Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Primitive Future.....and Sensory Perfection!

So....Christmas is upon us. Just a few more days to go.
I have been making soap and complimentary products for what seems like forever, but finally this week it has all come to a sudden stop.
The flu got me for one thing, so yanno, ya can't go making products for people to slather on their bodies when you're germ riddled.
I had to put a stop on production as I felt as though insanity was about to kick in with a fervant force, not to mention my dripping nose! Ugh!
Just this season alone I have made almost 200 bars of Snowdrift - that to me is a lot for one variety of soap. I'm usually cranking out around 60 soaps per variety in any one release, but this season has blown my mind.
I have my general catalogue of scents, which I try keep stocked up in higher numbers, but the beauty part of creating seasonal releases is that I get to play around a lot more and create more fanciful designs in my soap, but I never expect to have to re-stock seasonal batches of soap.
So, this leads me to thinking about how on earth I will cope in a years' time when I expect to have a few more customers.  I will have to cross that bridge as I come to it I guess but I reckon a little hired help may be in order.
If I cast one eye back over the past two months, I actually don't know how the hell I've managed to do it all. The only thing that keeps me going is my passion for creating beautiful soap and my passion to constantly learn about new ingredients I've not yet explored.
What I really want to do with this business is take a more natural approach to my line of products. I feel a real sense of respect for pure, natural, raw ingredients and I get over-excited when opening up say a bag of un-refined Shea or a bucket of raw Dead Sea Mud or a bag of that really strongly scented cocoa butter that I buy from Helen at Fresholi (the knife goes through that shizz like butter).  I cannot explain the excitement I feel when sniffing a new absolute or a resin that I may be able use in my soap or perfumery.  To smell pure Frankincense oil (for example) instead of a made up aroma-chemical version - well, there really is no comparison.  Nothing comes close to that true musky, dusty, church-like aroma.  You cannot create a synthetic version and get it nearly close. You just can't.  I've sniffed many fakes and each time I am reduced to 'Ack, NO!'

I recently used some pure, soft amber resin in my Winter Solstice Aromatic Oil and I can't even explain the sheer joy I felt inside when squishing it between my thumb and forefinger and knowing that it was going to lend itself to bring the scent to it's finale - I wanted a 'Cathedral at Christmas' note and by jove! I got it!
You try and find a synthetic amber fragrance that can do that.  Each one I've come across has a pungent, hit-the-back-of-the-throat sugary sweetness that makes me almost head for the toilet to hurl and have a talk with God!
With an all natural amber resin or oil, you get just that. You get just what you are looking for without that dragging, everlasting fragrance note that fills the air with uncertainty.
It may work for the noses of many, but it doesn't for mine.
Aaand I may add - never has one of my new fragrances sold out and had to be re-stocked so fast!

I feel more at ease when using really good natural ingredients as opposed to chemicals for cosmetic chemistry.
Sure, I have gotten to know my stuff when it comes to chemical ingredients and their capabilities and don't get me wrong some of them can work wonders in certain products, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty I get more excitable for boxes of pure unadulterated butters and fats than I do over coconut-derived, powdered sulphates. However skin-friendly they may be, they cannot and will not ever compare to an all natural bubble created by my handmade vegetable soap.

So...what this may entail is a streamlining of the products I will offer in the future.

At the moment I offer Handmade soap, Olfactory Bathing Grains, Whipped soap, Bubbling sugar scrubs, Butter scrubs, Body whips and Aromatic oils.
What I propose to do is eradicate the whipped soaps entirely along with the bubbling sugar scrubs.
Not a lot to lose really and if I look at sales figures, the soaps and body whips win hands down, and funnily enough since I started to offer the natural butter scrubs, sales of my scrubs have increased triple-fold.  No lie!
So I guess what my customers are looking for is a natural product, which works well and has a scent to die for.
This doesn't mean I will never use synthetics again but you can be sure I will be using a lot less of them.  I have to keep some synthetic fragrances in the line since some of the scents I offer, such as 'Rook & Raven' can't be duplicated with all natural ingredients. There is only one component in there, which is a synthetic but it's a damn good one!  Hmmm...now I got me thinkin'...watch this space!
I'm not on the fence when it comes to opinions about synthetic vs. natural fragrance. I know what I like and I know what I don't like.  Finding perfection in any one form is not easy.  I have strived to seek out the really good synthetic fragrances but when choosing essential oils, absolutes or resins I don't have to strive...I just have to purchase them and somehow figure out how they can work for me.
Most of the time, perfume creation is about creating a 'feeling' rather than trying to replicate an actual scent.
What I mean is, when I'm walking through a wooded copse in the Cotswolds and my nose cops the aroma of the great outdoors, the mud beneath my feet, bluebell sap or pine cones I find myself thinking of ways to capture that scent with essential oils. I don't want a simple 'pine' or 'grass' or 'earth' note.  I want to blend a series of notes together to capture the whole feeling.  Pine cones don't smell of pine, they smell musky, almost mushroom-like. Bluebell sap smells like rain-laden pavements in summer, not flowers or grass. Air smells like all manner of things and there are oils out there that can capture the very essence of air...and I'm on a mission to find them and I am extremely excited about it.
Here's an example of a scent I very much enjoyed creating....
To get the honey note in my 'Black Honey' scent I used Nutmeg.  Sure it has to be blended with other oils in order for the whole scent to smell of honey but in just a short time and me being surrounded by a host of essential oil bottles I managed to do it with Litsea, Mandarin and Ho Wood.  The ratio's of course are top secret...
The way I begin such a task is to sit on the floor with each oil in hand (and a bag of coffee beans to clear my nose) and a pad and pen.  I then take a good few minutes to sniff each oil and I write down EXACTLY what I personally think each oil smells like...then, when it comes to creating a blend, I already have a plethora of ideas from which to work.

I guess the whole point of this post was to explain where I am headed and to not cause too much disappointment for my loyal customers by my taking certain products away.
What I am doing is paving the way for something much, much better and something I feel will be gratefully received.

So, here's to you and yours.  Have a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and Happy New Year.