Thursday, October 26, 2017

Business

Here's what I've got done in the past couple of weeks ~

Taking photos of product, creating labels for product, creating product itself, marketing, advertising, doing the best I can to get this re-launch in order, yet doubt still lingers. I worry about price points, are they too high? Or are they too low considering the long-term goals of this newly revised 'edition' of The Scented Djinn? I still have very little in the way of goods to sell as I've been making very, very small batches, in numbers that I can manage and still call 'fresh'. I've learned a few things over the years, like don't make too much of a single product because
you don't know how quickly it will sell, but do have the goods to recreate that product if it turns out to be a winner. I can't tell you how many times I've had to give stuff away or throw it away because it was past its expiry date or very close. Working with naturals is a tricky business. You're either in or you're not. You can't just dump stuff into a jar, slap a label on it and call it done. There's work involved. Research. Experimentation. A willingness to lose a little money in those endeavors. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years just to see if something I've thought up would work out in real life. I've pored over research papers, books, correspondences for hours on end trying to figure something about about, let's say, green tea extract. You really have to love the materials.
I've watched as people in my field have come and gone, and also watched some rise. I always like to see them rise because it gives me hope that I might rise as well, and it's possible that I have, a little anyway, and just don't know it yet. I've been in this business for over 20 years. I started with conviction when my youngest son was 9 months old. He celebrated his 22nd birthday last month. I've been in it this long and it still feels new to me. I'm still excited to receive a big box of organic cocoa butter, or a package filled with petitgrain sur fleur neroli, rose otto, and geranium oils. I still get a thrill when I open the bottles and boxes to begin evaluations. I love pulling out perfume bottle catalogs (Brosse!) and digging through the pages of a Uline
catalog for cool packaging ideas. Eco-friendly, of course. I love learning about new ideas, new ingredients, innovations. I also love the solitary and meditative life all of this affords me. And I equally love the people with whom I share this passion, perfumers who are artists and stewards of a vibrant planet, students who want to change the world one enfleurage at a time. 
Once this stage of production ends, a new one begins. The old formulation books will be pulled out, and the best of the best will be reformulated and made into oil, butter, and alcohol perfumes. And incense will be reborn. I know a few people who are waiting anxiously for more sultry sticks of The Ram. 

See you on the scented side.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Despite the Delays

Nothing ever goes as planned around here. There's always something stepping in the way of progress, usually related to jealousy and spite with a bit of paranoia (mine) thrown in for good measure. I must get beyond all that and remember that I'm running a business here! I've been so long away from the work that I feel I'm on a permanent vacation. Not a very good vacation, either. I've not gone anywhere exotic or historically significant, I've not learned anything new beyond the four walls of the houses I've been living in for the past year. The places I used to love to visit for inspiration are dessicated from years of drought or burned to dust. The world is changing too quickly for my not-so-elastic mind to keep up.

I just want to create.

As soon as I'm off this box, I'm headed to the brand new kitchen to cook up some beautiful lotion bars for the shop. Jasmine and Green Tea Extract lotion bars, to be exact. Part of a wee set of natural nourishing skincare that includes a rhassoul-based facial mask and a jasmine and green tea extract infused soap. The soap is incredible smelling! Everytime I pass the drying rack, I'm hit with the strong and intensely beautiful scent of jasmine pearl tea. Like I said, incredible.



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Skincare ~ Almost There

I'm working on a small batch of soap today made with organic olive oil, organic coconut oil, raw shea butter, and organic cocoa butter enriched with green tea extract and infused with brewed green tea. To scent it, very lightly, I'm adding jasmine sambac concrete, bergamot, and vetyver oil.

Tomorrow I'll work on the solid body butter to somewhat match the jasmine/green tea theme.


All of the new soaps will more or less match the enriched masks, and the solid body butters will match the soaps.

Every day brings me a little bit closer to the finish line with this very carefully constructed natural skincare line. Once these are up and going, I will refocus my energy onto new natural perfumes and incense. 

Right now, I'm almost too tired to be doing this. We had our tea on Thursday and I prepared way too much food for the number of people who showed up. It was a fun evening, but by the end of it, I was whipped. After this afternoons soap making session, I'm going to take a bit of a rest before starting over again tomorrow.

