Pro Tip: How to make a fragrance for someone else

So, you want to make your boo/mother/sister/brother/BFF a Scentable. Great choice. We understand that you may feel the pressure to get it "just right" — a scent will have different emotional ties for different people, and you can already feel your nose giving up in exhaustion after smelling 100+ fragrances.  Hang in there, the payoff of creating someone a Scentable they truly love can be immense. 

To help you truly nail it, we put pen to paper to help you through the process of creating a fragrance for someone else. First and foremost:

1. HAVE NO FEAR

I could put this tenet at the bottom of this post as a heartwarming kicker, but it's going up top because it's a good guiding principle. Fragrances are a very intimate gift, and although that can make creating one for someone else seem intimidating, it's also what makes it fun and awesome. Don't get worked up by the well-circulated theory that everyone should have a signature scent that is the literal distillation of their soul. It's just perfume/candle/sugar scrub. People can and do have multiple, and they use them depending on their mood or the occasion.

If your loved one has an expansive mind, this is your chance to go crazy. Old Books & Bacon - why not? If these are two of their beloved things - go for it.  If you are making something for the more traditional sort, honor that with Fig, Orange Zest, & Verbena.

Don't worry so much about the ingredients and just go for something unexpected but thoughtfully challenging, if you can find it.

2. LOOK AT THEIR STYLE

How someone dresses can say a lot about their taste in fragrance. Does your friend wear a lot of leather and tough jewelry? She'll probably dig a darker fragrance, notes of roses, leather, clove and chai tea. If she's into ladylike looks, she might appreciate a more classic honeysuckle and champagne fragrance. Conventionally masculine scents with wood notes stand a good chance of appealing to someone who dips heavily into tomboyish tailoring.

3. FIGURE OUT THE PERSONALITY OF THE SCENT BLEND

Stay with me here. There's something very metaphorical about fragrances. Scent blends are designed to be way more than the sum of their ingredients. They're evocative — that's the whole reason people get so obsessed with them. As you go sniffing around, think about how each fragrance might be personified, and whether its vibe works with that of your loved one.

4. KNOW WHAT NOTES ARE POLARIZING

We have helped 1000's of people work through scent blends and we have learned that some fragrances are polarizing.  Popular as it is in home fragrances, lavender can be divisive for personal wear as well as personal fragrances with, particularly spicy notes. Our list of love it or hate it fragrances include:

  • Baby Powder
  • Bacon
  • Cannabis
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Cilantro
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Pine
  • Rose
  • Old Books
  • Leather

This isn't to say you should panic and blend the sweetest, most innocuous thing in the store (see guiding principle #1: Fearlessness). If you know your recipient is way into weird, heavy scents, run with it. If you're less confident about his/her taste, you might consider ruling out the most polarizing options. It's hard to go wrong with a floral or citrus.

5. ... BUT DO CONSIDER OFFBEAT FRAGRANCES

Let's talk about that friend with daring taste - Cannabis & Coffee is strong and crazy good. For citrus and floral fans, I am fan Orange Blossoms mixed with Whisper & Yuzu. If your recipient is into woody smells, then Hops, Cedar, Slate and Sandalwood fall a little farther from the beaten path. 

I am a huge fan of working in fragrances that evoke a memory of that person.  This speaks to the thoughtfulness of the gift and helps the recipient to recall those memories.  Powerful stuff.  

6. WORK BY PROCESS OF ELIMINATION

Creating the best fragrance for someone else can be like finding a needle in a haystack — and even then, you can never be sure it's the right needle. To make your life easier, start by eliminating fragrance categories you know won't work. Your companion hates heavy perfumes? Nix those and focus on fresher or floral scents. When you already know what won't work, you've cleared a path to create one that does.

7. THINK ABOUT THE FORMAT

Our Scentables come in so many forms: Home, Bath, & Body.  Fragranced home products pack a room-sized scented experience.  Some bath & body products are much more intimate.  Know your audience & what you hope for them to experience with your scent blend.  

8. PERSONALIZED LABEL - The final round!

Make your custom label awesome!  For a number of reasons, the most obvious being that handmade gifts are special. You want the recipient to feel special every time he or she looks at that bottle. Put some thought into this how you approach the label and what would be meaningful to the recipient.  How does the fragrance make you feel?  What do you want the recipient to feel when they receive it?  Those are good places to start with your label design.  Stumped?  Made with love, by xxxx always works.

9. DON'T WRITE OFF BESTSELLERS

They are that for a reason. If you're completely flummoxed, ask the mixologist what the store's most popular scents are. These change by seasonally for sure.  The consistent favorites are:

  • Absinthe
  • Awapuhi
  • Lavender
  • Hot Cocoa
  • Champagne
  • Honeysuckle
  • Verbena
  • Peony
  • Slate
  • Sea Foam
  • Watermelon
  • Orange Zest

These are especially great fragrances to start a blend with for teachers, hairdressers, coaches, that aunt you don't see much in Florida.  Basically, anyone, you want to give a thoughtful gift to but may not have deep shared memories to dig into.

5. ENJOY YOUR EXPERIENCE

Hey, give yourself a big break & have fun.  Gift buying can be nerve-wracking - especially if you have gone through the effort to actually create a thoughtful & unique gift.  They will LOVE whatever you create for them - as long as you do. So have fun handcrafting your gift.  While they are enjoying their very personal scent be sure to share your process with them.  In my experience, you get extra points for that :) 

Happy Everything & Merry to All

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