Cheers to Tapputi

800px-Myths_and_legends_of_Babylonia_and_Assyria_(1916)_(14801964123)I have a lame excuse that tends to keep me from following through on ideas: someone has already done this thing, and surely much better than I.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people find themselves in the thralls of similar thought processes. Especially in today’s society, with social media providing potentially distorted and incomplete stories, it’s easier than ever the compare oneself to others and their accomplishments.

In the same vein, though, it’s easy to find inspiration and ideas by looking at people who have gone through the trial and error to develop a skill or accomplishment that you admire.

No one can really be the first at anything anyway—at least, not for certain. The best we can point to is the first record of something.

Like the first perfumer, for instance. Who could it have been?

The first record of a perfumer is one of a chemist named Tapputi who was mixing up scents around 1200 BC. This, anyway, is when a certain cuneiform tablet from Babylonian Mesopotamia was written, mentioning her role as a perfumer and overseer of the Royal Palace. The tablet describes Tapputi and an assistant as being perfumers who used methods like distillation to extract the essences of various materials.

Not only is Tapputi the first perfumer on record, but she is the first known chemist, too.

To those websites I found who referred to Tapputi as a “he”—I scoff at you and am saddened by your assumptions. There are entire books dedicated to shining light on non-male scientists who have had a huge influence on the field throughout history. Check out the aptly-named “Women of Science: Righting the Record,” a collection of essays written by female scientists about female scientists. Or look at “Women in Chemistry: Their Changing Roles from Alchemical Times to the Mid-Twentieth Century, ” by Marelene F. Rayner-Canham and Geoffrey W. Rayner-Canham. Both mention Tapputi as the first chemist and perfumer. Let us give credit where credit is due.

In the latter publication, the two authors speculate that perfumery would have come naturally to women because so many of the materials and tools would have been tools also used with culinary endeavors in the kitchen. Cooking and baking in particular are definitely their own forms of chemistry. I remember fondly my first day of chemistry class in high school when my teacher brought in cookies made of three different recipes and had us compare their recipes with their tastes. You could have a similar type of fun with three different perfumes which, like cookies, each have their own specific recipes.

Was Tapputi a good cook? I don’t know. What did her perfumers smell like? I don’t know that either. What I do know is that Tapputi did the thing—and probably well, if people were making records of her work. Perhaps she had some unknown mentor that taught her about distillation and mixing essences. Or maybe she taught herself everything on her own. One thing is certain—she didn’t let any ideas about unoriginality stop her. She experimented, discovered, and produced perfumes that people could enjoy.

by Katrina Eresman

Finding Scent, Light, and Well-Being at the Krohn Conservatory

This past Thursday I made my way to the Krohn Conservatory for the second time in three days. It was 3:23 p.m. when I arrived, and the late afternoon lighting gave the greenhouse a significantly different feel than that of my 1:30 p.m. visit two days prior. It’s one of many subtleties that make this Cincinnati greenOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhouse ever-changing and worth regular visits.

I decided to invest in a membership to the Krohn, since I’ve found it’s such a true haven during the winter. It’s not just the cold of winter that gets to me. It’s the sterility of the environment, the fact that there are no lush, natural smells like in other seasons. Winter perhaps has its own smells, or the implication of smells if nothing else. The sharpness of ice, or the rich smell of wet, dead leaves when that ice melts.

There’s also the silence—winter is often so quiet. But this element, and the others I mentioned, are all resolved in the Krohn Conservatory just by its nature. The greenhouse, which was built in 1933, is open year-around and houses over 3,500 species of plants from all over the world. Since two of its main rooms are the Palm House and the Tropical House, the temperatures are always warm inside, the soil and air are moist, and the atmosphere is filled with a scent that I feel is best described as “green.” A 20-foot waterfall in the Palm House creates a constant, ambient rush of sound.

Krohn Conservatory is one of many prized gems in Cincinnati, the home of Possets Perfume. It started as a much smaller greenhouse in 1894, then called the Eden Park Greenhouse. To get to the Krohn Conservatory, one has to drive up a winding hill through Eden Park, past some remarkable views of the Ohio River, classic to Cincinnati style. When you approach the glass Art Deco building that is the Krohn, you immediately lay eyes on big, flat, green leaves that are pushing themselves against the windows, trying to get closer to the sun.