Keep an eye out for the new skincare. I've been using these masks once or twice a week since I made them (about three weeks ago now), and my favorite by far is the rhassoul and banaba leaf extract formulation. The texture of my skin has improved quite a lot since using that one. It's just good clean skincare.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Phase 6,963

Organic apple cider vinegar brewing. This is the first batch made at the Plum Palace, and the first new batch made in over a year. I used a wee bit of the dregs from the last batch to help start this one. This stuff is like liquid gold. I used previous batches for my business as luscious infused skincare, and the soupier stuff I used at home for cleaning, as food, and as medicine. If you've got gut issues from using antibiotics or from a bout of gastroenteritis, take a shot glass of organic unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with your probiotic of choice to get your gut right again. Using it as a facial wash or toner makes your skin glowy, but you can't use it every day or you'll dry out like a prune, and it works wonders for my granddaughter's eczema flare-ups. She once had a stubborn patch of eczema that didn't respond to any of the otc or prescribed creams we used, but a couple of apple cider vinegar baths later and that stuff was shut down for over two years. Now, all of this is anecdotal as I'm not a scientist, but there is some evidence that apple cider vinegar helps with all of the issues I've brought up here. Once this batch is done, it will be divided into three jars and infused with botanical extracts for the shop, then I'm starting another batch for the house.

The rest of the skincare is coming along. I'm awaiting the arrival of a couple more essential oils for argan infused butter bars and balms, get those finished, then it's on to the soaps. I'm also going to whip up a batch of Yasmina oil perfume. I've had more than a few requests for this lush perfume in the past year, so I'm bringing it back and keeping it. And maybe a rose oil perfume too.


 

I've missed this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cat's Outta The Bag


Today, my assistant and I are going to start phase two of three of the Djinn's naked natural skincare, butters 'n balms. There's also a batch of phase one product, a lovely frankincense extract infused facial mask, left to complete. And then in the coming days we will begin phase three, extract infused natural handmade soap. Eventually perfumes, alcohol, solid, and oil, will be added, as well as incense. I've got Kyphi brewing at the moment. Plus I have some compounded incense resins that were being worked on this time last year that are just about ready to go.

It's coming together -- now if I could just get the shop off of Etsy and onto the new website, it'll be legit.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Tuberose

Tuberose bud, Justine's garden, October 2017

I got another single flowering tuberose this year. Last year I got one that bloomed in a different pot than this one. They all grow, all the wee bulbs, but I'm not getting any flowering except for one at a time, two years in a row. So. They get their own bed now. Out of the pots, where my hope is they've multiplied, and into a permanent bed where they can be harvested in a year -- that is, if they all decide to bloom instead of taking turns like the polite little flowers they are. I clipped the single bloom last night and put it in water and set it on the kitchen counter. It has filled the kitchen and dining area with scent. Everyone keeps calling it 'honeysuckle', which kind of bugs, but what do they know? Perhaps tuberose is progressive and would link arms with honeysuckle in defense of all flowers. I'd rather think their hermit-like behavior is rooted in a strong sense of self and confidence rather than in flower class snobbery.

I just overheard someone here call them 'two bros'.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

New Beginnings

I have a Roundup neighbor.

The house to the right of ours had been unsold and vacant since we moved in in August until about two weeks ago. The house is enormous with two master suites and 3 additional bedrooms, a large open concept living/kitchen area, and a formal dining room. The backyard is dinky, though, apartment sized. Yet the two people who moved in take turns with the Roundup sprayer shooting every square inch of their property, both the landscaped front and unlandscaped back, almost daily. I've never seen a weed phobia like this before. I can't use any of the rosemary planted on the right side of my driveway because of the Mr.'s Roundup, and I'm beginning to wonder how saturated the fence boards on that side of the backyard have become. I'm planting all of my vegetables and perfumery plants in raised beds with liners to avoid weeds, and I guess to some extent, Roundup now too. I may have to have a talk with them if they keep up with this poisoning business.

I hope and pray the neighbors on the left don't get chemical crazy. So far they seem to appreciate plants as they have a jungle of potted plants in their backyard. There is life in suburbia after all.

I'm setting up shop again in the new place. Today we begin mixing and formulating some really fantastic all natural mineral and botanical skincare. A package of organic cocoa butter arrived here yesterday and my new assistant proclaimed, as I walked in the door from being gone all day, "I don't know what's in that bag, but it smells just like chocolate!" It does indeed!

One problem I'm finding living in this new place is postal delivery. The neighborhood is so new, and so far out of the city limits that it doesn't have a regular post office delivery service but a contract delivery service. If what is being shipped to my house isn't a big box that won't fit in the box at the end of the block -- the big boxes get delivered to the door -- the contract worker will send them back to the post office marked return to sender if the mailbox parcel cubicle already has someone else's parcel in it. I've had three packages sent back because of this, so now I will be looking into getting a PO box, which, honestly, I should do anyway. I'm sure the contract worker is run ragged and probably isn't obligated to keep trying to re-deliver mail, but it's damned inconvenient not getting my stuff on time. Hence the delay in getting The Scented Djinn up and running again. Well, that and everything else that's been going on around here.

I count myself very fortunate despite these minor set-backs, because they are just that -- minor.





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