More changes!

For those who follow èrlithe on Facebook, you would have discovered that I no longer have an online shop for my perfume Why is this so? you may ask. Well here’s the longish answer.

I began selling my perfume online in 2013 when my family and I lived in Tasmania. From there I also had a few stockists and sold at markets. In 2015, our family relocated back to Newcastle. The move back to Newcastle has seem some considerable changes to our lives. Particularly around employment.

My husband has a PhD and worked as an academic for 15 years. During that 15 years he never once was able to properly take annual leave. I know that sounds unbelievable but it’s true. The time he was supposed to take his leave (over the January summer holiday), coincided with grant application cut off dates. If we ever managed to get away as a family, the laptop came with him so that he could do his work. To keep his job, he not only had to prepare and deliver lectures and tutorials, mark student work, attend meetings and keep up to date with never ending administrative tasks and paper work, he had to publish a certain amount of papers every year, present at conferences and win competitive grants – every year. The research and writing of papers and grant applications had to take place out of work hours. The work load was essentially ridiculous. He was able to do a fair amount of work from home and so to the outside observer he had everything sweet. People were also envious of the amount of travel he had to do – but it was never for leisure. He would be busy working on his computer at airports, on the plane, to then step off the plane and present and participate at a conference. This often was not taken into workload calculations and so when he got back home he was behind on work and having to deal with student complaints. He was also expected to supervise PhD students which was also not taken into account from his teaching workload. For 15 years I have watched my husband work from first thing in the morning to around 11pm every night, 7 days a week. When he finally cracked and had to take sick leave (with a medical certificate provided), you would not believe that his manager harassed him continually via phone, demanding that he organise a replacement for himself. When he was answering around the 5th call from his manager in the one day, it took me taking the phone out of his hands and in a not so polite way telling the manager that it was their responsibility to find a replacement for him as he was sick, that they kind of stopped bothering him.

So he quit. He has been without a traditional job for a year now. He has started a company and like all starting businesses, it takes a little time to get things flowing. This coincided with me trying to sell my perfume at The Emporium. Unfortunately, the centre of Newcastle is not frequented in large numbers and so it was proving not to be a wise economic decision for me to be standing there for 4 days when I could have been earning money as a nurse to feed the family. So with an uncertain income from my husband, children to care for and unable to be in two places at once, I left the Emporium to work. Working full time leaves me little time to focus on the perfume and the moment you are not working social media etc, numbers dwindle to your online store. So, the online store became yet another expense that had to go.

A lot of my perfume supplies come from America and the current exchange rate has meant my supplies are costing me way more than before. It’s amazing how everything just chips away at any profit. Website costs, email costs, transaction fee costs charged by not only Paypal but the e-commerce platform as well. Postage costs have risen, supply costs have risen, insurance costs – phew, the list goes in. Bottom line, my monthly expenses have been exceeding my monthly perfume income for … well … basically most of the time I’ve been selling the perfume. So, I’ve had to pull the pin. Which is really quite sad. I feel incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved, even if it was not economically viable. It’s been a huge learning curve. It would be great if the learning could of been confined to just making perfume because that’s the part I love, but it’s no use having a lovely product if you lack the skills in promoting the product, and that’s where everything kind of goes pear shaped for me. I don’t like promoting myself or my work.

Another snag is physical space. My home is very very small. It makes it incredibly tricky for me to make my perfume in any sort of efficient manner. It takes forever, to find a space, clear it and set up my supplies. When you are busy working and then on days off trying to make time to set up a space to make perfume, it becomes a little frustrating.

Another frustration is the internet in Australia. It’s a joke. Speeds are painfully slow and I’ve had my internet dropping in and out and then completely out for days at a time. After fixing apparently many broken wires in my connection, it now seems to be working ok, but there have been times over the past few years when it makes you want to tear your hair out.

So, where am I up to now. I have deactivated my website. After the sadness of doing that and announcing on Facebook that I will no longer be operating as a business, I was able to think a tiny bit clearer on how perhaps I could still maintain some sort of profile, so that perhaps if circumstances change in the future I would be able to continue on with my perfume. What I am in the process of doing is transferring my domain to another registrar. Once the transfer takes place, I will have the domains http://www.erlithe.com and http://www.erlithe.com.au both point to this blog. At the top of this blog is a menu with Shop. Under that page is a description of my current fragrances and how to contact me if you are interested in purchasing any of the fragrances. From there, you let me know what you are interested in and the address you would like the perfume sent to. If I have the perfume in stock, I then send a money request for what you want via paypal and as soon as I receive payment I post the perfume to you. Quite simple really and it cuts down on a few overhead costs.

