Year End Review (2018)

The year is coming to a close, and I'm afraid to say I haven't got much to show for it that will knock anyone's socks off. It's really hard to top off the big changes of the last three years: Trans-continental move, building the studio (actually, two of them: Perfume and Pilates), renovating our house, and all the major life changes that go with all of that for me and my daughter, and the business. This year was all about deepening my roots (both figuratively speaking and literally) and nurturing what I've been building and planting here. In the coming year I would really like to plant more in my garden. Trees especially (did you know that if every person on the planet would plant 4 trees this year we'd be able to reverse the damage we've been creating in the last 50 years?).

To be honest, we're still dealing with the aftermath: homesickness, adjustments and getting acclimated to the new environment, so I'm not exactly in the thrill-seeking stage. Everything around us still feels new and strange, even if more comfortable than before. We're still getting used to the new cycles of seasons, different rhythms and customs associated with them and the different holidays here etc. Even though I spent all my childhood here, things are different, very different, from an adult point of view. Additionally, my daughter transitioned to adulthood again (because in Israel people with special needs are considered minors and get full services and free education until they turn 21, not 19 like in Canada). I thought it will be a breeze after all the major changes she went through, but turns out you don't get better with practice in this area of life. The last six months were a roller-coaster getting used to all of that plus a visit in Canada in the middle, which was supposed to make things better but was very emotionally trying for Miss T. She still talks daily about packing all her belongings, and shipping them in a container on a cargo ship and moving to Vancouver (she has the whole route planned and it it's exactly the reverse of the one we made when moving here). Please mom, just reverse what you did two years ago! I'm done with this. She would still tell you she lives in Vancouver, and remembers her exact address and phone number from there. Truly heartbreaking. Thank goodness things are looking up for her now. After graduating from those two bonus high-school years, she's finally settled and doing very well in a protected employment centre just 20 minutes drive from home, and gets paid for doing what she's good at - arts and crafts. It's not a very long day, so I have to find a way to get all of my stuff done in 7hrs workday. Which go by really fast living in a rural area - there are lots of logistics that are way more complicated than in the city, besides chopping wood for heating the house in the winter and tending to the garden and the pets - it also means driving to do errands (for example, the business related ones - going to the post office to send shipments - not a trip down the elevator and across the street like I had in the West End). So in a way I'm still adjusting as well.

So what did happen this year, you wonder? I happily launched two new fragrances, Inbar and <3 a="" heart="" lack=""> and revamped Coralle - none of these have received even as much as a single review and I didn't even bother to nominate them to any fragrance awards. I've been too busy with life. I am strangely content with this, even though it's not good for business. I've been just way too busy with life and deeply absorbed in my own creative process. I don't want to live under a rock but I don't want to chase fame either. Those days are far behind me. It was a year of a lot of incense making and experimenting, as well as sharing my incense love with the local audience here in the Galilee in the form of Koh-Doh inspired incense parties/ceremonies that I hold every other month or so. A few workshop with children, which were also a lot of fun (how about educating the next generation of noses?). And lots of foraging and experimenting with the cornucopia and pharmacopeia of the local flora. I'm blessed to be living near an outdoors medicine cabinet! It is literally just a few steps away from my doorstep, in every direction. 3>
I've taught three perfume courses this year: Citrus & ColognesChypre and Floral Bouquets - which was the first time this course was taught at all!
I'm happy and grateful that people are interested and willing to travel all the way to Clil to study with me, and will be offering no less than four perfumery courses this coming year:
Fougère (March 24-28, 2019)
Florientals (March 31 - April 4, 2019)
Orientals (November 10-14, 2019)
Leather/Tobacco (November 17-21, 2019)

I'm just on the very last edits of my 3rd correspondence course - Chypre,  so I guess I do have something to show for 2018 after all... I'd also like to focus more on my writing projects and spend less on social media. I think if I've put the energy I spent on writing status updates on completing my new book - or at least blogging instead - I would have felt a lot more accomplished and fulfilled then this endless spurts of info that small indie perfumers such as myself are obliged to maintain in order to stay visible.

Starting January, I will begin a new monthly series of for incense making courses, with a lovely group of local witches. I'm excited to get to know these ladies up close and share what little I know about the world of incense. Honestly, I'm most excited simply about the opportunity to get deeper into incense and try to master it or at least study it more methodically.

Last but not least: I'm also just about to hand in my contribution to an art installation in Toronto that will open in January 12th. It's a collaboration with the visual artist, and I am very excited to be part of this and to have my creation treated as art and not just a commodity. Stay tuned!

