Olympic Orchid’s Kyphi (2011)

Olympic Orchid's Kyphi (2011) © Victor Wong
Olympic Orchid’s Kyphi (2011) © Victor Wong

Kyphi’s has saved me from a near mental breakdown.

Last week, Bat, a perfume from my own brand Zoologist Perfumes, won the Art & Olfaction Awards 2016 in the Independent category. Before the award ceremony, I had a full day to see the AIX Scent Fair at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. I finally had the opportunity to meet Ellen Covey, the perfumer of Bat, for the very first time in person.

After I returned home in Toronto, a friend of mine told me to go to a Facebook fragrance group to read about some of the discussions of my brand. To my dismay, the said thread was all very negative. I had read comments such as, “Zoologist perfumes make me want to vomit”, “I don’t want it even if they are free”, “Victor is nice, but such and such scents are just nasty”, etc.

It would be the biggest lie if I tell you such comments didn’t hurt. In fact, they hurt so much that I couldn’t sleep and eat for a whole day, and they lingered in my head and never went away. I didn’t say anything in their thread, because I understand how the Internet works. They didn’t know me, and they just spoke their mind. I myself also write “reviews”, and sometimes they are very negative. It’s a fair game.

However, the irony is that, Bat won an award. And there are positive reviews about my scents. I have had occasional good sales in some countries. I just have a hard time reacting and adjusting to these extreme influx of highly positive comments and highly negative comments.

Long before the collaboration with Ellen Covey, I had known about some of her works (Olympic Orchids) through readers’ reviews on Fragrantica. One particular scent, Kyphi, caught my attention because it had received quite a bit of negative reviews. I was very interested in smelling it, and I asked Ellen to bring some with her to the show.

I smelled it on the show floor and I instantly fell in love with it. She used ingredients typical of what the ancient Egyptians would use, namely frankincense, myrrh, beeswax, lemongrass, and spices.The scent smelled like a tomb, and images of me being hollowed out and mummified came to mind. Is it a perfume? Can I wear it to work? All these thoughts went through my head. It doesn’t matter, I concluded.

Yesterday, I smelled it again because I missed it, and suddenly everything unlocked – despite all the negative reviews, there are always some fans of your work. Just stay focused, and constantly improve. It will all work out.

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Author: Victor Wong

A perfume lover - niche, designer, modern, vintage, I love them all. I am also the owner of Zoologist Perfumes, a small Canadian perfume house. Please visit www.zoologistperfumes.com or www.facebook.com/zoologistperfumes for more info!

11 thoughts on “Olympic Orchid’s Kyphi (2011)”

  1. You’re not alone in losing sleep, Victor. These days Nick intercepts all our reviews and decides whether to let me go anywhere near them or not. If you’re in the business of creating scents that push boundaries, which some people love to pieces, then you’re going to have people who hate them too, but sooner than than just make scents which are “nice”. There’s a place for everyone.

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  2. Thank you, Sarah. The Internet makes negative comments extra brutal because people can pile on top of it with more hate so casually. But now I think I have a new attitude towards them and it’s crucial to my health being.

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  3. Dear Victor & Sarah, please never give up, never surrender! Of course it hurts when you open your hearts like this (and what big hearts they are!). But look at your achievements. OMG I love Ellen’s works to pieces, did so right away when I smelled her first collection in 2007 or 2008. She’s the master of intellectual indie ambers imho. So what if your favorites are acquired tastes, just keep on doing what makes your heart sing.
    I believe in you.
    Hugs! Irina

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  4. I’m sorry you had to endure such awful negativity Victor. Sadly it seems the online perfume community can be a little ‘disordered’ in certain places, not to mention the current aggressive culture of online behaviour in general. It’s a sad turn of events, but you are making wonderful fragrances. People don’t often get the more interesting stuff and feel threatened by it.

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  5. I think that negative feedbacks are way more useful, insightful and valuable than positive ones. It’s easy to dismiss the “negative side” of criticism as just another example of “the Internet’s nastiness”… probably the tones may be sometimes (too “nasty”, I mean), but the contents may contain useful information which may help people get better at what they do. It’s surely more comforting to avoid looking at that and focus just on positive feedbacks – and that’s how we ended up being flooded with over self-estimating “artists” and brands.

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    1. Yes, I agree, negative feedbacks are very useful, particularly candid ones. Behind the scenes, I like to send my perfumes to different perfumers and asked them for honest feedbacks, and they are very valuable. Consumer feedbacks and reviews are also important; it’s just that often I have to peel off all the hate and bitterness to find the real message.

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  6. There is a place for everyone. Even the high end brands like Chanel 5 have their share of haters too. Congratulations on the award. The Zoology range are superbly packaged and look incredible. Stay unruffled by critics because you have had the courage to do something yourself. That is a major achievement on its own. Criticism must stay like water off a ducks back. Many actors don’t read reviews either.

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