The Long Story

My first recollection of perfume was at my grandmother’s house in a small town near the south side of Chicago. I loved to lock myself in her bathroom and admire the vast array of perfumes displayed on a beautiful, round mirrored tray with gold filigree. I would carefully pick up each bottle, smelling the gorgeous aroma of each perfume, never daring to actually put it on. But I could not resist the dusting powder. Carefully lifting the glass lid, I'd take out the soft, delicate powder puff and trace the perfumed powder across my little arms.  I felt so feminine, so elegant.

When I wasn’t sneaking into my grandmother’s perfumes, I was running up and down the alleys behind her house cutting lilacs from the copious lilac bushes growing through the neighbors’ chain link fences. The opulent beauty of those tiny blossoms astounded me. I saved some flowers to place in tiny vases, but I wanted mostly to wear the lilac. I crushed them into a perfume potion and insisted everyone wear it. I beamed with pure joy when my grandmother said it was her favorite of all her perfumes.

As I entered adulthood, I found that the perfumes of the 1980's were incredibly confusing and frustrating to me.  I'd always loved scent so much, but there was such a disconnect between the aromatic treasures I recalled from my childhood on my grandmother's mirrored tray and the commercial fragrances being sold in stores.

In 1989, I moved to Chicago and discovered a little apothecary that carried natural essences. I devotedly visited every week to admire the hundreds of wonderful and exotic natural materials behind the counter. I was in complete awe, however, I was not allowed to touch the material and blend it myself. Instead, I had to tell the person behind the counter how much of what essence to add and create my combinations in this way. It just about killed me not to touch and work with the essences myself!

In 1996, I started making soaps.  I was beyond thrilled when I found another apothecary shop that offered perfume classes in the back of their store. Finally, I was able to touch the materials and experiment on my own! I started buying my own essences to take home.  Before I knew it, I had created a small perfume organ. As my knowledge and craft grew, I made perfumes for loved ones, always trying to match the personality of my scents with their intended recipient.

In 2001, I moved to California with my husband and children.  Unable to find a place to study perfume, I took a course in Aromatherapy and received a certificate with honors.  Though I love the application of aromatherapy and deeply appreciate the therapeutic value of these amazing oils, I missed the concretes, absolutes and sticky resins that are used in perfumery. I missed blending for the pure art, beauty and luxury of scent.

The defining moment on my journey was around 2005 when I bought the book Essence and Alchemy by Mandy Aftel. I somehow ended up in her Berkeley studio a few years later and have since returned many times.  Even through the busy years spent raising four amazing kids perfuming and Mandy’s guidance has remained an absolute constant in my life.  As my children grow older, I am able to spend more time on my lifelong passion and bring my long-time vision of Jade Daisy into reality.