Frequently Asked Questions
What is an “artisanal botanical perfumer?” What is a “botanical natural perfume?” What is the difference between liquid and crème perfumes? What is the difference between perfume and cologne? Do you make any products for men? How are the perfumes packaged? Can you help me choose a gift for someone? Do the perfumes come packaged to be gifts? Why are some perfumes only offered in a “limited edition?” Why make perfumes with only natural rather than synthetic components? Are animal products used in making these perfumes? Where should I put perfume on my body? How long will the fragrance last? How should perfumes be stored to make them last longest? Why are perfumes so expensive? So here's what I really want to know - will perfume really make me a sex god or goddess like they say in all the ads?
An artisan is an artist who produces a usable object, like perfume or jewelry. Another definition is a craftsperson who has taken the creation of her craft to the level of an art form. Laurie has spent years immersed in the mysterious and fascinating world of perfume, teaching herself the magic and science of scent by studying books on perfume from antiquity to the present and experimenting endlessly with the alchemy of scents and materials from all over the world, from Madagascar to Tasmania. She has developed a deep relationship with the plant essences she works with that leads her to create perfumes that are meaningful on many levels – as a luxury beauty product, as an artistic alchemy of elements, and as a vehicle for healing energy for spirit and body.
Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery perfumes are made by hand in small, carefully crafted batches, using only natural ingredients. (Commercial perfumes are made using a dizzying list of chemicals and synthetic fragrances.) The distinctive use of the word “botanical” is key to one of the core principles of the Purrfumery. Many perfumers who call themselves “natural” perfumers use animal products (such as civet cat musk or beaver castoreum) in their perfumes. These products are harvested from animals under cruel, species-endangering conditions. So, even though animal musk is technically a naturally derived product, it is procured at a cost of terrible suffering. Velvet & Sweet Pea designate their perfumes as botanical to indicate that only nature’s plant treasures – flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves, and aromatic woods – are used in creating their delicious scents. All Velvet & Sweet Pea perfumes are created in a base of organic alcohol, or organic jojoba oil (because the base comprises 65-95% of a perfume, all our perfumes are almost entirely organic). Laurie also uses as many organic, wildcrafted, and sustainably grown ingredients as possible in all her creations.
Laurie creates her liquid perfumes in a base of biodynamic and organic grape and grain alcohols. Unlike regular alcohols, which contain traces of chemicals and pesticides used in their growing and distillation, the biodynamically grown and distilled alcohol used as a base in Velvet & Sweet Pea perfumes is produced in a way that is free from additives and preserves the essential spirit of the grape and grains. Liquid perfumes can be made in either an alcohol or an oil base. Laurie loves to create in an alcohol base because of the magical alchemy that takes place between the alcohol spirits and the essential oils that create the scent. On a molecular level, the alcohol breaks down the essential oils, causing particles to reassemble in new ways, resulting in truly unique blends of scent. Velvet & Sweet Pea’s crème perfumes are made with organic golden jojoba oil and the Purrfumery’s own beeswax. The advantage of a crème perfume is its portability. The crème perfume’s sterling jewel box is easy to slip into a pocket or purse and reapply throughout the day. Many people use a layering effect to get the advantage of both types of perfume – start with the delicious, complex alchemy of the liquid perfume in the morning and then reapply the same scent in solid form throughout the day.
Perfume is the strongest scented product, with a concentration of 15-35% essential oils in an alcohol base. Eau de parfum has 10-15% essential oil, Eau de Toilette has 5-10% essential oil, and Eau de Cologne is the lightest with 2-6% essential oil. Perfume is the headiest, longest-lasting, and most luxurious form of scent. Not as concentrated as a perfume, but more highly dosed than a traditional cologne, Velvet & Sweet Pea’s variation on cologne makes a wonderful gift for men or women who prefer a less floral, more earthy scent.
All Velvet & Sweet Pea’s perfumes are created out of a love for and delight in the many wonderful scents of nature. Read the descriptions of each fragrance – if the mood or flavors of a particular perfume captivate you, that may be the scent for you, regardless of gender. Our Terrain line, created originally for Gary, Laurie’s landscape architect husband, is very popular with men. Mojito, with its essence of dark rum, spearmint and Mexican lime, and earthy Fir-ever Young are also favorites for men.
All Velvet & Sweet Pea products come exquisitely packaged, adhering to our philosophy that everything must be whimsical, fun, beautiful, yummy, and the very best in the world. Liquid perfumes come in beautiful French crystal stopper-top bottles tucked into small, lush jewel-toned silk purses. Crème perfumes are in handmade sterling-silver jewel-topped boxes and enclosed in small silk pouches. Colognes come in French crystal apothecary bottles suitable as a gift for men or women. Kittylicious perfumes come in a velvet or satin pouch with velvet leaves or flowers. All other products come in beautiful glass bottles and arrive packaged in our signature purple Velvet & Sweet Pea gift box, or in fanciful cellophane bags with gold leaves.
Perfume is an incredible gift – the kind of luxury that everyone loves but many won’t buy for themselves. We consider all Velvet & Sweet Pea purchases to be gifts – most especially when they are wonderfully pampering gifts from you to yourself! If you need advice on choosing the perfect scent for yourself or someone you love, we’re delighted to help – just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer Gift Certificates that can be used for any Velvet & Sweet Pea product, Perfumery Adventure, or Custom Perfume experience. All Velvet & Sweet Pea products come exquisitely packaged and ready to delight from the moment they arrive. Our liquid perfumes are in fine, French crystal bottles and our solid crème perfumes are in sterling jewel boxes. Laurie tucks her Signature, Limited Edition and crème perfumes in gorgeous silk pouches and packages them in purple Purrfumery boxes. Kittylicious eau de parfums and Purrfumery colognes arrive in velvet pouches with velvet flowers or leaves. At your request, your gift can come packaged with a hand-calligraphed gift-card with the message of your choosing.
