Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Perfume making and selling is NOT an "if you build it, they will come" type endeavor. You have to peddle your wares, sell yourself, and sometimes be an annoying pest. I have a huge problem with this. I think it's a life theory I absorbed through osmosis living with my step-father from age five to 18. He's a brilliant man who won a full ride scholarship to a Texas university in the field of science, who instead decided to strike out and find his fortune in the wild, unruly West of a mid-1960's California. And that was perhaps the one and only bold move he ever made. Well, that and marrying my nutty mum. Since his arrival in CA, he'd held one mediocre maintenance type job after another, never asking for a raise. He felt that his good work would be rewarded by a grateful employer. Right. His good work was usually rewarded with higher work loads and trust in performing jobs for which he had no formal training -- carpentry, electrical, flooring, complex plumbing -- quite a lot for a simple fix-it man. But he did it, and he did it well, and he took any job that came his way, never setting his sights terribly high so as not to disappoint his boss, or perhaps himself. He even held a position as a grave digger until something better came along. Sadly, bitterness ruled the day, day in and day out, day after day, month after month, year after year, it was lamenting anger and empty threats to quit. All this was done at home. For us. His employers never knew how much he hated what they were doing to him. And still he never asked for a raise, never complained to his bosses, never stood up and said, "Hey, I'm doing the work of four employees, why not pay me what that's worth? Why not pay me a portion of what you'd have paid a plumber or an electrician or a carpet layer or a cabinet builder?" He simply held on to the notion that he would be rewarded for his passivity and ability to do a professional job. Asking was equal to begging. So, that's my little problem now. I know it isn't right, and I know I'm much, much better than I've been given credit for. But so few people have tried what I've created and that's partly my fault. And here are some excuses I use: In a world where one can throw a stick and strike at least one person calling themselves a perfumer, how can one compete? Where not only are there literally hundreds of modern synthetic perfumes on the market, there are also literally hundreds of Natural Botanical Perfumes on the market. Where the squeaky wheel gets greased, or forces someone into hiding, how is my less squeaky wheel to be heard? And how can I gently persuade someone to review my perfumes without making the abysmal mistake of stepping over the line and becoming an annoyance? Believe me, I make good perfume. Great perfume, in fact, but you wouldn't know that judging by a Google search. This is where all that talk of courage is tied into the theme of perfumery. I need it. Loads of it.

Sources: My Life


  1. I have the same problem. My whole family is 'military/law enforcement oriented, and the whole thing is always about 'honor' and 'duty' and being a good person, which means not 'greedy' or 'materialistic.'

    But when I started applying for jobs after law school and people wanted to negotiate salary, I found I had no idea how to value myself. At this point, I did what any modern person does: called my friends for advice and, failing that, I bewilderingly turned to google for help.

    What I discovered is that this is a problem for a lot of women and probably part of the reason there's still a wage gap. Not only are there cultural barriers (say like your upbringing and mine) that might deter us from asking, but there is subtle gendered social coding that teaches us that to work for less, expect less, have the work we do valued less. One site I read said, bluntly: if you can't get yourself to ask for better wages for yourself, do it for all the women out there who deserve more and are afraid to ask.

    Now when I step up to the plate, I try to set aside my anxiety about seeming greedy and recognize that, like all the women in my family, have done a lot of unpaid work and now that someone is paying me to use my ridiculously expensive and rarefied education as a lawyer, it's only fair that I ask to compensated accordingly.

    Same goes for you. I could never do what you do, and I am awed by it. Put yourself out there. Advertise. Ask. My bet is, your work is a lovely and undiscovered gem in the world of art perfumery.

    I look forward to hearing about your success!

  2. Well, thank you for all that, and I do agree with your assessment of the problem.

    As for becoming more of a squeaky wheel, yeah, I think I can do that. And I will :)

    Thank you for your insightful comment! I love it.

  3. I have a really hard time shilling myself and my skills and products and all that hoohah. It doesn't ring true for me to be doing that.

    And this kind of reinforces the point that this is what promoters are for, why people pay for PR, and press packets, and the whole enchilada. And at the same time it reminds me that when I'm back in the game I won't be able to afford anyone but little ol' me to do all that, so why the heck am I whinging about PR. Just suck it up and do it. Pragmatism wins out.

    I think this is stuff that comes with practice for many of us. But I am still not comfortable with it. Eh. My shyness outweighs my smartassitude half the time.

  4. If heaven would only crack open and send me a PR person! I'd be in like Flynn, baby!

    But seeing as that ain't gonna happen, yeah, suck it up and peddle, peddle, peddle.

    Being shy is a curse. I know how hard it is to try to step out of that comfort zone and do something your normal shy self would never do. It's like free falling off a cliff . . .

    We just have to keep at it.



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