Find Your Own Scent!

A review by By Recommendation Only's Johanna Kaestner A story about the magic of hydrosols, and how a woman followed her dream. You read correctly, it is not a typo; the "purr" in Purrfumery comes from Laurie Stern’s beloved cats, Velvet and Sweet Pea. They snuggle and purr on the white damask love seat in her small, comfortable studio. Here she meets her clients, creates her scents, or studies in her most precious possession, Eugene Rimmel’s 1865 Book of Perfumes. The antique armoire with the eyelet lace-covered shelves houses her treasures. They consist of organic blends of perfumes and are packaged in jewel boxes and French crystal bottles. All the items are displayed in clear cellophane bags, ready to be sold and delivered. Daylight filters through the white lace curtains, giving you even more of the impression of being a world apart. Only one window is uncovered. Glass shelves are fit into the frame; they carry Laurie's antique perfume bottle collection. About 25 years ago Laurie started to buy these bottles at flea markets, and she would imagine the scents they contained and the ladies enveloped in those scents. At that time she had no clue where life eventually would lead her. "Everything about flowers always astounded me; the glory of springtime, the rich autumn colors, rose and lavender jam, aromatherapy," Laurie stated. To satisfy her love for flowers she became a flower designer. Her beautiful, lush, fragrant bouquets and decorations were in high demand. Then, there was that trip to France; the visit to the famous perfumery, Fragonard in Grasse, which inspired her to immerse herself deeper into the mysterious, closed world of fragrances. Looking back it seemed a natural progression from creating bouquets that attract the eye, to creating natural perfumes that excite the sense of smell. She took one weekend class and then decided to study on her own. Her deep connection to nature helped her to go on a discovery tour through centuries of ancient knowledge. She learned about the main plant energies, which are either calming, invigorating, or sensuous and about hydrosols which contain micro drops of essential oils that are healing to the soul. To find out how important they are for our well-being, Laurie tested her two nephews, and had them pick their favorite scents. The one with allergies preferred the respiratory oils, a combination of blue spruce and frankincense, helping him to breath easier; the one with hypertension picked the oils with calming effects. At the time of our meeting Laurie had just returned from a class in Arizona; the topic: Plant Healing. It highlighted the esoteric branch of flower therapy showing connections between herbalism, homeopathy, and aromatherapy. "Scent goes to the brain and regulates the hormones. A good perfume maker must be a good alchemist," Laurie told me. All oils have a different volatility, a different rate of evaporation. A great perfume will unfold like a flower on your skin. Each scent has top notes, heart notes, and soul notes. The first 15 minutes you smell the top note, the citrus and herbal flavors. The heart notes unfold next; they are the rich fragrant flowers like jasmine, roses, and carnations. Last are the soul notes, ancient woods, tree sap, sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh. Aphrodisiac oils are mood enhancing and make you feel delicious. "I feel blessed to work with the earth’s most precious treasures," she comments. Laurie orders her mostly organic oils and absolutes from all over the world. This gave her the idea to create the lecture Purrfumery Adventure. She leads her listeners to discover that lotus flowers are collected in a tiny pond of rural India, the best vanilla is grown in Madagascar and Tahiti, and the high altitude of Kashmir puts the most energy into the lavender flowers. Laurie invited me to such a trip, which I will share with you later in the year.