Strangely, since deactivating my website, I have had more orders placed this way this month than my usual monthly orders via my website.

I am also hoping to soon have time to discuss with a gorgeous friend the possibility of having my female perfumes available for sale in her shop plus for the mens fragrances to be available from a local barber. At some stage I might also look at doing markets but because I don’t have a car – there’s going to have to be some problem solving around how I get my stuff to a market.

My Rose Tea solid perfume has turned out to be very popular. People have smelt it on others and then contacted me via the above mentioned method to purchase. Currently I have sold out and you wouldn’t believe it, but the rooibus tea absolute that went into it is no longer available. This week I am hoping to finalise a reformulation of it and get another batch made up.

So that’s where I am up to at the moment. I had all but given up with the whole perfume thing when I sat down and had a smell of some of my materials and my heart was filled with joy. I knew then that I could not give up completely and I am doing my best to try and hang in there as best I can.

Kerry Che x

Chocolate without calories!

Chocolate without calories! Is this for real? Has our world entered some bizzaro parallel universe where this is possible?

Sadly no, but don’t despair … the next best thing is … chocolate perfume! It seems I am the evil master of gourmand fragrance. Here to tantalise your taste (um I mean nose) buds is our latest release – BLUSH. This is a reformulation of our very popular 010 geranium, vanilla and musk perfume, only less earthy and more chocolatey with the addition of my very aged organic cacao nib tincture base plus more floral notes of rose de mai and ylang ylang to the geranium heart.

Samples of the latest perfumes are now available for purchase from the èrlithe website and can be purchased for $10 each or $28 for a pack of 4 (plus postage).

erlithe new perfume samples

 

I now have 2 size options available for purchase: an 8ml atomiser for $55 and a 15ml atomiser for $95 (please note I cannot ship these sizes overseas due to the alcohol content).

erlithe Blush natural perfume

If you choose to try our new fragrance BLUSH, I would love to hear what you think! You can do this by leaving a comment below or leaving a review directly on the website. If you have any questions about the latest offerings, please ask away in the comments below.

Kerry x

25.07.16 PS: the links to the website for purchase have been removed as I am no longer operating an online store. For details on how to purchase, click on shop in the above menu bar.

The new perfumes are finally on the website

Hi folks, I have finally been able to get my new perfumes up on the website with some new packaging. I now offer 2 women’s perfume and 2 men’s perfume.

BLUSH: female floral gourmand fragrance. This is a re-formulation of the popular 010 geranium, vanilla and musk. It still contains those notes but I have removed the earthy component vetiver and amped up the chocolate note and added more florals – ylang ylang, orris and rose de mai.

AURA: female floral oriental fragrance. Featuring florals of jasmine, rose, orange flower, champaca and magnolia on an incense base.

COGNAC & ESPRESSO: male spicy gourmand. This is our cult fragrance 070. It was hands down the most loved fragrance at The Emporium. This fragrance simply cannot go into retirement, it is loved by both men and women and people are literally hunting me down for it. I kid you not!

BAY RUM: male exotic spice fragrance. Bay rum is a popular fragrance amongst men and so I have devised my own take on the fragrance. It is spicy as one expects from bay west essential oil with a gentle floral heart of neroli and jasmine on a base of wood and earthy vetiver to give it a greater longevity than a usual cologne.

erlithe natural perfume

I hope you love the new line up, labels and packaging as much as I do.

Kerry x

A re-focus

As my followers may know I’ve been operating a retail space at The Emporium, Hunter Street Mall, since October last year thanks to Renew Newcastle. A month ago I decided to give my notice and last week moved out of my space for good. It was a difficult decision to make because I had dreamt of a retail space and have absolutely enjoyed the company and inspiration from my fellow Emporium folk.

èrlithe at The Emporium

èrlithe at The Emporium

So, why?

There are many reasons, a lot being simply practical, but at the heart of it is essentially a shift and re-focus within me. It has been something I have been grappling with since the launch of my natural perfumes. On the one hand I had grand visions of developing an international brand and have been poised to make a huge financial investment of purchasing glorious bottles with a total re-branding and pushing my product out there whilst on the other hand I have always questioned whether this was truly what I wanted.

