Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vera Winners!

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Anniversary celebration. The numerous entries were submitted into "the randomizer" which choose four lucky recipients of Vera natural perfume. If for some reason any of these individuals fail to respond then I have four more back up winners from the list.

Drum roll please.......the first winner is Diana who loves the combo of citrus and soft floral. Our second winner is Margaret who would love to see something rosey, maybe a bath oil. I'm thinking Margaret should definitely check out Rosa solid natural perfume and Vespertina. The third lucky recipient is Ginger who will probably be really happy with Vera since she likes herbal scents. Forth in our round up is Marija who would like to see Kramer's "The Beach" cologne come to fruition. Hmmm, since I didn't watch Seinfeld I don't know this scent and must do some research as I am very curious! In the meantime my two beachy scents are GreenWitch and Page47...the latter being my personal favorite.

Once again, many thanks to everyone who participated in all the various forms. I am super grateful. I invite you back to upcoming To Bee giveaways which many friends and fans will be hosting throughout July.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here We Bee

To Bee is emblematic of the warm, musky scent of the bee hive. I've come to love this particular fragrance and thought it would be the perfect theme for a perfume devoted to the bee. However, since not everyone is a lover of this most distinct "hive smell" and most would not want to smell that way, I used the theme only as a launching point.

The scent of the hive is a combination of warm, sweet, musky notes with threads of beeswax, honey with an earthy, vegetal undertone. I began the construction knowing that I wanted an Amber base and to use a few existing accords like the botanical Leather and Musk. One of the five versions created for To Bee was a bit too sweet thus I converted it into a Honey accord. The accords in the fragrance are:
  • Amber (Aumbre)
  • Botanical Musk (Figure 1:Noir)
  • Honey
  • Two different Wood accords
Instead of using the existing Leather accord verbatim I added most of the essences in that formula into the perfume as well as Beeswax and Sweet Clover Absolute. For the energetics of the sun and the warm quality I used several Spices and Saffron.

Technically To Bee is a natural perfume because bee by-products are considered an animal ingredient and not botanical. Thus the words "natural" or "natural, botanical" are appropriate. As with all my perfumes there are no synthetic aroma chems or isolates used as well as none of the historic animal ingredients such as civet, ambergris, etc.

One ingredient which is most plentiful in this fragrance is LOVE, I so adore the honey bee and everything about her. She is quite a magnificent creature.

In the base of the liquid I have incorporated a tincture of feral honey comb from different bee rescues. The solid has an infusion of the honey comb and uses both locally sourced beeswax and beeswax from my hives.

The name To Bee is a reference to whom the perfume was made in reverence to as well as the Shakespeare soliloquy from Hamlet "To be of not to be, that is the question?" After all, if we continue to destroy our natural environment the honey bee will become extinct and life as we know it will cease to exist.

Aromatically the fragrance is warm and inviting, there is the presence of vanilla, wood, leather, vegetal musk, hay, honey and spice...however, none of these notes predominate, at least to my nose. At this moment in time I have only had my two house mates, Greg and Eve, to experience the final perfume. Both said "Warm", Greg exclaimed "Wow, it smells like an ethereal flower." Soon a chorus of noses in the community will inhale and share their thoughts and scent perceptions, always a fun and exciting experience, a bit like Christmas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Path to the Sun

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot,
others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
~Pablo Picasso

Happy Solstice everyone! Friends and family in the southern hemisphere celebrate the return of the light while we here in the north end the longest day and begin the slow transition to the dark.

I've chosen this Summer Solstice for the imprint of the honey bee perfume. Today is the longest day of the year and one of the eight Earth festivals of the Celtic sacred year and the affiliations with the sun. The sun to the honey bee is not only their navigational system but also one of the keys to their well being. Since moving our hives to the full sun here in the woodland we have found the bees are much more energized and healthy. Honey bees have a built in ephemeris which they use when making they're daily forage trips and communicating where those nectar rich sites are located.

"Bees are the engines that keep the earth in bloom."
~Queen of the Sun press release

I'm slightly behind with all the labors associated with launching a perfume. These many varied tasks include:
  • Creating the formula for the perfume, then make it as a liquid and a solid
  • Filter the infusion and tincture
  • Write the copy and press release
  • Develop imagery which includes the photography
I'm just about done with all these elements, "To Bee" will make its debut in the E-shop momentarily along with more information appearing here in the morrow. Thanks for your patience.

