How to make perfume
Musings from our owner and perfumer, Kelly Heaton

To make perfume is to create nourishment for the nose, mind, body, and soul. This is no small task. Life is replete with magnificent smells, but they’re difficult to capture and prevent from fading. For example, Rose Otto is an exquisite scent in itself, but doesn’t smell exactly like the flower; and despite its value, the oil dissipates rapidly when worn. My challenge is to build upon such precious ingredients, enhancing and extending their beauty to the best of my ability. Perfumery demands sensitivity, creativity, research, science, rare ingredients, and a patient obsession with perfection.

Artists and perfumers have the power to create portals to feelings and memories, which explains why people have such strong opinions about what we do. We provoke subconscious experiences. There are perfumers who aim for radical novelty, those who desire mass appeal, and some who are satisfied with personal expression alone. Some fragrances smell clean, while others are downright scandalous. I aim for a classic and elegant beauty that is multi-layered.

My Field to Fragrance® portfolio is an amalgamation of my travels, memories, and rural life. I wear all of the perfumes that I create, some more than others, but they all represent aspects of who I am. “Neroli” captures the citrus flowers and sea breezes I encountered on visits to Liguria, along with a mysterious Tuscan tea note that warrants a story of its own. “Classic No. 9” smells like my childhood memory of grand perfumes worn by sophisticated women: a lifetime of becoming. “Fougère” is my attempt to recreate the legendary Houbigant parfum from 1882 -not the modern version, the old-fashioned one- which I have never smelled, but imagine whenever I see ferns. “Jasmine Blossom” exists because sweet, velvety, narcotic Jasmine Grandiflorum deserves a perfume all her own. “Ace” is a celebration of refined Vetiver and the unparalleled charm that it imbues upon a gentleman. “Grenada Orange” captures the scent of a sun-kissed man on holiday in the Island of Spice. “Tabac” is beautifully masculine and dear to my North Carolinian heart, raised with smoky bourbon, barn wood, and fields of tobacco. “Ruby” is a bold and juicy bouquet celebrating a wonderful woman and an ardent supporter of the arts.

How do I make perfume? A memory knocks on my door until I can’t live without it. Courting scent memory is like dating perfume on the Internet. After awhile, you get a good feeling and your passions lead to the real work: choosing the right ingredients, resolving conflict, working within your means, deciding if it’s worthwhile, trying to make it last, and committing to a formula for production. Like any relationship, no amount of planning can predict the complex interactions that occur in the mix. Formerly independent aromas merge into entirely new smells - rarely fabulous, often disappointing, and sometimes repulsive. Perfumery requires inspiration, hard work, luck, and -dare I say- a touch of magic.

— Kelly Heaton, September 2016

To learn more, here are some places to start:

BLOGS

Basenotes.net
Boisdejasmin.com
Fragrantica.com
Perfumeshrine.blogspot.com

BOOKS

"Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume" by Mandy Aftel
"Perfumes: The Guide" by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
"Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin" by Steffen Arctander
"Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution" by Arcadi Boix Camps
"The Essence of Perfume" by Roja Dove

Ingredient Suppliers

Artisan Aromatics
Eden Botanicals
Enfleurage
Hermitage Oils
Liberty Natural Products
Perfumer's Apprentice
Perfumer Supply House
White Lotus Aromatics

REGULATIONS

International Fragrance Association (IFRA)

RESEARCH

The Good Scents Company