It takes eight million jasmine blossoms, each delicately picked by hand, to make one kilo of jasmine absolute (the most concentrated form of floral oils). Many of the absolutes used in making Limited Edition perfumes are extremely rare; for example, white ginger lily in Fleur de Caramel. You may never see these rare oils again, and if you do, they will be different. Like wines of a certain vintage, these perfumes, made only from the purest natural botanical ingredients, are unique to the time and place each blossom was harvested. Laurie knows she may never encounter another opportunity to work with these unique scents, so she can offer only a tiny batch of each of these fragrances.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, 95 percent of chemicals used in fragrances today are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum, including known toxins capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. These chemicals aren’t good for our health, and they aren’t good for the environment when we wash them off our bodies. Perfume has been crafted and worn for thousands of years, but only since the 20th century and the advent of synthetic fragrance has it become a potential trigger for asthma, migraines, and a host of other chemical sensitivities. For Laurie, perfume is about direct experience of the earth’s most luxurious treasures, and her creations reflect her profound sense of awe and wonder for the natural world. There are hundreds of molecular components that make up the lush, complex, particular scent of Jasmine Grandiflorum. Why isolate only the most active of those molecules and synthesize it as a cheap substitute when you can have the whole rich complement of elements, creating the opportunity for all of these pieces to blend with other complicated, wonderful scents and produce something wholly new?
Laurie is an avid lover of animals (especially kitties – Velvet & Sweet Pea’s is named after her two cat muses) and a volunteer for the Wildcare Center for wildlife rehabilitation. When she discovered the terribly cruel, species-endangering conditions under which animal musk are harvested, she made the decision that all Velvet & Sweet Pea products would be free of any musk or animal fixatives. Sadly, many commercial perfumes still contain animal musk, and even many “natural” perfumers use musk in their scents, because as a material harvested from animals, musk are considered a natural product. Because beeswax and honey is used in some Velvet & Sweet Pea perfumes, not all perfumes will be appropriate for strict vegans. Please email us at email@example.com if you need information on which perfumes are free of beeswax or honey.
A famous designer once said you should put perfume anywhere you’d like to be kissed. Apply dabs of scent to your pulse points – behind your ears, on your wrists, in the crook of your elbow, behind your knees, and between your breasts. The heat of your body will make the scent rise throughout the day.
The length of time a fragrance lingers on your skin varies from person to person. All Velvet & Sweet Pea perfumes are designed to unfold like a flower as you wear them. When you first apply them, you’ll smell the top notes, then as the day wears on the heart notes and base notes will bloom on your skin. Your perfume will smell completely unique on you, as its essence blends with your skin’s own natural scent. On average, your perfume should last about three to eight hours. The element that determines how long a scent stays on your skin is the combination of base notes and fixatives used. Some of the longest lasting fixatives are musk products – either animal-derived musk or synthetic musk. Animal-derived musk is harvested from the animals under terribly cruel, and in some cases species-endangering, conditions. Synthetic musk is a suspected animal carcinogen that has been linked to a host of health issues. Velvet & Sweet Pea perfumes never use animal products or synthetic ingredients of any kind. Instead, plant fixatives such as orris (Iris root), vanilla and vetiver are used as fixatives. You may need to reapply your perfume during the day, but we think it’s worth it for your health and the health of the planet.
Keeping your Velvet & Sweet Pea perfume out of direct sunlight is the best way to make it last. Once open, your perfume should probably be used within a year, as the alcohol will begin to evaporate after that time. However, Laurie has antique essences that are over a hundred years old and still smell incredible, so your perfume may surprise you with how well it ages.
The materials in Velvet & Sweet Pea’s perfumes are some of the most exquisite and precious in the world. The work that goes into the organic cultivation, distillation, and collection of natural materials is much more costly than that of making a synthetic version in a lab. (Real people are hand-picking millions of blossoms!) As many of our materials as possible are sustainably farmed – whole villages sometimes survive on the production of one particular essence. Beyond the beauty they instill in these perfumes, a beauty you can sense with your nose and your emotions, using only natural, pure ingredients is a choice made for your health and the health of the planet. Perfumer’s alcohols, for example, often contain toxic industrial chemicals called phthalates, so Laurie creates her perfumes instead in a base of biodynamic and organic grape and grain alcohols, which blend with essential oils in an amazing alchemy of scent, but cost much more than regular alcohols. All perfumes are expensive, even those created from standardized synthetic ingredients in a laboratory, but with a Velvet & Sweet Pea natural botanical perfume you know that you are getting a work of luxurious art to delight the body and mind.
There’s no “secret pheromone” to make people instantly fall in love with you. But Laurie believes very truly in the power of her perfumes as enhancements to feeling sensual. Natural perfumes, made from pure and complete plant essences, deeply affect the oldest, most primitive part of our brains. Many of the materials used in making Velvet & Sweet Pea perfumes have documented effects of relaxation, calming, and mood enhancement. And who is more irresistible than someone who feels beautiful, delicious-smelling, peaceful and relaxed? What Laurie believes from working with these amazing natural scents is that the ritual of moisturizing, bathing and perfuming, combined with the truly remarkable therapeutic effects of natural essential oils, acts as the most delightfully effective aphrodisiac she knows.