With time my answer finally came. As I observed what others were doing, the more I realised that to make it “work” I had to shift my focus on things that would bring me no joy. As I attended business and marketing workshops my heart sank even further. Initially I embraced what I apparently needed to do to get my product out there but basically everything I was being told to do sat at complete odds with my outlook on life. As a result, everything I was doing with perfume started to feel heavy and burdensome. I joined Twitter thinking I would receive interesting news and facts, instead I received updates on promotions and sales and what someone had just ate for dinner. Instagram became a never ending deluge of images of products being photographed next to flowers – yes, the images are beautiful, but there is only so much one can take of this repetitive theme and of course the ubiquitous photograph of the ever so healthy meal that someone was about to consume. Then there are the email newsletters. I hate getting bombarded with never ending emails about promotions but this is apparently what you do to compete. Likewise, Facebook – apparently we have to post many times a day to make sure we always capture someones attention. Life becomes measured in how many likes and shares one gets.

I have simply become weary. To operate a retail space which had been my dream, I realised I was going to have to keep coming up with products for people to buy and then of course convince people through marketing that they needed these things. So after having a glimpse into the retail world and fully digesting what I would need to do if I was to make perfume my actual job, I have decided to let it go. I don’t mean to let it go entirely, but rather letting go of attempting to force perfume to be my actual job.

My focus now is upon making life simpler and in the process I hope to bring as much love to everyone I have contact with. I have returned to nursing on a casual basis. Nursing is a tough gig but for me is a profoundly rewarding experience. I see people at their weakest and most vulnerable. It grounds me to what is most important in life. I now see it as an incredible privilege, to have witnessed first hand the full gamut of human emotion and be there without judgement, to comfort and heal in whatever shape that is.

My perfume will remain low key. I want to offer perfume from a space of joy, not from a space of force or large production. I have finally found peace with the fact that I won’t be seeking to make èrlithe a full time job, hunting down stockists and trying to get my name out there through marketing bombardment. I am allowing it to be what it is and if it grows, it will do so organically. Even if I was to bring joy to only one person in the year through a perfume, then my goal has been accomplished.

Goodbye Emporium

Goodbye Emporium

To my lovely followers, thank you for your support, kind words and amazing product reviews. I am truly grateful that you have chosen to spend your money on something that I have created.

Kerry x

 

 

 

Neglecting the online world

How time flies – it’s been 4 months since my last post, plus my online store has been neglected somewhat. This is because my time has been taken up with the retail space at The Emporium. The lead up to Christmas was busy and most of my perfume stock was sold, which left little for the online shop. I’ve also been focusing on custom fragrance through the “self scented” perfume bar – which has been a fabulous experience. It’s great working with someone around their preferences and then adding in something extra to make the perfume sing. The look on a persons face when the perfume is just what they wanted is incredibly rewarding.

My time there has also been spent on developing a new fragrance line with new packaging and labels. So hopefully over the coming weeks these will start to be released in the shop and online. I’m patiently waiting for my final supplies to arrive so that I can begin the making. One of them is an incredibly luxurious perfume and everyone who has tried it from my sample loves it. My young son even announced that I smelt beautiful when I came home from work wearing it. It is a departure from my usual gourmand and oriental style. I wanted to create a green floral with transparent water notes and a powder dry down. It features notes of cucumber, galbanum, pink lotus, boronia, magnolia, neroli, beeswax, violet leaf and orris.

On my one day off a week, I’ve discovered the amazing world of botanical dyes. Inspired by my botanical perfumes, I’ve been using foraged plant material from the local community garden and neighbourhood to dye silk scarves. They are a lovely complement to my perfumes in the retail space. So until I have photos of my new fragrance line I thought I’d share photos of some of the scarves I have made. Sadly, some were bought before I got a chance to photograph : (

Blueberry, carrot, onions, avocado, lavender, paprika, sea salt.

Blueberry, carrot, onions, avocado, lavender, paprika, sea salt.

basil and madder silk

Madder, basil, mint, onion skin, paprika and rust

eucalyptus, rust and tea silk

Eucalyptus leaves, rose petals, tea, onion skin, rust and paprika

silk bundle

A silk bundle all wrapped up

eucalyptus, rust, tea silk2

Eucalyptus, rose leaves and petals, onion , tea and rust.

gardenia, madder and logwood silk

Gardenia powder, madder, logwood and osage orange.

èrlithe perfumery open!

It’s been a busy few weeks. From finding out that I’ve been offered a retail space through Renew Newcastle in the Emporium, Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle to working out how to use the space and of course moving in to the space. There’s been a bit of rearranging and no doubt a little bit more rearranging to come.

