It was a bright sunny winter day, my co-worker Shane and I were having lunch together in a restaurant near our workplace. Shane was leaving the company, and I wanted to thank him for helping me edit the contents on my website, which would launch soon. At work, we never really got along well, but I admired how he always wins a debate by throwing a lot web analytics terminologies at people loudly like a popcorn machine.
I told him I had imported 1000 bottles and got 1000 packaging boxes made, all I needed to sell were 300 bottles, and I should be able to break even. “Good luck with that”, he said. While I appreciated his honesty, I wasn’t feeling pessimistic – last I heard America had a population of 300 million.
Winter passed, flowers bloomed and leaves were about to fall again. I stared blankly at the 980 bottles, boxes, sprayers, caps and desktop shrinkwrapping machine sitting in my basement like I was in a safe room all prepared for an apocalypse. Youtube reviewer Fragrance Bros. just told me he would not review my scents for my own good.
I remember gifting a coworker a bottle of Rhinoceros, for he was my dutiful fragrance guinea pig. He told me he was not masculine enough to wear it, despite he had a face full of beard. I knew I had to create a scent that was floral and feminine because most perfume wearers are female, so I messaged Paul Kiler (the perfumer of Rhinoceros and Panda) if he knew any perfumer who might lend a hand. He recommended Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. I told him I was too shy to ask, and he said he would give her a call. I asked him to be persuasive. Then I realized I had never smelled any of her creations.
After some emails exchange, Shelley agreed to design a scent named Hummingbird for me. The perfume would smell like spring, sweet nectars and a bouquet of flowers. I felt hopeful.
To kick-start the project, I sent her a “mood board”, a collage of images that I gathered. I am very visual person, and I think a successful “storyful” perfume could affect the wearers’ mood and get their imagination running.
The first set of mods arrived, and a few stood out. I asked for another round of revision and she sent me another set, each with subtle variations. Here came the difficult part – they all smelled fantastic and finished. There was one particular personal favourite that smelled like a piece of toast spread with condensed milk placed next to a bouquet of flowers in the morning. I almost cried smelling it. But that was not Hummingbird. I bit my lip and picked the one that I thought was the most representative of Hummingbird, and at the end, it was a big hit…