Friday, December 7, 2012
Let's get authentic, shall we - Part 1
The biggest challenge for the authentic, botanical perfumer is that many people have no clue as to what a "botanical" perfume is, let alone one that is made by hand with a mission to illuminate the hearts and minds of sentient beings around the world.
Although I do everything I can think of to describe my products with as much clarity as possible, there always seems to be room for more, thanks the nemesis who is willing and ready to help you refine.
Here's a case in point, a gal purchased 1 gram of Impromptu in a vial, I packaged up the order and sent out the next day. She received it within one day and wrote...
"The fragrance is admittedly exquisite - I can't stop smelling the wrist I applied it to - but the quantity is simply too little for the price.. especially given that this a relatively dilute alcohol-based product."
So, she loved the actual item but thought it was too much money. Ummm, Impromptu is the less expensive perfume in my shop, gee, good thing she didn't order GreenWitch! Dilute, Impromptu, wow I have never heard that term associated with this fragrance. She must be using some pretty toxic synthetic perfumes or her nose is totally fried. Probably both.
I contacted her back to get some clarity and explained that I make perfumes by hand using botanical materials. She wrote back the following...
"Thanks for getting back to me. Let me reiterate that 'Impromptu' is phenomenal - one of the most gorgeous fragrances I've ever experienced. I also acknowledge that it is a hand-made product.
However, the price ($15) still seems too high for the quantity (.5 g). For instance, a .7 ml 'sample' of By Kilian's 'Incense Oud' Eau de Parfum, one of the higher-priced 'niche' fragrances, is available at an online supplier for $5. Both 'Impromptu' and the 'Incense Oud' EDP are alcohol-based. If .7 mL of pure alcohol is equal to .5 grams of the same (I ran the calculation based on an 18 mL = 14 g conversion formula supplied on a U.S. government web site), then you are charging three times the cost of a By Kilian oud/agarwood eau de parfum for your product.
I would suggest charging a more realistic price for your product, one that's more in line with what your competitors in the marketplace are charging."
I am being compared to Killian, how fascinating. Gosh, there is so much here to address, I could write a book. Here is what I am considering writing back, feel free to give me ideas...
"Thanks again for getting back to me with your insights. I am really grateful for this dialogue as it has helped me refine my listing of Impromptu and myself as an artist
Impromptu is a handmade, botanical perfume. Thus, to compare apples to apples I suggest running the numbers based on a comparable brand.
Let's break things down, here is an article titled "Behind the Spritz" which goes into perfume costs for big brands, notice the marketing budget.
The reason these fragrances are so inexpensive is that they are using synthetic fragrance materials. One of the perks of these materials, besides that they are very cheap, is that they are stable and since they are fabricated with petro chemicals (plastics) will last on the skin for a very long time, sometimes forever, like the prevalent synthetic musk keytones.
In your note you mention alcohol, this is a really good example to use as a comparison. Bigger brands like Killian use standard perfumers alcohol which is ethanol combined with other ingredients. The alcohol I use comes from a small lab in Oregon that produces beverage/pharmaceutical grade, 190 proof grape alcohol. I often infuse my alcohol with plant matter, usually grown organically from my native plant garden.
Unlike Killian, who by the way doesn't actually make his perfume, he is just an art director working with a perfume house. I work on all levels of my product, from concept, formulation, growing the plant materials and everything involved with marketing including the photographs, graphics and words. My palette is botanical, the way perfumes were made hundreds of years ago before synthetics were synthesized in a lab. Although I refrain from using isolates and historic animal ingredients. Since I have a background in aromatherapy I bring that knowledge to my work as well as the very finest raw materials available to both the aromatherapist and the botanical perfumer.
For the Killian brand this is not even an option because they would have to charge exuberant fees for their fragrances and also could not compete in the world-wide, retail perfume world, which btw, I am not part of.
My intention is to make the most exquisite botanical perfumes that will bring awareness to nature, thus the word "illuminated" in my company title.
Impromptu has garnered a huge following and raves by the perfume blogging arena. My niche market isn't those who buy Killian, it is a much smaller, select group of aware individuals. Roxana Illuminated Perfume is appreciated in over 70 different countries and within every single state in the US. The customer base ranges from: those who are allergic to synthetics; want to support the lost art of botanical perfume; the vision of the brand; those who want a perfume crafted by the hand of an artist; those who want to support nature and a combination of those. As you can see, this has nothing to do with the brand Killian or even the product they produce which is almost completely synthetic, although they don't want you to believe that. Also, take into account that Killian is being sold at retail outlets, my fragrances are only sold by me, online, at the moment.
Of all my fragrances Impromptu is the least expensive because it was created as a gift to my patrons, all my other 1 gram samples begin at $25."
So there you have it, the ball is back in her court.
Talking to someone about botanical vs synthetic is akin to talking to a Republican, it is probably point less. However, at the very least it helps me to refine my position.