The space I’ve been allocated used to be part of the beauty/cosmetic section when the department store David Jones occupied the building. I’m pretty sure (if my memory is correct) that it was the Lancome counter for sometime.

Here are some photos capturing the transformation of the space into my very own little boutique perfumery:

My space at the emporium

My space at the emporium

Starting to take shape

Starting to take shape

Transporting supplies right to the counter

Transporting supplies right to the counter

Initial display for first day

Initial display for first day

Further refinement Day 2

Further refinement Day 2

Despite not having the labels ready for my perfume bar bottles, a lovely chap was all geared up to have a go at choosing his ingredients for a custom blend. It turned out amazing with notes of: cedar, lavender, fig, rosewood and bergamot. He actually had a really fine tuned nose and it was great to hear his impressions as he smelt the ingredients. With shop sales + online orders today it’s been a fabulous start, to what I hope will become an exciting smell experience for all who stop by.

Cedar and Lavender custom blend

Cedar and Lavender custom blend

Perfumers alcohol – the blog post with the most hits!

My blog post perfume oil vs perfume diluted with alcohol is the post with the most views. In fact it is responsible for the bulk of my blog views everyday. The search terms also highlight the fact that the whole topic leaves many people perplexed. Understandably there are many rules around purchasing high proof alcohol for safety reasons and taxation purposes and then there is the whole headache around shipping. Hopefully that particular blog entry does clarify things for people coming to my blog looking for information around diluting perfume materials.

I have been using 190 proof neutral grape alcohol to dilute my alcohol based eau de parfums. With the move from Tasmania to NSW I had the headache around transporting my bulk supply of alcohol. It was all becoming a complete pain and sadly the easiest thing to do was to get a company that deals with the disposal of chemicals to take it off my hands. That meant I had to reapply for a permit from the Australian Taxation Office which takes up to 4 weeks to process and then you have to order and wait for the delivery of your alcohol. In order to get the renewal you have to provide a record to the ATO of what you have done with the previous lot of alcohol.

As there are always choices I spent a bit of time pondering what would be the best choice for my next bulk alcohol purchase. They were:

190 proof neutral grape alcohol as before – needs a permit

190 proof neutral cane alcohol – needs a permit

190 proof standard grade cane alcohol (organic) – needs a permit

190 proof denatured neutral cane alcohol (Perfumery grade 95PGF4)- no permit required

I also contacted many distilleries to see if they could make a bespoke 190 proof alcohol for me – sadly most could not with the equipment that they had and those that could had a 200L minimum!

I was interested in knowing whether my customers would prefer my perfumes being in an organic alcohol. Surprisingly, no they weren’t! The feedback I received was to choose what ever alcohol does not interfere with the aroma of my beautiful perfumes. Reading on the internet revealed that a number of overseas perfumers were unhappy with their organic standard grade cane alcohol – primarily because when they diluted individual ingredients in the alcohol there was a sweetness to the alcohol that interfered with them being able to smell and get to know the perfume material they had diluted – pretty important if you want to understand the odour profile of your ingredient, especially new ones you have not smelt before!

So, I decided to speak to the lab staff from the Australian chemical supply company. The lovely chap confirmed that yes their organic cane alcohol did have a slight sweet smell to it because it was standard grade. This meant that it had higher levels of volatile impurities. The neutral cane alcohol however had lower levels of volatile impurities compared to their organic cane alcohol which results in improved odour and taste. Furthermore, their organic cane alcohol was actually imported. So, all in all the organic sugar cane alcohol was adding up to be a no go for me, despite the fact that I could have then marketed my perfumes as at least 80% organic – simply referring to the alcohol component only not my actual aromatic perfume ingredients.

Whilst I was waiting for my permit I decided that I desperately needed to purchase some alcohol so that I could continue with my work. I purchased the denatured cane alcohol which is exactly the same as their neutral cane alcohol but denatured with 0.25% tertiary butyl alcohol making it non-potable. The great thing is that because it requires no permit I also don’t have to keep records accounting for it’s use. This is actually going to be a big plus for when I run workshops. It would just be another bit of annoying record keeping that I now don’t have to be concerned with.

I have had my permit approved so when the supply of my current alcohol runs low I will most likely go back to purchasing the neutral grape alcohol – simply because I have the permit, despite the annoying record keeping that comes along with it! It is also half the price of the denatured alcohol!

Perfumers neutral cane alcohol

Perfumers neutral cane alcohol

Newsflash!! èrlithe perfumery to open in Newcastle

I mentioned in a previous post that I had some possible exciting news. I can now announce that the possible exciting news is actually a reality!

