Selling perfumes

Amman, 1990

We were looking at the yachts and sailing boats from the high, it was near Palermo in Sicily.

My small daughter told me: “Papi, I want to buy a boat when I am grown up”.

“It is easy” I replied, “you just have to sell perfumes to the people, and do you know why it is easy? Because everybody likes good smells”.

Baba Farid, one of the greatest saints of the subcontinent, ended up his life in a small village of Punjab, Pakpattan.

That was his mission. Other saints were in Dehli or Lahore, two great cities of all times, seats of power and civilization, they had thousands of disciples, and they advised kings and viziers.

He taught, Fed and cured backward village folks all his life.

I spent a year or so in Pakpattan, stuck there by destiny as had been Baba Farid, and I had a lot of time for reading and studying the life of the saint.

His were simple teachings for simple people. I remember very well one of his sayings: “Do not try to sell to the people what they do not want to buy”.

Our marketing geniuses have turned the problem around for their clients: “Make people desire what they don’t want to buy”, but for us perfumers the point to realize is that everybody wants to smell good and to live in a nice smelling environment.

Our job of selling perfumes is much easier than the one of other producers.
There is an Arab proverb that goes like that: “A pious person is like the Perfumer, if he does not give you some perfume, at least you will enjoy his nice fumes.

The corrupt person is like the blacksmith: if he does nut burn you with his fire, at least he will suffocate you with his smoke”.


A perfumer who looks for inspiration inside himself is not only necessarily very limited, but he also risks to end up into an ego trip completely incompatible with true inspiration, as by definition inspiration transcends the person who receives it.
I heard Guerlain in an interview saying: “I never “created” a perfume that was not for a woman who really existed and preferably who had a significant importance in my life”.

A real perfume is made for real persons.
The true fount of inspiration for the perfumer is the others, and it is endless.
A perfumer should consider himself as being at the service of others and not as a mythical being worth of admiration.

The worst that could happen to him is to close himself in a world of his own, loosing connection with the reality of the others.
A sound dose of humility is indispensable to be able to progress on the way of learning. Read more

The Perfume and the Medias

We tend to believe that it is sufficient for a company to appear on a major magazine to pick up customers.

My long time experience matured with the press has shown me that this is not at all the case.
The funniest example is the last one in date, the review of a national Italian mode magazine, “Velvet” of La Repubblica.

This magazine was so kind as to send one of its reporters to one of my Natural Perfumery courses in order to unveil the mysteries of perfume “creation”. In this case I was to compose the “Velvet Perfume” together with their journalist.

The review was published in August and, thing totally unexpected to me they revealed the formula of the perfume in order to “let it smell” with the imagination to their readers.
The article occupied 3 full pages, it was unmistakable, and the journalist had been so kind as to publish our web site, our telephone number and even our address.

One million copies were put on the market and in a few days they were all gone so much that going round to buy a few copies to offer to customers I could not find any.
The magazine ends up in many waiting rooms, hair dressers shops, dentists and so on. The review had then being read by at least a million of Italian people.

The comical of the situation is that there has been just one single person who called us for inquiring about the Velvet perfume, if it was available for purchase.

Papers may bring you fame, not customers.
The link to the article is:

Mechanism of olfactory memory

Psycho-Aromatherapy is by Robert Tisserand

The perfumer invites people to smell perfumes, this can be a daily routine.I have a customer who smells the raw materials for his fragrance. I have it tried out by the barman next to my office, I diffuse scents during my didactic conferences. My pockets are always full of perfumes, I do not miss an occasion to spray them on other people’s hands, I leave behind me a sillage that stuns people who do not know me.
A perfumer never has to ask to someone what he thinks of the perfume: he has just smelt it is enough for him to observe and read the faces. Facial expressions are infinite, liking, repulsion, appeals to me but I wouldn’t wear it, doubtful, skeptical, intrigued, reminds me of something long ago but I do not know what, reminds me of something that I don’t like.

At the end the expressions are only of two categories: smiling and negative. If the person smiles it means “good”, if the person does not smile she will never buy a scent that will not make her happy, unless she wants to rid of the scent and make a gift to someone.

Read more

Mystic of Perfume Making

There are different ways to initiate the composing of a new fragrance, but the spirit of it should always be one; “Kodo” the Zen of perfume.
In the Hebrew mystic it is taught that all senses give pleasure to the body while the sense of smell gives pleasure to the soul.
In the Sufi Way, each “state” is associated with a scent, and in the Semitic language the word “fragrant” is synonym to the word “good”, as if every good perfume necessarily comes from a good thing , and every good thing necessarily emanates a good perfume. As a conclusion of this we have the tradition of the “perfume of holiness” that emanates from pious people whose actions are virtuous (good).

A perfumer from the industry has to learn his base notes, their molecular structure, the story of their utilization, their preferred combinations with other ones, their making process and their eventual toxicity.
The Natural Perfumer also has to learn to know his base notes, his ingredients, the notes of his working instrument.

Natural essences are a lot more complex than the singular synthetic molecules used by the industry of mass perfumes.
The essential oil of plants is their vital spirit extracted through a basic process of Alchemy: distillation.

