We’re spending a leisurely, fun winter day in Providence, Rhode Island.
This article covers our third stop of the day, Providence Perfume Company on Wickenden Street.
We’ve savored a delicious lunch at Pakorang on South Main Street, and enjoyed art at the RISD museum. After viewing art, the natural impulse is to make art. So let’s craft our own perfume.
We favor walking as the best way to see this city, even in winter. It allows us to see more and it keeps us fit. It’s a short 1/2 mile to our destination. Head south, turn left at the next street (Williams) and then right on Benefit–the street famous for its colonial architecture.
How is the crafting of perfume an art?
In an interview with Diane Ackerman, Sonia Grojsman, a professional nose from the International Fragrance and Flavors Inc. in New York, compares the process of perfume making to music. A perfumer draws on skills of tone, color and balance, as does a musical composer. A composer creates a symphony of sound; a perfumer creates a symphony of scent.
Can shopping be leisurely?
I’m an advocate of the slow life. Those of us who are committed to savoring instead of rushing are convinced that the benefits of slow living include better health, better relationships, and more freedom to enjoy life. Wickenden Street in Providence is a place to stroll, linger and browse, to intentionally do less in order to experience more. Providence Perfume Company has certainly found the fight neighborhood for its flagship store.
PPC founder/owner Charna Ethier, walking encyclopedia of all things perfume, (and recently nominated for the prestigious Rising Star Perfumer award!) will guide your journey into the scent-sational world of natural fragrance.
You can craft your own unique, all-natural scent at Providence Perfume Company:
You’ll receive a quick education in perfumery (similar to what you’d receive in a beginning wine class–an introduction to aesthetic appreciation and basic terminology). Your guide will help you create a fragrance in which the individual components blend together like pieces of a puzzle
- First you’ll select the base in which to mix your fragrances: 1–non-aromatic organic grain alcohol (advantage: easiest to work with); or — one of PPC’s trademark infused alcohol bases (advantage: expands the perfumers palette, creates a more complex fragrance and leaves the most intense trail of scent when you wear it); or 3–an oil base (advantage: lasts the longest, good for dry skin, subtle trail of scent is preferred by understated personality types and for professional/work environments).
- Then you’ll choose a perfume oil to serve as your base note scent from among the slowest evaporating oils such as vanilla, patchouli, sandalwood, and fir balsam.
- Add the heart note (or notes), perhaps lily, jasmine, rose or ylang ylang.
- Finish with a top note to add sparkle and effervescence: black pepper, rosewood, cardamom, bitter orange, or pink grapefruit.
- Record your formula so you can replicate and fine-tune it next time.
Even without my concerns for environmental and human health, I always choose natural perfumes over synthetic (and am absolutely thrilled that I now can buy mine locally).
A natural perfume is to synthetic perfume what a fine wine is to soda pop.
People like me who are into food and wine will immediately notice the differences. Synthetic perfumes smell like department stores. You get industrially-produced blasts of artificial petrochemicals. A natural perfume smells like what the ingredient-name says it is. Sniffing the extracted essence of actual woods, resins, and plants from the Caribbean, Africa, India, Europe, Polynesia, your nose takes you on a scent-sational trip around the world.
I love, love, love what you’re doing at Providence Perfume Company, Charna Ethier!
If you can’t make it to Providence to shop, visit the Providence Perfume Company online store and treat your nose to some amazing perfume samples. After trying natural perfume, you might wonder why you ever thought non-natural fragrances smelled good.