I’ve been very fortunate to have been offered a retail space for èrlithe perfumes in the Emporium, Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle. Local novocastrians will remember the building as having been the location for David Jones for a very long time. The space has been offered as part of the Renew Newcastle project.

The Emporium Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle.

The Emporium Hunter Street Mall, Newcastle.

Renew Newcastle is currently doing some re-arranging of the internal space to accommodate me. Hopefully I’ll be ready to start trading mid to late October – to keep up to date with what’s happening simply like my Facebook page (don’t worry, I don’t bombard with never ending posts!).

It’s an exciting opportunity to be able to share what I do with more people. My finished perfumes will be available for sale through the retail space and will also be back online soon. I will also be adding a perfume bar where customers who would like to choose their own ingredients can have me blend a simple perfume for them on the spot. As I get familiar with the whole retail experience, I’ll be expanding to offer a full bespoke fragrance service for customers who want their very own unique perfume.

So that I can work from the retail space on new scent creations I’m in the process of decanting small amounts of all my ingredients into tiny bottles to set up a mini portable perfumers organ. So far I’ve filled 48 bottles with about 150 to go!

Preparing a mini perfumers organ

Preparing a mini perfumers organ

It was a sad occasion the day David Jones vacated the building in the Hunter Street Mall. I basically lived in that building! Our family moved in to town back in early 2000 and my eldest son was a tiny guy back then. A few times a week we would go for a walk down the mall and find ourselves in David Jones looking at the kids toys and buying a cookie from the Cookie Man. To be able to be back in that building which holds so many fond memories doing what I love is a dream come true. Interestingly, my space will be quite close to where the David Jones fragrance section used to be – I will actually be located at one of the old beauty counters.

So, if you live in Newcastle make sure to drop by soon. If you don’t live in Newcastle you really should visit. It’s an amazing city. It’s a quick walk across to the beautiful harbour and a leisurely 5 minute stroll through the mall will see you arrive at Pacific Park where they now hold the Hunt and Gather markets once a month.

Hunter Street Mall Newcastle

Hunter Street Mall Newcastle

Pacific Park Newcastle

Pacific Park Newcastle

A turn right at the above building will see you quickly arrive at the beautiful Newcastle beach!

Newcastle Beach

Newcastle Beach

So make sure you stop by, say hi and have a smell of my natural botanical perfumes where perfumes are made by hand in small batches at the only perfumery in NSW!

Sunday afternoon watercolour

It’s been a little while since I’ve done some drawing/painting and so my goal today was to take the young guy to the beach for some beachcombing …

Nobbys Beach

Nobbys Beach

followed by some foraging in the community garden. Once home I then pulled out my adored watercolours and did a very simple backdrop for some lovely bright flowers the young guy had picked on our foraging expedition …

Watercolour and flowers

Watercolour and flowers

I then had a play around with Photoshop to create a different feel …

Photoshop adjustment

Photoshop adjustment

All in all a relaxing Sunday!

Kerry Che x

My current favourite perfume ingredient – galbanum

Galbanum was one of the first perfume ingredients I bought years ago – it sounded interesting. At the time though I was not ready for such an ingredient! Only now am I appreciating it’s full beauty.

Galbanum essential oil is steam distilled from the resin collected from the ferula galbaniflua flowering plant. Galbanum has an initial intense slap in the face fresh green aroma, with peppery nuances. It seems to be both hot and cool at the same time. Upon dry down it reveals balsamic wood notes.

Galbanum essential oil

Galbanum essential oil

As I mentioned in my previous post I am currently working on a green floral. I’m loving the versions with the intense green galbanum note but I’m mindful that there are going to be people who may not be up for the challenge of galbanum – just like I wasn’t at the start of my perfume journey. So, today I went for a trip to the department store to try out Chanel No.19, to find out how “green” does a commercial fragrance go. I certainly did detect some “green” freshness in the opening but I did not find it overly intense. So it leaves me to ponder whether to go intense or hold back a bit on the bracing greenness of galbanum.

I have fond memories of sampling the Aftelier Haute Clair a few years back (which is now a retired fragrance) and my assessment notes at the time say it was very green, peppery, fresh with a sweet floral heart. I do remember that the galbanum was quite pronounced and yet well balanced with the creamy floral ylang ylang.

I’m really enjoying working on this fragrance as it’s a departure from my preference for oriental style fragrances and spicy gourmands. So hopefully there will be a new èrlithe fragrance release in the not too distant future.

Kerry Che x