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the ups and downs of life

Well….lots of time has passed since my last entry and also many thoughts and events.  First and foremost, I decided to work toward finding ways to stay in France!  This part of the decision was clinched when a perfumery student from this year decided not to take over my apartment.  I felt a sense of relief with the decision to stay. After all, this place feels like home. I was very excited and began planning the details of a very small launch of the perfume I developed during the Fall semester in School (working with Max Gavarry on the formula).  I had decided that producing the perfume here with a ‘made in France’ label and then shipping to Canada to sell would be an interesting way to begin.  I had had my meeting with Monsieur Roudnitska and he had said this might be a good consideration.  A fine fragrance with a label saying ‘made in Canada’ just does not have quite the same flair!

Then, exactly one month ago today, I went to a neighbouring village for an amazing Fete du Mimosa, and arriving home after 3 hours, on that Sunday morning, I found my apartment broken into, and turned completely upside down and inside out!!!  They took all that was of any value, including jewellery, money, mobile phone, mp3 speakers, hairdryer, clock radio etc etc,  plus all my most valuable perfumes; but most tragically- my laptop.  In it were 1000’s of photos from my whole year here, as well as many essays and business files.  I had no back-up and no insurance, so all is gone for good.  Not only that, but I know I was targeted, since they let the air out of one of my car tires, which I didn’t notice until I was out of Grasse and I suppose, was meant to slow me down. Either way, it has taken some serious work to re-establish a good feeling about this town and to be able to sleep through the night without panic attacks.  It is so strange to have your personal space gone through so thoroughly by strangers, to have them see all and even touch everything, then take whatever they want.  Then to have absolutely no idea who it was.  I come every day still wondering if I will find the lock broken again….

 So now what?  Well, I am now at the enormous company of Mane and Fils, 2 weeks into an internship in the marketing/evaluation department.  It is very interesting and I am learning a lot that I will be able to apply to my business after.  I understand now how important it is to know the competition inside out and how to go about mapping it.  We are currently organizing the fine fragrance collection also, which means that we can access and smell all of the most important perfumes that are on the market.  This is fantastic and so important.  I am chomping at the bit to get back to creation; and to work with the raw materials, but I know that all aspects of the industry are important.  That said, the mainstream industry, which is what I am learning all about, is based on cost and production/delivery time, not creativity.  At least not in the perfume creation department.  The majority of creativity is invested in marketing and how to please the rather conservative and purely aesthetic tastes of the average consumer.  There is little to no art in the perfume itself. and very limited freedom of expression. This is also a result of the intense legislation (in Europe in particular) as I know from the hours we spend each morning in that department entering all the data for the many layers of regulation that are required for the perfume compounds.  One woman I spoke with last week who has been an evaluator for 25 years lamented this change in the industry and said,  ‘ it’s nothing but business now’.  Personally I think the new Chloe is a prime example of this, and I agree with Chandler Burr that it smells like something that had a very low budget for the raw materials.  Gorgeous bottle though! And a marketing campaign with 3 beautiful models that I see splashed all over Cannes at the moment….  This is why I am interested in niche- where there is so much freedom.  I can’t wait to get to it!  But I know that this part of the training is necessary too.  Hence, I’ll keep going and see what happens….

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