When you walk in, the overwhelming but welcome smell of earth greets you at the door. It smells warm and alive and had me eager to get a closer smell of the components that make up this powerful scent. But as I walked the path around both the Palm House and the Tropical House, close sniffs and examination of most of these plants revealed nothing to me. Of course, I am only an amateur seeking to learn. Perhaps a more trained nose could find the subtleties that blend to make the natural, earthy perfume that fills the air. As for me, I hardly found any distinguishable scents, save for a few light and sweet blossoms of hibiscus or powderpuff.

I stuck my nose here and there. Despite my cluelessness, I was still determined to experience the Krohn Conservatory with all of the senses. I leaned into a corner of the soil where retired pink powderpuff blossoms have fallen next to begonias that creep around ferns. The soil smelled like wet earth, reminded me of playing outside after a rainstorm. I wondered how the scent would translate as a perfume on the body before wandering into the next room where citrus trees and bright hyacinths filled the air with vivid smells—smells that I could pick out.

I expect that as the seasons change and the cycles move forward, the smells inside of the Krohn will evolve and change, like the lighting does over just a period of hours. I’m looking forward to revisiting regularly with my (very affordable) annual membership. It’s a glorious little haven in the winter, and while I spend my down time reading there I will also be keeping an open eye and nose for the changes that occur to the thousands of plants within.

 

Katrina Eresman

A Rose for St. Fabian’s Day

What does holiness smell like? If you turn to Catholic tradition for your answer, you’ll find that it smells floral. At least, that’s one of the biggest notes often used to describe the odor of sanctity, an alleged smell given off by the body of a Saint who has recently passed. The flowery smell drifts up from the body in one final indication that this person was in close connection with the divine during their life.

Lots of people translate the “odor of sanctity” in this way—as the literal scent that emanates from a saintly corpse. Others take the phrase to be more abstract. In such an interpretation, the odor of sanctity refers to the holy aura of a Saint, their pure state of being and their freedom from mortal sin at death. To die in such conditions is to die in the odor of sanctity.

When the odor of sanctity is described as an actual smell, it’s usually said to contain hints of flowers like roses and lilies, or spices like myrrh and cinnamon. The best of these notes are combined in the Possets blend St. Fabian Perfume Oil, which Fabienne created to honor her patron saint.

She first released this perfume in 2008, and described its origins in a blog post on St. Fabian’s Day in 2011. Here she gives a brief history of St. Fabian himself, and what made him a remarkable holy figure. The legend says that St. Fabian was elected as Pope when a dove landed on his head. The arrival of the bird was interpreted as a sign from the Holy Ghost that Fabian, once a humble farmer, was meant to be the next Pope. You’ll find that the St. Fabian Perfume Oil features a dove on its label as a reference to this piece of the story.

Fabienne dedicates most of her post to a more complete story of what made St. Fabian a leader worth honoring. For instance, during his time as Pope, he was able to retrieve the bones of two late saintly figures who had died in exile so that they could receive proper burials in Rome. When St. Fabian passed, if the lore of the odor of sanctity is true, he surely must have been surrounded by a cloud of rosy, resinous scent.

In keeping with Fabienne’s tradition, Possets will only sell the St. Fabian Perfume Oil blend on St. Fabian’s Day, January 20th, from 12:00 midnight to 11:59 p.m. here. Its main note is a fresh rose accord that immediately transports you to a lovely spring garden. A touch of amber and incense finishes this simple, feminine, beautiful perfume.

If you’re living in a place with a cold winter (like the presently snow-covered Cincinnati) this rosy perfume might be a great tool for wishing away the winter blues. And even if you’re not, the scent of holiness as interpreted by Fabienne is still a beautiful Possets oil to add to your collection. I’m addicted to its light, natural beauty, and would have to feel in awe of anyone who smelled this way during their transition into the afterlife.

Katrina Eresman

The Sexy But Obsolete Method of Enfleurage

birdbottle

Tom Robbins’ novel “Jitterbug Perfume” spends part of its narrative following a perfumer named Madame Lily Devalier. She and her assistant V’lu are in New Orleans attempting to craft their comeback perfume as part of a plot that follows a handful competing perfumers (and a couple of immortals, too). They’re looking to create the perfect ingredients, so when Madame Devalier finally gets her hands on some of the finest jasmine flowers this side? of the Mississippi, she knows that she has to be careful. Jasmine flowers are ever so dainty and fragile, and unlike a rose, you can’t get its scent from steam distillation. No, flowers like jasmine and orange blossoms require a special treatment. And when this dawns on Madame Devalier, she exclaims, “So you know how we are going to handle it? Papa’s fat!”

