Imagine my surprise then, when I received an email from Sue Phillips, the CEO of Scenterprises. Scenterprises is the US equivalent of The Perfume Studio over here, of which I used to be an associate. I helped people create their own custom perfume from 'building blocks' in the form of 18 pre-prepared accords / blends, which had in turn been created by a UK perfumer, whose name escapes me now(!), but who had worked with The Body Shop, and whose understated style had garnered praise from Luca Turin himself. And here my blog post about my own experience as a punter, which is what prompted me to become involved as a facilitator.
Sadly, I gave up the job after about a year, because I couldn't make any money from it after the cost of materials and packaging - it was taking me three hours in all, half of which was spent on the session with the client, and half in setting up the room to create a nice ambience, making up their chosen scent afterwards, and clearing away after they'd gone. We were encouraged to offer the experience for one person at about £40 - having just checked the website, that seems to still be the case.
By contrast, I see that Scenterprises charges $500 for what I take to be a broadly equivalent one-to-one service in the US. This is in New York, mind you, where people clearly have a lot more disposable income than in The Midlands, and where the venue would be be subject to higher overheads. On the face of it, it does still strike me as a big differential between our two continents, though.
|Some of the blends as they were in 2010|
So that was by way of background...I am getting to the bit about Ellena now...as Sue mentioned in her email:
"I loved your post about Jean Claude Ellena and met him and his wife Susanna (who is the niece of Samuel Beckett), so I got the reference!"
The thing is, the reference was quite fortuitous! Sue elaborated further in the course of our email exchange:
"I worked with Jean Claude when I was at Elizabeth Arden and he had worked on Lagerfeld for Men in collaboration with a US perfumer friend of mine, and when I visited him and Susanna I was overwhelmed at all the Beckett first issues and books."
Well, what a remarkable and satisfying coincidence, for I had no idea that Jean-Claude Ellena had any family connection - even by marriage - to Samuel Beckett!
So that was one surprising thing. But there's more... For while at The Fragrance Shop chatting to the sales assistants about Muguet Porcelaine, I clocked the deep discount on Mary Greenwell's range of fragrances, including Plum,which is the only one I have tried personally. I mentioned it in my previous post, and also on Facebook, where it prompted a small stampede(!) of people worldwide, availing themselves of this offer, partly on a blind basis, which readers know I don't normally condone, haha.
Anyway, Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes was one such who took the plunge and found that Plum wasn't in fact quite her cup of tea. And she has kindly offered to donate her bottle to a giveaway on Bonkers, and post it from Papillon HQ free of charge to the winner. So not only do you bag a bottle of Plum - it may even be the 100ml size, I can't recall - but one which has spent a little while in the lively menagerie which is Liz's home and studio, which I am betting will considerably increase its cachet!
So many thanks to Liz for her generosity. Then in order to be eligible for the giveaway you have to be in the UK, alas, after my recent overseas mailing misdemeanours, painfully documented here.
And please also leave a comment saying why you would like to win a bottle of Plum, whether you know it already, and if not, what you plan to do with the bottle if you don't like it when it comes! ;)
The draw will close on Sunday 7th August at midnight, UK time (well, obviously). Liz will mail the bottle at her earliest convenience once I have notified her of the winner's details.
But here's the other funny thing. The perfumer for Mary Greenwell is François Robert, and blow me, if he isn't the new perfumer behind the blends for The Perfume Studio!
I have had a look at the website and the notes in the different blends have changed since I worked with the company, so I would be curious to smell Robert's creations and see how they compare to the ones I remember. In the absence of myself, it seems I would have to go to Manchester, Stratford-upon-Avon or Nottingham to find out firsthand...;)