Today is Possets’ ninth birthday! Nine years ago today I held my heart in my mouth and pushed the button and up went the site. It was a simple one with a brownish background and a line of amber colored dropper bottles lined up. I had put up the word ‘Possets’ in Palatino Linotype and was quite proud of the design until a friend of mine who was a graphic designer pronounced it “too medicinal”. A fight ensued but I was totally overwhelmed by other graphic designer friends. I could feel the disappointment and the wasted hard work rankling in my soul as my cohorts tore apart the site design. I hastily put together a new one with a reclining Venus and threw it up on the screen. She took up a huge amount of real estate and was clearly “aht history”. The response? “I’d buy a bottle of perfume from HER!” And the concept was set…and it has been a winner ever since.
The first perfume I made was in my art studio. I rented space in Cincinnati in an “artists’ warehouse”. Art is a hard and often depressing profession. You are making a product which has been so far eclipsed by the cheaper and more amusing electronic toyland that I am tempted to say that painting is dead dead dead (obsolete for sure). Painting seemed pointless, every Final Friday my studio was just a Free Wine And Cheese Station For Bored Yuppies And Neurotics. I started to make perfume and failed. My blends were just as confusing and dull as my landscapes. I tried and failed, tried and failed, tried and…made Silver Violets! I loved Silver Violets! It was exactly what I wanted. I wore it everywhere and people never said a word about it, but their eyes would light up and when I waved my hands they would be just a bit closer to that private happy space, you could tell. I knew I was on to something remarkable and that something was what I was indeed meant to do.
The first bottle I sold to a person was to a very skeptical, sniffy, precious lady who had a hugely high opinion of herself and was not sure she wanted to turn loose a small amount of money to meeee. After all, I wasn’t any better than she was. After all I was supposed to be an artist and dance attendance on her, the self styled “patron”. I opened the bottle and bade her take a sniff. She did and her delight was not pinched off before it lit her face. In one instant a self-obsessed and unattractive dame turned into a happy little girl! She turned to me and said, “I’ll take it!” She handed me the money and was still smelling the bottle as she left the studio. I felt like I had improved the world if just for a second and this was what I could devote my life to doing.
That scene played out several times over the course of the evening. I actually left the building that night with a few dollars in my pocket instead of the empty feeling that painting (at least my painting) was passe.
I went home and finally told my husband what I had been up to. He was incredulous! “You aren’t going to be doing that are you? After all, you just got through an entire Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art, you not going to abandon that!” To him at the time, my being a perfumer was a crazy exotic scheme which would come to no good. Art was at least predictable.
Nine years later he is very appreciative of my profession. “My wife is a perfumer. She makes it and sends it all over the world!” I think he got a kick out of how I started a business from scratch and have kept it thriving for almost a decade.
Happy birthday, Possets! And many more to come.
This is the first in a series of essays about the origins of Possets Perfume. It is written to go with the Retour event which is going on now at Possets where Fabienne, the perfumer, re releases all of the perfumes she has ever made for two weeks. All of the scent which was in past seasonal collections can be re bought and stocked up now. It is being sold in 6, 10, 15, and 30 ml bottles so you can keep yourself in your favorite Posset forever. Go there and see for yourself!