Hmm? you may say. Fat in perfume?

Yes, what this boisterous, sneaky, competitive perfume genius is talking about is enfleurage, a process of extracting essences that’s over a century old. Enfleurage uses animal fats to draw the scent out from the more delicate flowers. These scents are soluble in the fats, so that when the flowers are soaked in lard or tallow long enough, the fat will become saturated with their essence. From there, the scented fat—aka enfleurage pomade—takes a bath in ethyl alcohol, which causes the fragrant molecules to leave the fat in favor of the alcohol.

For centuries enfleurage remained a choice way to get some of the finest essential oils from plants. The process is long and tedious, and for that reason is no longer commercially viable. Since its development, perfumers have found more efficient ways of extracting the scents from flowers that aren’t distillation friendly.

Like many things that are forced to prioritize functionality and practicality, the newer methods sacrifices the romantic, sensual, and beautiful qualities of enfleurage. The process of enfleurage would last for multiple days, the fats taking their time to patiently, gently call forth every molecule of scent from the blossoms. Flowers or petals would be placed by hand between two glass plates, both covered in a layer of fat. A wooden frame was used to press and hold the two plates together with the plants and fat in between. It took anywhere from one to three days for the fats to draw every fragrant molecule out of the plants, at which time the old flowers were replaced with a fresh batch. Another day or two would pass, and they would be replaced again until the enfleurage pomade had become satisfyingly scented.

As was true with perfumers in the non-fiction world, Madame Devalier was well-aware of the effectiveness of this old, traditional method that her father and the perfumers before them would use. It would take hours, but when you’re dedicated to the product, who cares? The long process of enfleurage is as lush and rich as a powerful floral scent itself.

If you’re a curious and driven DIY kind of person, take note that enfleurage is a relatively accessible project. It just takes time, patience, and plenty of flowers. But with spring a ways off on the horizon, you might be able to find generous resources—like violets—that could serve as a perfect ingredient for experimentation. There are a number of instructional tools online, like this one from “The Aromatherapy Book” by Jeanne Rose, which has you using carrier oils rather than fats. If you decided to embrace some form of enfleurage with some of the flowers from your garden or elsewhere, be sure to let us know how it goes!

Better Than Gold: What Makes Frankincense and Myrrh Worthy of Holy Gifting

Epiphany-1-1

Since I grew up going to a nondenominational church, Christmastime always had some religious undertones. There was never a Christmas season that lacked a reading about the birth of Christ. I’d heard it so many times that as a child I tended to zone out a little. But there was one mental image that always grabbed my attention—the gifts from the three wise men.

With most stories I cherished as a child, there are particular images still with me, ingrained into my mind. Some are from pictures in the books, and some are from my imagination. Since most Bibles aren’t picture books, I think I am responsible for the image of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the three Magi brought to baby Jesus. Maybe it was just me equating these unfamiliar substances with the gold they accompanied, or maybe it was thanks to the theatrical reading of some Sunday school teacher out there somewhere. Somehow I obtained a mental picture of three fellows making a long journey on foot, pushing against harsh winds, their eyes squinting, and their arms cradling vessels filled with glittering, precious jewel-like substances that stood out like comets against the black, empty night.

Truthfully, my idea about these satchels was not so far off. Both frankincense and myrrh are resins that come from specific tree saps. The sap is collected and dried, and what’s left are little gem-like rocks, usually in shades of amber. When packaged with the gold, this Biblical gift set must have looked quite lovely.

As far as I can tell, there’s no direct answer as to why these were the three gifts specifically chosen for such a momentous occasion beyond that at the time, frankincense and myrrh would have been just as valuable, if not more so, than gold. Thus it may have just been a very sophisticated and generous gesture. Other people have speculated that the two resins were gifted for their health benefits. Because, like many natural essential oils, the oils extracted from these resins are said to do more than just give off pleasant scents.

Like what, you ask? Well frankincense—which has a sweet, almost floral smell—is known as an anti-inflammatory, and it’s also used in many beauty products for its benefits to the skin. Frankincense is known to decrease wrinkles and scars, and to get ride of dark circles under the eyes. (Of course, baby Jesus probably wasn’t too worried about wrinkles.)

