Meet Laurie Stern, artisanal perfumer…


One of the West Coast’s leading natural perfumers, Laurie Stern meticulously crafts scented treasures from natural, organic and botanical essences without synthetics. A former wedding florist, Laurie left the business in 2000 and immersed herself in perfumery, creating a very different kind of bouquet from exquisite materials found around globe and blooming in her own Perfumer’s Garden in the hills of El Cerrito. Today, her perfume organ features more than 1,000 bottles of natural essences and oils, some dating back to the 1890s.

Laurie handcrafts her own flower essences and tinctured alcohols, drawing out each plant’s natural signature and adding luxurious layers to her alchemical mixtures. All the while, bees buzz outside her Purrfumery window, working in their hive and making the beeswax she blends into her solid perfumes. Laurie’s perfume-making process and Velvet & Sweet Pea products have been widely covered in national and regional publications including Oprah, the Contra Costa Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Diablo Magazine. Known for her engaging and approachable speaking style, she has been invited to share her thoughts on nature and natural perfumery at Google, U.C. Berkeley, and classrooms across the Bay Area.

Laurie is known for her limited editions, eau de parfums and other creations, and is also sought by perfume lovers who want a custom scent for their own body and spirit. For Laurie, formulating a bespoke scent is an artistic adventure, an opportunity to create something beautiful and totally unique for one person’s celebration, life transition, or as a gift that will be treasured forever.

Laurie named her perfumery after two of her beloved cats, whose images are immortalized in her elaborate, fanciful packaging. Her background in lingerie and fashion design – and her love of Victoriana – is also reflected in everything she does. With her custom, whimsical touch, a package from Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery becomes much more than a bottle of perfume. Most important to Laurie is that all her products are always animal and earth friendly. Her business is certified by Leaping Bunny, a coalition of animal protection groups that ensures none of her ingredients or her supplier’s ingredients are tested on animals. Laurie and her husband Gary, a retired landscape architect who designed her Perfumer’s Garden, live with their three cats – Buttercup, Monkey, and Luma – and four rescued homing pigeons, Polka Dot, Pansy, Sprite and King Louie. (Polka Dot rescued himself by sauntering through Laurie and Gary’s cat door!) Laurie is available for appointments and visits to the Purrfumery. She is also available for interviews and speaking engagements. Her presentations are interactive and fun and give the audience an opportunity to inhale exquisite natural materials from around the world. Laurie’s speaking topics and workshops include:

  • Sweet Intoxication: The magical union between bees, flowers and natural perfumery (Delivered at Google headquarters – included a demo of making a solid perfume with Google beeswax)
  • Natural Perfumes from Antiquity to Today: Blending native Mediterranean plants (Delivered at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden)
  • Get to know your perfume: Head, heart and soul notes

To learn more, contact her at 510-528-8040 or at