"In summer, the song sings itself."
~William Carlos Williams

Sunday, June 19, 2011


In the wise words of the 11th century playwright of Elizabethan England:

"To be of not to be, that is the question?"

This simple soliloquy from Hamlet about "the advantages and disadvantages of existence"1 is easily applied to our current plight with the little honey bee. Hamlet contemplates "is it nobler to live miserably or to end one's sorrows with a single stroke?"

The human race now stands at a threshold with this same exact question and our annihilation of nature, agriculture and food as we know it. Since the media in the US is owned by many of the large mega-corporations who also own big agra and weapon companies, the public is often fed information that will either keep them in fear, feeling they have no power. More often inaccurate knowledge or none is shared, like the hazards of pesticides. In particular the neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid, made by Bayer and wisely banned in many European countries.

"Bees are the legs of plants."
~ Michal Pollan

As I sit here in the wooded hills of Southern California, with the intention to affect change, a perfume devoted to the honey bee will release with the Summer Solstice on June 21st. The fragrance is called "To Bee", inspired by the aroma of the bee hive.

Join us today as Beth casts the circle from Perfume Smellin' Things for a collective hymn to the honey bee, ongoing reviews and thoughts on this latest natural, botanical perfume. Beth shares the story of her father and his bee garden. Other participating bloggers include:

Tom at Perfume Posse
Lucy at Indie Perfume
Trish at Scent Hive
Donna at Perfume Smellin' Things
Margi MacDonald at Perfume Pharmer
Jade Shutes at the IDA blog
Elena at Perfume Shrine

As the reviews come in I will post them here at the blog. Many thanks to all the participants, the Backwards Beekeepers and filmaker Taggart Siegel. If you have the opportunity to see the documentary "Queen of the Sun" I highly recommend it, Taggart has done an excellent job in telling the story of the plight of our little honey bee.

Find out how you can bee of service to this most important pollinator and bee part of the solution check out this link at the Queen of the Sun website, 10 Things You Can Do To Help Bees.

1 Shakespeare Online

Photo ©RoxanaVilla of three honey bees, one with very full pollen sacks, on the Matilija poppies in my California native garden. This trio of bees might be from my two hives, not sure though.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Anniversary Celebration!

Four years ago on this day the journal, the website and Vera were launched at the Ojai Lavender Festival. It has been an interesting and wild ride, very much like the childrens book The Wind and the Willows. "Alternately slow moving and fast paced" is how Wikipedia describes the novel with a "mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie." All this and more can be applied to the last four years of illuminating the world with the how, what, when, where and why of botanical perfume.

To mark the occasion I have some festivities planned which include some play and gifts for the next week as we wind ourselves to the release of the new Bee inspired natural perfume.

The first part of the celebration is a free sample of the Vera natural solid in any order of $25 or over (not including tax or shipping). This is in addition to any other free sample that may be part of your order.

For the second part of the festivities I will be giving away Vera perfume related gifts to four lucky winners. If you are one of the lucky winners you can choose from these prizes:
- 1 gram vial of Vera liquid
- Honey bee pot of Vera solid
- A brand new mini compact with a tin of Vera solid (Pictured below, this is assuming they arrive. My supplier has been a major flake since last November!)

There are several ways to enter:

(1) Leave a comment of this blog post and tell me what new product or fragrance you would like to see manifest, ONE entry.

(2) Any purchase of $25 as of June 15th, will receive ONE entry. If your entry is for $50 that will count as TWO, if $75 that will count as THREE, etc.

(3) Review one of your favorite Illuminated Perfumes on Make Up Alley, Perfume of Life or another major perfume forum (THREE entries per each review). Reviews must be dated June 15, 2011 or there after. Please email me the link to confirm:

(4) Follow this journal, my tweets or the Roxana Illuminated Perfume facebook fanpage and you will receive ONE entry per each one. If you already are a follower please let me know.

(5) Tweet this celebration on Twitter with a link to to this post and you will receive ONE entry.