The frankincense gifted by the Magi could have also been intended for ceremonial purposes. The resin has been used for thousands of years with meditation, in sanctuaries, and in religious ceremonies. It’s mentioned quite a few times in the Bible. In fact, there’s so much to be said about this resin and oil that there are entire books written about its history.

Contrary to frankincense, myrrh has a very earthy, heavy scent that might call to mind dirt or the bark of a tree. Its name means “bitter,” and while its pungent scent may be described as that, it’s still adored and used in all sorts of perfumes and incenses. It’s also used in its own share of skin care products. Myrrh has healing properties, too, as it can treat minor skin ailments and relieve pain from aching muscles.

Myrrh is particularly known for its role as an antiseptic in oral hygiene products. Add a couple of drops of pure, natural myrrh essential oil to your toothpaste before brushing next time for an additional oral hygiene boost. It has its own long history, playing big roles in Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic healing, religious ceremonies, and more. There’s just as much to be learned about myrrh as there is about frankincense, so if you’re curious and want to go deeper into its current and historic uses you should have no trouble finding resources.

Perhaps now you might have some better understanding of why these two humble resins earned a starring role in a seriously famous story. Of course you can find both frankincense and myrrh in many different Possets scents, including one of my favorite Yule Retour scents, Saturn. But I also recommend getting your hands on some essential oils—or even the natural resins—of both of these scents and exploring them in their purest state.

Whether you’ll be reading the story of the Three Wise Men or celebrating the end of December with some other tradition, I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Yule season.

by Katrina Eresman

 

Celebrating the Solstice with Personal Rituals

wintersolstice

It’s the week before Christmas, and most people are trying to hustle to make it to that Holiday finish line. I, on the other hand, have forgotten about this race this year. My eyes have been set on another date that rings far more important to my needs this season—the winter solstice. The shortest day and longest night of the year marks the official start of winter on December 21, 2017. I first began looking forward to the solstice to set my sights on the start of longer days. Like so many folks, I can fall victim to seasonal depression, and the early sunsets hit me hard. I’ve been holding on to the comforting fact that, come December 21, the sun will stay out just a little longer each day.

As I considered the solstice, I began to also view and appreciate it as the mark of a new cycle. Our lives are full of cycles, whether they be marked by time or personal patterns. Since the winter solstice marks the beginning of a new astronomical cycle, it feels far more relevant to me than New Year’s Day, which only marks the change of the calendar.

With all of this in mind, I decided that this year I will celebrate the solstice. I want to honor the change in our solar system, the change that all living beings on this earth have in common. But I also want to use the solstice to acknowledge and meditate upon my own recent changes and my goals moving forward.

In considering how I might do this, I looked into some traditional forms of celebration. Persons of many cultures have been paying tribute to the solstice for thousands of years. There are monuments designed to highlight the solstice sun all over the world. For instance, Ireland has Newgrange, England has Stonehenge, and Ohio has Serpent Mound. All of these ancient monuments are, in some way, aligned with the solstice sun. If the opportunity presents itself, it may be meaningful to travel to a site like this, or some other nearby location that was built to honor astronomical movements.

I myself might make the two-hour drive to Serpent Mound, where the various points of the 1,348 foot-long snake point to sunrises and sunsets of the equinoxes and solstices. Or I may just travel to one of my favorite Cincinnati parks to watch the sun go down.

A friend of mine is visiting her family in Alaska for the Holidays. They’ll only see the sun for a handful of hours on December 21. For them, the solstice is a big deal. Friends and family gather together, sharing a big pot of soup and catching up into the dark evening. It sounds like an excellent way to combat the seasonal blues, so I plan to make a dinner with friends a big part of my evening on Thursday.

A quick search on the internet reveals a number of suggested ways to celebrate—evergreen wreathes, candles, journaling. These all sound lovely and pleasant. The important thing is to follow your own intuition. Winter is traditionally a time for introspection, so meditating, writing, and listening to your own needs may be just the thing this winter solstice.

Essential oils, incense, and other sources of scent have been used for centuries as a way to ground oneself during meditation. They’re particularly nice at this time of year, since the natural oils can bring in the uplifting energies of the outdoors at a time when mother nature seems a bit too frigid to be receptive. The all-natural Winter Solstice Possets scent is a nice blend for meditation and relaxation all winter long. It’s composed of 100% natural oils, and gives off an uplifting, slightly spicy scent that seems to both awaken and ground.

