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Creating Bespoke Fragrances

I had a great question this week from a reader and thought it followed on well from last week’s newsletter topic which was being selective about your fragrance materials and having a clear idea about what you are trying to create before you start. The question was on the best questions to ask when creating a custom perfume for someone else.

Creating a fragrance is challenging enough but creating a custom scent for someone else has its own additional issues. The most difficult part of creating a bespoke fragrance is understanding what the client wants. Often they don’t know what they want or what is achievable so we need to help them along quite a bit by asking lots of questions.

We also need to manage expectations and educate the client on what is and is not possible. For example if a client wants a light, transparent watery floral that is long lasting but insists on only natural materials, they will be disappointed.

A questionnaire is a good place to start and I would suggest you insist they fill this in, on their own in writing and do not start work until it is complete. If the client will not put the effort in, then unless you know exactly what they want (and even then I would hesitate) you could end up putting a lot of work in going round in circles.

Once you have a clear idea of what they are looking for then I would arrange a session face to face (if that is the way you work) where they can actually smell some materials or accords to ensure you are on the right track.

Here are a selection of questions I have used in the past that have worked well and remember this is just a guide so feel free to add or subtract any you feel more appropriate.

  1. What smells fill you with joy? Why?
  2. Which of these, if any, would you like to be included in a fragrance.
  3. Does your ideal fragrance have a story? If so please tell me briefly.
  4. Describe in as much detail what you would like your bespoke fragrance to actually smell like using as many descriptors as possible. Please also use things that you wouldn’t usually associate with the sense of smell such as colour, texture, weight etc.
  5. Are you looking for 100% natural fragrance or is the end result more important to you than the ingredients?
  6. Why do you wear fragrance? If you currently don’t, then why not?
  7. Do you currently have a favourite fragrance? What do you like about it?
  8. What perfumes or other perfumed products do you love?
  9. Are there any smells or fragrances that you have an extreme reaction to, either positive or negative?
  10. Do you like realism or abstract?
  11. Do you dab or spray perfume?
  12. Do you have any allergies?
  13. Please include any other info that you feel is important to help me translate your ideas into a fragrance.

Have you created bespoke fragrances before? If so what questions did you ask? I would love to know what worked for you and what didn’t.

If you want to learn more about the art and craft of perfumery keep an eye on the courses page for regular online and in person classes

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