(6) Mention this celebration on your blog with a link to to this post and you will receive ONE entry. Please email me the link to confirm:

(7) Mention tthis celebration on Facebook with a link to to this post and you will receive ONE entry. Please email me the link to confirm:

(8) Answer any of these questions by sending an to e-mail:
a. What other flash animation appeared on the front page of the Illuminated Perfume website other than the one which is currently featured? TWO entries for a correct answer.
b. What are the names of my favorite perfumes? ONE entry for a correct answer.
c. Which fragrance blog or publication was the first to mention Roxana Illuminated Perfume? ONE entry for a correct answer.

The fine print...

1. The deadline for entering is June 26, 2011, at 10 pm (PST).
2. Entries will be placed into a random drawing and announced on this blog, twitter and facebook.

Thank you for your support over the years!

Images ©RoxanaVilla

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Legalizing Beekeeping: Step 1

Many thanks to Backwards Beekeepers Chelsea and Rob McFarland, as well as Maritza Portillo of the Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee! Not only did the motion on urban beekeeping pass UNANIMOUSLY, but two board members and a former Chair volunteered to have a hive at their homes.

The council approved a 2 month feasibility study to consider recommending legalizing beekeeping in LA. We still need to contact Bill Rosendahl ( to urge support for legalization. By the way, Bill Rosendahl is a superb human being.

Rob and Chelsea's speech was fantastic, they have put it up on their blog so you can read it and be inspired to approach your local community committee to do the same.

Opening image is from Chelsea and Rob's blog, some of the words were taken from them too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In bee time

The new perfume I have been working on will debut on June 21st, the Summer Solstice.
I have chosen this date because of the affiliations with the SUN which is an important component to our little honey bees. As mentioned in last years post the honey bee is often referred to as "The Queen of the Sun" because the massive fiery star acts as their compass and is one of the important factors in their survival.

As one who respects and keeps bees I've chosen to impart a treasured scent to beekeepers with this perfume, the "smell of the hive." In my opinion this particular odor is comprised of many notes including the wood of the box and frames, beeswax, propolis, pollen, nectar, capped honey, caramel and a feral musky note. The scent is warm, rather than cool.

The hive we saved back in early March termed The Red Barn bees has now been renamed to The Warrior Girls because they are rather fierce determined creatures. Aromatically their hive emits the strongest "bee odor" I have ever experienced, perhaps it is because they are such hard workers. In this particular hive the feral, musky note is extremely sexual, more pervasive than other hives, perhaps due to a very healthy, fertile queen.

To impart this ambrosia of a scent I am using some of my own existing accords with one new accord and supporting essences to impart notes which have specific historical and symbolic references. The Leather accord which is a component in Rosa and the key element in the Faux Ambergris accord is used for the animalic component. There is a brand new Bee base accord, the Musk accord from the chocolate perfume Noir, the Aumbre accord for warmth and a bit of the faux Ambergris accord. The later adds a hint of smoke in the composition to impart a tad of what the bee keeper might smell from "smoking" the bees during maintenance.

I have also tinctured and infused left over bee comb which will act as the base for the solid and liquid versions of the perfume in combination with the above mentioned accords, beeswax absolute at the heart and honey myrtle in the tops notes.

Although researchers have found that at one time there was a native honey bee in the Americas, Apis nearctica. Our current honey bee Apis mellifera L. arrived to North America with the Europeans in 1600. Thanks to this introduction the US was able to prospered with an economy based on agricultural. Rather ironic that four hundred years later the US based Monsanto, with their evil GMOs as well as the Bayer Company to wiping out our little key pollinator.

This evening I and many of my fellow holistic, urban beekeepers will attend a meeting in Mar Vista with the intention of legalizing beekeeping in Los Angeles. Please join us if you are in the area.

I have also been interviewing fellow holistic bee keepers and intend to release a new LookBook for the new fragrance. Stay tuned on June 19th as Beth Schreibman Gehring will cast the for this perfume devoted to the honey bee.

Ear to the Ground, information on Apis nearctica, the original native American honey bee.
History of the Honey bees arrival to America can be found at this site.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I saw this via a tweet by Grist and feel impelled to share with everyone I know. Intending others will share and we can finally have a massive wake up on the planet. I'm visualizing wild fires of the mind.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I am so happy to share this botanical perfume LookBook with you. I've been working on it for over a month. Enjoy!