This Possets scent is not to be confused with the Snow Solstice perfume oil, which is a much more playful scent that gives off wisps of sweet coconut. Wear the Winter Solstice for your moments of solitude and put on the Snow Solstice for the dinner party afterwards.

by Katrina Eresman

 

Baudelaire’s Love of the Exotic Natural Scent

tumblr_n2loykG7VF1rrnekqo1_500In 1857, French poet Charles Baudelaire published a collection of poems titled Les Fleurs du mal, or The Flowers of Evil. The poems are filled with sultry themes like eroticism, and proved too risqué for the times. In fact, not only were six of the poems banned for almost a century, Baudelaire was tried alongside his publisher for releasing poems that outraged public decency.

Lucky for us, Les Fleurs du mal in today’s context is a celebrated example of modern poetry. Its poems explicitly explore passion in a way that many current audience members embrace, viewing it through tools such as memory and scent.

Having been a student of both literature and the French language, I crossed paths with Baudelaire several times in college. But his works never quite hooked me like the works of some other French writers. I felt like the timing wasn’t right, as is often the case.

I’m not sure if I’m in love with his writing yet, but I have rekindled an interest in his poems. This started when I read a reference to him in the book “Essence and Alchemy” by Mandy Aftel. She writes about him several times, describing him as a poet who was willing to “write about erotic scent in an entirely frank way.” I turned back to Les Fleurs du mal to find poems referencing perfume in passionate contexts. For instance, in the piece “Lethe,” which was one of the six banned poems, Baudelaire writes about seeking refuge in the presence of an old lover, saying:

 

If I would swallow down my softened sobs

It must be in your bed’s profound abyss—

 

And earlier, he references the solace of his lover’s natural scent:

 

I want to hide the throbbing of my head

In your perfume, under those petticoats,

And breathe the musky scent of our old love,

The fading fragrance of the dying rose.

 

Much of the perfume that Baudelaire speaks of in Les Fleurs du mal is the natural scent unique to each human. To him, these perfumes evoke memories, passions, and comfort—as many scents do with me and probably you as well.

The love for a person’s natural perfume, be it your own or another’s, is a theme that has been embraced many times by the honest poet. And if you ask me, Baudelaire wasn’t the first. When Aftel praises Baudelaire for his daring mention of body scent in an sensual context, I feel that she fails to acknowledge another poet who was exploring this idea before Les Fleurs du mal was released. In his long, rambling, totally inspired poem “Song of Myself,” published in 1855, Walt Whitman makes several mentions of the arousing effects of body odor. One particularly famous line is “The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,” but that’s just one modest example.

I have more to say about scent and perfume in the context of “Song of Myself,” but I’ll save that for another post. For now I just want to praise the Possets scent Jeanne DuVal Mistress of Charles Baudelaire. If you’ve dreamt of a way to balance the potent, natural bodily scent with a sweet, wearable bottled perfume, this is it. Rather than encouraging the wearer to cover up their own smell, as aggressively sweat and powdery perfumes might do, Jeanne DuVal Mistress of Charles Baudelaire pays homage to the subject of many of Baudalaire’s poems by balancing musky, earthy, and sexy in one bottle. It seems to be just the type of balance that Fabienne had in mind when she created this blend in honor of Jeanne DuVal, and it does well to mimic the natural scent that turned on this French poet again and again.

by Katrina Eresman

 

 

A Yule Retour Spotlight

ac735009f11d84dc9936e12db9b1770aWhen I first met up with Tom and Jennie this fall, they were preparing to launch the Yule Retour. They told me it was all of the scents Fabienne had ever released around this time of year. I pictured a festive shelf decorated with pine branches and scarlet ribbon, lined with 20 to 30 transparent bottles of perfume magic. What modest anticipations I had for this Yule Retour!

Instead, the retour includes 180 unique and imaginatively seasonal scents. Tom invited me back over to the Possets atelier in order to explore the Yule Retour collection myself—all 180 bottles of it.

Do not get me wrong—I love to sniff things. I don’t just stop and smell the roses, I also stop and smell the tree bark, the spice cabinet, the puzzle box, or anything that might intrigue me. But as much as I love to smell things, the task of giving 180 scents the attention that they deserved seemed daunting. Nevertheless, I worked my way through the shelves of Possets Perfumes and experienced everything from the sweetest vanillas to the most pungent smoky undertones. After much deliberation, I managed to choose what might be my three favorite scents from the Possets Yule Retour of 2017. Here are the results.

