Perfume creation – my creative process

This week, I’m lucky enough to be running two natural perfumery workshops with folks who just love the idea of scent creation.

blending scent bar on white

The question I get asked most often, by everyone, is “Where do you get your ideas?”

This is the part of perfumery that comes easiest to me. I have one of those minds that never stops. Ideas flow constantly, consciously and subconsciously, and my head is always spinning with concepts, ideas, theology, psychology, nutritional queries, diagnoses, reasoning, argument, philosophy…… (hence why I’m not a great sleeper!)

pile of books

image via

Unlike many perfumers, my perfume concepts generally don’t come from literature. I love the written word, and I devour books (mostly about ideas, theology, psychology, nutrition, diagnoses…see where I’m going with this?!)

Most of my perfume concepts come from single words, inspiring quotes, lyrics or human experience.

Some of those come from my reading, but mostly they come from listening. Song lyrics, people talking, things my kids say when they’re joyful, listening to a friend talk about her struggles, watching an old married couple hold hands as they walk, listening to the sound of peace in the air on a warm morning….these are the things that give me most inspiration and help me understand more about life and people.

image via

image via

I guess that’s the reason our perfumes have names like “Freedom”, “Hope” and “Seeker”. For me, scent creation is about speaking to human experience and emotion.

freedom setup 3 crop

Once I have a word in mind, I brainstorm about what that word smells like and looks like. What colour is it? What picture is in my mind? What elements are in that picture?A lake? A tree? A mountain?

painting 2

Then I look for a quote that encompasses the word and picture.

seeker sml

Once I have a word, a mental image, descriptions and a quote, I start working with my extracts, something like a painter would set about the paint the picture that it in his head. The translating of these words and pictures can be tricky – I can sometimes be inclined to go off on a tangent, and find I’m bringing myself back to my original picture time after time – but by sticking to that initial inspiration, I find the formula that finally translates the feeling into a bottle.

freedom front banner



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