Outlook on 2015 + Giveaway

There's a lot on my mind these days, as I plan my moves for the next few months (and year). This is in lieu of a New Year's Resolution. I think it's much better to have goals rather than "resolutions". As far as wanting to change oneself - true change happens over time, in the things you do every day. Not what you decide you want to be on the first day of the year. Besides, I am Jewish, so I've already made my resolutions four months ago ;-)

While 2014 was dedicated to completing my book, I still have some lose ends to tie with this project, namely bringing it to you in an electronic format that you can easily purchase through iTunes, and read on multiple devices, including your smartphones! I'm proofreading it already, so this shouldn't take too much longer. But will be a great complement for the book I've written as it is an interactive format and it will make a lot of the studying easier (in some ways - for those who love digital formats, that is).

This year I'm planning to continue my educational work - with a vengeance!
There are several courses already planned out for this spring, and even as far ahead as fall 2015.
Citrus & Colognes Week (May 4-8)
Leather & Tobacco Week (May 11-15)
Fougere (Fall 2015 - dates TBA)

For additional workshops, classes and salons, do check my calendar for more workshops, as it will be updated this week.

The highlights of which I will "warn" you now are an incense workshop in February (there are still 2 spaces left) and in March I will be making history (well, personal history, at least) by offering a perfume workshop in my home village Clil in Israel, and most excitingly - a fragrant hike that I will be co-guiding with my brother Yotam, a certified tour-guide extraordinaire and a most captivating storyteller. I'm not only excited to be teaching classes and workshops in Israel for the first time, but most honoured and touched by my brother's invitation to work on such a fun project together!

Last but not least on the educational arena: Starting this month, every last Thursday of the month, I will be holding a Scent Salon at my studio. Each salon will be dedicated to a different raw material or olfactory tradition, for example exploring vetivers from around the world, or learning about the Japanese koh-doh ceremony and experiencing different kinds of oud. Spaces for these salons are limited to 10 people, and although you don't have to sign up to all monthly sessions - it is highly recommended! It is a great opportunity to not only connect to ancient traditions that have graced civilization for hundreds if not thousands of years - but also form new connections to fellow humans and perfume lovers in our community. The "pilot" of this series will take place Thursday, January 29th, from 4-6pm, at my apothecary in downtown Vancouver.

As far as the business side of things go, I will be truly focusing only on my online store. No more markets or events for me (at least for now), and I'm pretty much done with retail. At the end of the month I will no longer be at Giving Gifts & Co, and my retail presence will boil down to only one shop - Dream in Gastown.  Of course you are still welcome to book private sniffing sessions at my studio, and my online store is open 24/7 and ships worldwide. This focus will enable me to do what I do best, which is have an online business with top-notch customer service that truly connects to my customers, worldwide. This will also enable me to have adequate time for being creative, adventurous and daring. At least as far as perfume making and product design goes.

Which brings us to the last but not least: the creative side of my life, which means more perfume and other goodness to incorporate into your daily self-care rituals. Here is what I'm hoping to achieve:
1. Rebrand and repackage my Zodiac perfume line.
2. Greatly improve the packaging for my body oils, hair oils and facial serum.
3. Create some new body and skin care products, namely a deodorant and a lip balm. And hopefully also a new soap or two. Wish-lists from you guys are most welcome, by the way.
4. Complete an experimental perfume-meets-art project that involves a collection of short stories.
5. Work with a professional editor (Shauna Rudd, I'm staring at you) on my publishing my next book project.
6. Put some serious effort in the manual of raw materials that I've been postponing and neglecting for more years than I can count. Now that my first book is completed and out of the way, I can put some real work into that (even though I know this is going to take many years). Rome was not built in one day. But what people did every day towards building it sure did make a big difference...
7. The usual, and probably what every blogger wishes for at the beginning of the year: Blog more!

It may be a little too ambitious, but I've always been a firm believer of setting the bar of expectations high, so that I don't ever get too arrogant and proud of what I did achieve. It makes for a constant feel of falling too short. But it does get the work done...

What are your hopes and dreams, plans or resolutions for 2015? Please do leave a comment! Which brings me to one more thing regarding SmellyBlog: I am returning giveaways to this blog. However, in a very different format. Once a month, I will have a lucky draw from among ANYONE who has commented that month, and the person who left the most comments has the best chance of winning a fragrant and/or delicious prize. I have a lot stashed in my "to give" box. So let's get started, now!
For the month of January, the winner will receive a coffret of 5 vintage minis from the 80's, including Bal A Versailles, Animale, Sunwater, Hollywood, 360 Perry Ellis and 273 Fred Hayman.

Hopes, Dreams, Resolutions...

Untitled by Tom Allison
Untitled, a photo by Tom Allison on Flickr.
The year 2013 left much to be desired. And so, I'm happily moving onwards (and, hopefully also upwards) in 2014, in what I can only pray would be a better year. Here are a few things that I wish for from this year (some of which are entirely up to me, but some are perhaps also dependent on other factors):

1. Finish my 3rd edition for the Foundation of Natural Perfumery - a course handbook which I have been planning to publish more widely for over 2 years now. I'm at the final stages of editing (the long winter vacation was very helpful in that regard), and the next steps would be to create a digital version of it, as well as a paperback book, locally printed, and much prettier than the spiral-bound manual I've got going so far.