Liquid Tinsel

If I place a drop of Liquid Tinsel onto my wrist, close my eyes, and sniff, one image immediately comes to mind. It’s a single fir tree, in the midst of its brethren trees but slightly set apart. Its branches are covered in soft, glittery snow, and the moon beams hit it like a spotlight. It’s a beautiful, peaceful sight, but it also looks a little tasty, like maybe the snow is actually sugar covering some minty fir branches…

But wait! That’s just the sugary peppermint note in the Liquid Tinsel perfume that gives me just the slightest carving for a candy cane. The peppermint mixes well with the sentimental Holiday fir smell. It’s the right balance of nostalgia, sweetness, and a little earthy sass from that snowy fir tree.

Lipstick on the Egg Nog Carton

You’ll find all sorts of food references in the Yule Retour. I was pleasantly surprised going through bottles like Mincemeat Pie and Meat Candy. But the one kitchen-related scent that I was particularly fond of was Lipstick on the Egg Nog Carton.

Eggnog is another one of those things that’s notoriously associated with the Holidays. I love a glass of eggnog—especially when you put a little rum in it—but would I want to wear it as my scent? I wasn’t so sure. However, this Possets Perfume found a way to my heart and my skin. The scent of eggnog is in there, and there’s not doubt about it. But that spicy, nutmeg-y scent blends well with a collection of feminine floral scents. Would the lipstick-wearing intruder be wearing such a collection of florals? Absolutely, and probably with a fur coat, too. Thus both the name and the scent paint a perfect picture of the wild and naughty refrigerator pitstop itself.

Saturn

Tinsel and eggnog? Easy Holiday associations. But Saturn? It’s possible that this scent earned its spot in the Yule season as a reference to the ancient Roman festival Saturnalia which honored the god Saturn between December 17-23. And to me this scent is what I would imagine a god wearing. It’s a little complicated, almost difficult to confront at times, but rewarding in its complexity. If you pay close attention, you’ll find a sweet and sensitive floral note, too.

I love the Saturn perfume for its unexpected nature, but also for the strange juxtaposition of a dark and mysterious planet with the warm and familiar Christmas season. If you want to take that juxtaposition further, try looking up the sounds of Saturn, as detected by the Cassini spacecraft, and listening to that after your favorite carol. It’ll give you a startle that’s just as attention-grabbing as this scent, but much less addictive than the intriguing perfume itself.

What are your favorite scents in the Yule Retour? I’d love to hear about what you’re wearing this season and what about the perfume draws you in!

by Katrina Eresman

A New Member of the Possets Team

cropped-wordpflowers.jpg

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

We are pleased to introduce Katrina, a multi-talented young woman who has joined our team. She will be blogging for Possets as well as assisting in other areas. Not only does Katrina have a deep passion for perfume, she is an accomplished writer and a touring musician. We are very happy to have Katrina aboard.

Enjoy!


 

Greetings, dear readers. My name is Katrina and I’m the newest member of the Possets team, here to put the words to the scents, and to gush about all things perfume. I can’t tell you how giddy I am to be here. I can, however, tell you a little about how it came to be.

Growing up, I saw perfume as a distant luxury, untouchable like a pearl necklace. I learned from my mother to protect my nice things. She never really had any perfume, but if she did I expect she would have kept it in its neat box, guarded from daily use. I, too, was always frugal with my fancy things—and for me as a kid that meant Bonne Bell Lip Smacker chapsticks. I’d save my favorite tubes of this ’90s staple for special occasions because I was too afraid to use them up. Similarly, when I visited Fragonard perfumery during my high school French class trip to Paris, I cherished my golden bottle of the feminine and floral Ile D’Amour so much that I barely used it. When my interest in perfume was recently ignited, I returned to the bottle only to find that a portion of it had evaporated. I decided that from that moment forward I would indulge in the ceremony of perfume regularly and liberally.

Before I became interested enough to check in on my fancy French souvenir, I found myself reading the book “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins. The novel is a gritty, lively exploration of three competing perfumers and their passion for scent, as well as two lovers in Ancient Eurasia on the hunt for immortality. The book spawned my interest in the behind-the-scenes elements of perfume. I was struck by the wild devotion of the of the characters’ passion. One perfumer in particular, Priscilla, works as a waitress only to afford her expensive oils for her perfumes which she then mixes passionately late into the night in her tiny, messy apartment. The mad-scientist aspect of the process was appealing to me.

