than the usual number of people informed me that they were “allergic to perfume”. I think there’s a correlation between driving everywhere and being “allergic” to everything. If they really had allergies, I imagine they would have fled as soon as they smelled the moldy carpet in the ballroom, which was hard to ignore. Oddly, some of the “allergic” people asked me if I had scented candles.

As I expected, I sold more soaps and body balm than perfume, although the travel sprays were a popular item. This show was like a typical orchid show in that Red Cattleya was the fragrance preferred by the majority, with many of my other perfumes just evoking puzzled looks. That’s fine. I explained that not every perfume has to smell like walking into a Sephora shop. If even one person’s olfactory horizon expanded by a few molecules, I did my job.

Perfume shows are always good for discovering new types of anosmia, in this case an inability to smell the incredibly strong patchouli in my newly-minted Patchouli Lover’s soap!

Overall, it was an interesting day, not particularly profitable, but an interesting session of observing the people of the Eastside who go to chocolate shows and, with any luck, expanding their horizons. 

[All photos are mine except for the one with the Quantum Demonology book and Devil Scents, which is from the Taste TV Fragrance Salon Facebook page] 

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