2. Create more dialog here on SmellyBlog. I have to admit that I have no idea how to make this happen. I tried to do giveaways on a weekly basis for a while (which, combined with shipping costs, is frankly beyond the budget for this little blog). It's been generating more comments from the same people (who got to win multiple times - yay!), but it has not encouraged my readers to come out of their lurking cave. I've tried to blog on topics that I would think would encourage dialog, but they have reaped very few results (while in other blogs, quite effortlessly, just in response to "leave a comment on whatever you want to talk about today" gets over 100 comments within a day). Any thoughts on the subject?

3. Outreach and Education: For this year, besides offering 2 week long courses back-to-back in May (Citrus & Colognes Course May 19-23 and Oriental Perfumes Course May 26-30), I'll be also teaching olfactory awareness and botanical perfumery lectures at one of the botanical gardens; and offering perfume making workshops outside of the studio in a new co-op boutique I'll be part of (more on that once the details are ironed and official!).

4. Become a little more visible than I was last year. As much as I wish it was otherwise, and hate to admit it - for a perfume company, and even more so a small one like mine - unless you come up with a new perfume every year (or every quarter), no one is really going to pay any attention to you. There have seemed to be only marginal interest in the many other new things I churned up (which were, by the way, a lot more work as well to develop) - I launched an entire tea collection of 4 beautifully packaged teas; created 2 beard oils (Blackbeard Oil and Orcas beard oil; 3 new soap bars - ArbitRary, Bon Zai and Film Noir; and my first hair oil - Palas Atena; a 6th Anointing Body Oil - Zohar; and relaunched Elixir facial serum, which has the best ingredients you could ever find and feed your pretty face with. Hardly anyone took notice of that at all, with the exception of some local fans and a handful of online-boutique customers. It seems like the market is either saturated (the local holiday shows certainly are), or was I just hiding under a rock? I suppose I will have to work ten times harder promoting myself this year, which is exhausting and daunting and truly takes away from my creativity in other areas. And, I might just have to release a new fragrant baby or two, which have been hidden in my vaults so to speak...

5. And on a more personal note: I would love to be the person who would say yes to climbing this trail. If not realistically, then at least metaphorically speaking. That must be the best cup of tea, ever. Context (and timing) is everything!

Slow Down

snails by JasonOzur
snails, a photo by JasonOzur on Flickr.
"Slow down and remember this - most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action."
- Tim Ferriss

It couldn't be more relevant than to now. We always seem to be in a rush to get somewhere, to get something done, to meet more people -- that the important things seem to sift away and fall to the bottom of the pile. Mindfulness is our only savior in this hectic rat-race towards what often tunrs out to be not all that worthy finishing line. 

Nature will always get her ways. If we don't stop to breath, it will give us a cold so that we appreciate our breath better. Allow me to make up for all my unmade New Year's resolution with this post (in case you were wondering - I was too occupied with adjusting to extreme time differences and temperature drops and completely lost my opportunity to even buy a 2013 agenda book).

With each year that goes by I realize how it all boils down to mindfulness and how important this is to our lives. Living to its fullest each moment as it passes through us; embracing life with all of its challenges - even savouring the painful experiences. We'll always be able to look back fondly to these challenging times and appreciate the lessons they taught us and are still relevant in the present.

At this point, you're probably concerned with where this SmellyBlog is going and how is this related to perfume - or smell - in any way. Well, last time I checked it was an paramount to smelling. And if that does not satisfy you, here's my New Year's resolution for 2013:

1.  Be mindful of my breathing, thinking, and the intent I put in what I do.
2.  Remain authentic to my inner voice - which is inevitably connected to my creative side which churns up scents as my means of self-expression and story telling.
3. Release absolutely no new scent whatsoever in 2013.

4. Perfect as much as I possibly can the packaging, branding and accessibility of my existing line.

In relation to 4, I'd like to add that I have thought long and hard about my collection over the past year, and have divided it down to 4 collections, and 49 scents in total - that should keep both me and my customers interested and busy for a while. Now it's just the question of printing and setting this into action; plus the scariest part of the task: re-branding the website. Any takers for the task?

There is going to be plenty of excitement for 2013: Broken Hearts Tea Party for Valentine's on February 10th; Artisan Fragrance Salon March 24th, my appearance in Blackbird Apothecary as part of the Northwest Indie Perfumers Circuit on May 11th, and of course - my Floriental Week May 13-17. Hope you'll join me for one or more of these events!
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