At the same time, another angle of the perfume world was working its way into my mind. In my mid-20s (speaking as someone who is freshly 28) I found myself spending a lot more time in the woods and being enriched by every minute under the canopy of trees. I grew more perceptive to the scents I found in nature, and began to make the connection between the smells and the plants and substances that they came from. Nature itself is so magical to me, and the idea that a person can forage bits of these ethereal woods and bottle them into pocket-sized vessels of scents is amazing.

My current personal perfume goal is to learn to forage my own plants for the distillation of my own oils. Along the way I plan to learn everything that I can about perfume. And no matter how many books I read, there are some things that can only be learned and realized from interactions with a like-minded person.

This is where Possets comes into the story. I moved to Cincinnati this past July. The city itself was full of hot, passionate summer scents—simmering sidewalks, street vendors, swimming pools, hot grass. Something told me that this city, with its history and its beautiful architecture and its lively art scene, was bound to have its own perfumer. A quick internet search lead me to Possets, and a brief email exchange had me sitting across the table from Jennie in a tea shop in the east side of Cincinnati.

Meeting strangers isn’t usually the most effortless task for me. As with many people, I get nervous and wonder about what to say and worry about how I’m being perceived. But my coffee date with Jennie wasn’t like this at all. She was immediately warm, kind, interested, and excited to tell me about her recently inherited business. We talked for a few hours, about perfume and about other things. She told me all about Fabienne and the wonderful influence she had and continues to have on people all over the world, both with her scents and her amicable personality. Before I left, Jennie handed me a few Possets samples and we made plans for me to meet her husband Tom and to see the space where the perfume magic happens.

A few weeks and one equally warm lunch date with Tom and Jennie later, I found myself standing in an understated room filled with good vibes and good smells. Tom was opening the cabinets that held the library of scents and oils that Fabienne had been building for so many years. He pulled bottle after bottle—Oud, Honeysuckle, Sandalwood, Amber, Black Pepper, Neroli—and we sniffed and discussed our impressions. We were like giddy kids discovering candy for the first time.

In fact, I imagine that learning about all of the oils and their stories feels similar to if I were to have eaten nothing but protein shakes all my life and were discovering vegetables, fruits, and grains for the first time. There are so many possibilities, and so many different stories and symphonies of scent that can be concocted, and still so many amazing Possets scents already there to sniff and explore. It’s like waking up to a whole new dimension. It’s obvious that Jennie and Tom are equally inspired by and dedicated to this world of scent. I’ve seen the way they discuss their line of perfumes—Possets is in excellent, caring hands.

As for me, I couldn’t be happier to have found a couple of people who are equally interested in discussing how cool it is that, for instance, the sticky essence of labdanum was originally collected from the beards of goats who had been grazing on the cistus shrubs. (Neat, huh?) I’m so excited to be here learning and gushing with every reader who shares the same perfume obsession as we do. For now, I’m off to smell more of these Possets samples that Tom passed along…

The Elements of Scent-Resinous/Oriental

Vying for #1 status of best loved categories of perfume is resinous. These are most popular when the weather turns cold and they feel right then due to their heavy long lasting aroma.

Out of all the kinds of perfumes that “indy” perfumers do, I think that the resinous category is the most successful. I really cannot think of a big commercial perfume house which produces a more sensuous and beautiful blend than the small independent makers. Part of that success is fueled by the fact that indies will use expensive and premium ingredients whereas big commercial houses see the market as too small to go all out on great ingredients so they try to finesse the richness of scents with cheaper and more man-made things. Indy houses will also go for unusual ingredients, which is rare among large houses; so you might see turmeric or saffron added to a blend and actually be able to smell it down in there!

I also notice that the perfume itself is often thicker, darker, and stickier than anything the big houses come out with. Why? Those are the real ingredients, and not the cheap carrier alcohol. Actually, I never use alcohol as a carrier as it’s too strong and self assertive, and it burns away the top notes too quickly for my taste. I prefer the lingering idea of oil as a base on which to build my product, it makes the elements of a perfume last longer and it has no scent of its own to interfere with the blend I am making.

Please note that Possets Perfume is Vegan and Never Ever Tested On Animals. We are also proud to say that we are transitioning over from any plastic containers to all glass, better for everyone and everything from every point of view. To find out more of the good stuff we are doing, please visit our FAQS on http://www.possets.com.

Discover Possets and take a look at our listing for 100% Natural scents, we are very good at them. Take a tour of each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer. Http:www.possets.com