Basic knowledge of Phytotherapy, our ancestral medicine, is indispensable to the knowledge of the essences because the medicinal properties of plants are most often due from the essential oil they contain.
The traditional plant healer is able to understand their curative properties just observing them. Many are the clues; their shape, their growing, their reproducing, their preferred ground, their ideal climax, their reaction to aggressions and their perfume.
The natural perfumer should arrive to this intuitive knowledge, smelling an essence he should understand its medicinal properties. He shall be able to do this only because he will use them daily not only to compose perfumes but also to cure himself, his family and his friends.

In fact, practicing Aromatherapy is a natural conclusion for who composes perfumes with natural raw materials.
Essential oils are material substances to be used in Aromatherapy in drinks, foods or massages, but they are also smells, immaterial fumes, vibrations, and their aromas have on us surprising effects.
Who has not experienced, for instance, that the smell of lemon makes him salivate?
Or lived intense emotions provoked by the smelling odors from his past?
Does not each of us know how much bad smells can disturb us psychologically and how good ones can make us happy, like the aromas of food, of the forest or of the sea?

The natural perfumer must learn the psychological properties of his raw materials, and he can do that only wearing them purposely to observe on himself and on others the effects they produce.
This knowledge cannot be acquired except through personal experience and this could take a long time.
Fortunately a number of people are conducting research in the field of olfactory psychology, and the study their conclusions together with one’s own observations based on personal use of the essences will allow him who threads the “way of Scent” not only to grow rapidly in knowledge, but also to contribute himself with new discoveries, because the field of olfactory research is an unknown ocean still to be explored.

Olfactory research is not limited to the body mechanisms, it explores the infinite of human soul.

Perfumer’s perversion

I just received from South Africa a new essence that is not yet available on the international market of raw material for perfumers.

The bottle had leaked a bit and the wrapping of the parcel was perfumed.

The power of this essential oil is incredible.

Since 2 days my work place and the next room have been invaded by the fragrance of this strange mix of bubble gum and cat’s pee, although I have cleaned everything and thrown out far away the empty package and the inside wrapping.

Do you have present when you enter a room and say: I can smell a mouse?

This is the smell of the pheromone that these animals leave with their urine. It is very close to the smell of cats urine as well.

The only essence of the perfumer’s palette which has a similar note is a good and real Black current absolute, although much more fruity in body.

This olfactory pollution of my working place has had the good result of allowing me to understand better the smell because from the bottle it is so powerful that it stuns the nose.

It has a definite undertone of Clary sage, which is as well a hormonal essence whose structure is similar to a pheromone.
It also has a slight tobacco note and understanding all this gave me an idea about how to start working (playing) with it.
Although I know that this will not please my wife and co workers who always criticize my “perverted attraction” for all animal scents and for some of the “strange stinking” botanical raw materials.
Every profession has its perversion, said yesterday my right hand man, yours is about these stinking stuff.
My wife said also: “Do you really like them or is it just for joking? Your eyes start shining and you look always so exited when you discover one of these stinking things”.
Who will understand the nose of a perfumer? It smells much more than odors. A perfumer in some ways thinks with his nose, he can conceptualize smells and build with them coherent constructions that appeal to the emotional memories and imagination of others.
It is just a question of training and education, not a great deal in fact, but it is mysterious and with the aura of sacredness to all but him (or her, of course, seeing that most of the new generation are women).
Well, this Betuline essence is really something, I could smell that not only with my perfumer training but also with my Aromatherapist nose.
It is difficult to believe it for most people, but a person used to cure with essential oils is able to understand many properties of an essence he never knew before just by smelling it.
Before asking to the producer information about the traditional use of the plant in South Africa I googled it and, not at all surprisingly I discovered that Betuline cats pee smell is used traditionally to increase urine production, to cure kidneys and bladder, and to heal the urinary track.
I shall now research about the hormonal effect, probably for women problems.
Next news about Betuline when I start making a perfume out of it.

Tri-dimensional Perfumery


My search for the real musk deer scent has carried me in some of the farthest spots of the Hindu Kush but at last I found it from its fount.

I fully understand the need of all perfumers for a sustainable musk scent substitute, but the point maybe is rather about the use of an animal note in our botanical scents, such as Ambergris, Civet, Hyraceum or Castoreum, in order to obtain a perfume with a third dimension.

Like the small machines resembling binoculars through which you look in order to watch 3 dimensional photographs, there are only 2 images in the machine but the vision is truly tri-dimensional.

Read more

Olfactory education

There is a clear parallel between music and perfumery, between olfactory and musical melodies, and we shall use this likeness in order to understand better the “why” and the “how” of olfactory education.

Just like music, perfumery is an art and even a major art, being entirely dedicated to one of our senses of perception, the sense of smell. Why is perfumery not taught at school just like music or drawing? Is perchance our sense of smell a minor sense of little importance?Do we perhaps love perfumes less than other civilizations?

School programs offer to all the basis of musical education, teaching the seven notes of our musical scale.

Olfactory education is no less important and to be able to name the scents of lavender and rose is no less important than to be able to name the blue and the red of the color spectrum.

The program that we designed is very simple and can be re-assumed in one phrase: “how to become a perfumer in 4 moves”. Read more