Collectables for the Lavish Perfume Fancier... with a Heart

Laurie Stern is the artisanal perfumer behind Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery, a cozy, magical world of wonders and working perfumery overlooking San Francisco Bay. Laurie handcrafts each of her scents using a unique process that combines practices from ancient times and the Victorian era with her own innovative techniques. Many of her scented treasures are limited editions—perfect for collectors. Liquid perfumes are poured into French crystal bottles, crafted by Verreries Brosse, a Normandy company that has been making bottles for royalty since the 1850s. Solid perfumes are placed in exquisite, jewel-topped treasure boxes that tuck neatly into a purse or pocket.

Laurie draws on her background as a lingerie designer and wedding florist to design her packaging. She wraps each perfume one by one and only the most fanciful and elaborate fabrics and materials will do. And, all of Laurie’s perfumes come with their own distinctive scent card—a tradition that hails from the Victorian era when even the advertisements were little works of art. 

Natural materials, mastery and magic

There is a story behind every perfume Laurie creates. She conjures scent combinations from songs, memories and ideas, and uses only nature’s finest plant treasures—flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves and aromatic woods—to create her perfume, cologne and eau de parfum collections.

Many of the ingredients she uses are rare and have their own terroir. A French word used in winemaking to describe the influences that land has on the taste of grapes, in natural perfumery terroir implies that natural elements have a “somewhereness” that you can detect in their scent. Those land conditions influence a scent as it exists today and will likely never occur again, adding to the collectability of Velvet & Sweet Pea’s perfumes.

While she sources many of the essential oils, absolutes, ottos, attars, tinctures and infusions she uses from around the world, some of her ingredients come from her own Perfumer’s Garden, a scent-maker’s paradise she designed and brought to life with her husband Gary, a landscape architect. Laurie blends each aromatic bouquet into a base of organic alcohol or organic jojoba. Outside her perfumery overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, bees buzz in their hives and produce the beeswax, propolis and honey Laurie uses in her formulations.

Ancient process meets modern sensibilities

Laurie’s art revives the legacy of the golden era of perfume while embracing a modern sensitivity to health and animal welfare. She named her perfumery after two of her beloved cats, whose images are immortalized in her packaging. While learning the art of perfumery, Laurie discovered the appalling and cruel conditions under which animal musks are harvested from animals, and she decided she would never use animal musks. Laurie is committed to the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would end animal testing of cosmetics in the United States. Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery is certified by Leaping Bunny, a coalition of animal protection groups, who ensures none of her ingredients, or her supplier’s ingredients, are tested on animals. And, Laurie’s perfumes never contain phthalates or synthetics of any kind. Everything Laurie does—from using natural materials that do not harm animals, to creating beautiful packaging from earth-friendly products—is in harmony with sustainable living. She is a member of the International Perfume Foundation (IPF) and embraces the organization’s desire to build a community of professionals who value the transparency and authenticity of the perfume supply channel. As the Director of Animal Conservation for the IPF, she seeks to educate perfume and animal lovers about animal musks in perfume and how they can make informed decisions when they buy products they will put on their bodies.