Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fresh Nose

A huge part of my work is educational, either spontaneously via interactions with customers and random encounters at social events; or intentionally through workshops and classes I offer. 
This past winter holiday season, I had a blast interacting with children at a Christmas show last year. Unlike their parents, they're not spoiled yet with misconceptions against fragrance (like so many folks in Vancouver - everyone claims to be "allergic", where in fact they are more like just ignorant and close-minded). These children's curiousity and sheer delight at smelling something new was so refreshing that it stuck with me for months after the fact! 

Time and again, I meet adults that are so jaded about perfume (and probably life in general). They act like they've seen it all, even though it is more likely that they are too scared to step out of their comfort zone and experience anything new. How many times have you met someone who just jumps at the opportunity to rather than just claim that they "live life to the fullest" (a cliché I hear so many times that I want to scream and run for the hills), where in fact, they just want to do the same thing over and over again because they identify with the notion of being "au naturele" or whatever their rational or made up ideology is behind not wearing fragrance is.

Back to those sweet kids: their enthusiasm was heartwarming and their natural curiousity was inspiring, to say the least. I had two main encounters with them that stuck with me. One was with two friends who were about seven or eight years old. They smelled and tried different perfumes and when one of the girls inquired about price, she wasn't discouraged because she could not afford it (the point when most adults glide their gaze elsewhere and remove themselves as swiftly as possible from my booth) - but was excited that she can try it on. I also mentioned to her the price of the samples, in case her allowance might be closer to that. The other girl, who was by then exploring the tucked-away Zodiac line, came back after a few minutes, and asked me if Taurus had a sample... So sweet! Of course I sent them off smelling heavenly and gave them pretty postcards and scent-cards with some of the scents they liked.

The other pair were a brother and a sister, probably about ten and eight, respectively. The girl was smelling and enjoying the display of testers, while the boy went on and on with questions about how perfumes are made, how oils are extracted, whether or not I grow the plants and distill them myself, all dotted with clever attention to detail and more interesting questions than many interviewers in professional magazines ever bother asking. I was hoping they will never leave my booth because the rest of the show was mind-dumbing boring, thanks to the uninterested crowds.

And then there was a woman older than my mother, who visited the booth and was probably more excited about the notion of having a perfumer in the city than any other person I've ever met. She sat there for hours, sniffing, sharing stories, swooning in pleasure and near-ecstasy elicited by the scents I've created (what an honour!) and inviting anyone who as much as peeked at my room to come in and marvel at the rarity of the opportunity of meeting the perfumer who created them.

While I'm more than just a tad tired and bitter about the current state of affairs in my city during craft and holiday shows, and in particular what seems to be like a pathetic downhill tumbling of the city's culture thanks to the sense of entitlement so many people seem to have whenever they interact with one another -- I am most thankful for these three occurrences of graceful interaction with future generations and with the lady who truly appreciates perfume. Don't ever underestimate what a kind word to an artisan or a small business owner can do. They might just decide to not quit thanks to you!

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At February 17, 2015 11:12 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Aw, I hear you. Sometimes I think children appreciate my work more than their parents do. It's gratifying either way, but the kids are usually the more expressive ones.

Speaking of "au naturelle," I remember you describing how jasmine has an "indole note" at one of your tea parties. People looked confused and you had to blunt-point explain that indole means "fecal note." Not everyone wanted to smell the jasmine after that. I bet the kids would have. ;-)


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