Oud and Roses

"A true poet does not bother to be poetical.
Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses."
~ Jean Cocteau

The wild rose of the California woodlands is the inspiration of the botanical perfume Rosa which debuted back in October 2008 as a liquid perfume. I have just finished the new edition of the liquid which is now back in the E-shop with new photos. This botanical fragrance features the mystical and historical Oud from the far East. I used this earthy, woody note to bring in the wild quality of the woodland rose.

Since the wild roses bloomed two months ago I used a non-native variety for all the new photos. a few which are included here in the blog post with the rest slowly being uploaded to the Flickr pool.

In the third edition of the tribute to her favorite Rose perfumes in Sniffapalooza Magazine Rapahella wrote this:

"This is a gorgeous natural perfume and an instant hit with those that sniff this natural perfume. Many of us were fortunate to receive samples of Rosa at a Sniffapalooza event where Roxana Villa was a featured guest speaker. Roxana continues to amaze with her naturals perfumes and is garnering quite the reputation as a top natural perfumer. This is a fragrance that truly blooms. I consider this my top "metaphysical perfume" along side Amouage Attar.

The California wild roses at the bottom of our slope, known as Californica rosa, didn't bloom at all this year. I'm not sure why the flowers are so profuse in the wilderness but not here. Must ask a native plant expert, wonder if it has to do with this weird weather?

Read more about Rosa here at this journal.

Photos by Roxana Villa

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Gloom and Bloom

In Southern California we have a marine layer that tends to invade the Spring and Summer sunshine during the early part of the day titled May Grey and June Gloom. Although the weather has been generally odd, June Gloom has definitely arrived here in the woodland.

Along with the morning gloomies the showy white flowers of the Matilija (pronounced /məˈtɪlɨhɑː/ mə-til-i-hah) poppy in the garden are finally flowering! Although the bloom time is late compared to the other Matilija poppies in the local woodland, they are non the less quite spectacular. The flowers on these poppies are the largest of the family. A native to California and parts of Mexico they tend to prefer a warm, sunny spot. I planted mine in the mid section of the front slope where there is lots of room for the plant to spread. In the woodlands I've spotted clusters of these poppies in bloom in the hillsides on my way to Malibu and along the 405 just under the Getty. Seeing them all in a cluster is quite a show stopping spectacle, which I hope to facilitate here on our front slope amongst a variety of native sages and ceanothus.

California native gardening is similar to holistic bee keeping in that it requires a shift in consciousness from what we have been taught. In both activities one must suspend all preconceived ideas and delve into new territories of thought. Native plants, like the honey bees, require very little to survive. No chemical treatments or special handling is needed, just lots of patience and little to no assistance from humans.

A concept in alignment with native gardening and beekeeping is the slow food movement which comes out of Italy. Slow food ideology combines "ecology, gastronomy, ethics and pleasure." This concept can also be applied to botanical perfume. A love of the land, ecology and the simple pleasure of the senses combine with a deep reverence for nature.

Photos: Roxana Villa and Eve Neuhart

Friday, June 3, 2011

Worldwide Bee-ing

Here in the woodland we suited up last Saturday afternoon to check the bees and add another box. The girls were substantially calmer than in March when Roberta and Ceebs came by to do a hive check. Greg was a little un-nerved by the loud communal humming that radiated out from the hive as we quickly worked to add the forth box.

Regrettably they were building in a zig zag pattern in the third box. Rather than making a mess of capped honey and brood we choose to let them bee and only moved one frame up into the new box. Normally one would move about four of the outer frames up to encourage them to expand into new quarters. These gals are pretty focused, unlike our other hives, thus I'll betcha they started moving up immediately.

They now have four boxes and will more than likely need a fifth within a month or two. Fingers crossed that they'll have some extra honey to share with us by September. We will only take honey as long as they have enough of there own to survive the dearth which begins in August/September when nectar begins to run low. We prefer our girls feed themselves from their own honey rather than take all their stores and feed them sugar water, like the big industrial bee keepers.

Meanwhile, photographer Eric Tourneret has some amazing photos of beekeepers all over the world at his site The Bee Photographer. I highly suggest going to check it out!

The opening image is a graphic created by using photoshop to emboss the bee graphic into an existing photo, a la letterpress. I've been super bee-sy lately doing a lot of graphics for a cool little project and upcoming products. More to be revealed soon.