Two years ago we formed a perfume oil business. I never liked spray perfumes, made me sneeze, the large atomising bottles, refilling the small ones….just too much hassle and digging a big branded perfume bottle out of my tiny handbag just didnt cut the mustard at a meeting or at the luncheon. For the intimate date in the evening, the visit to the Powder Room was not exactly discreet.
I have a huge dislike of smelling like a perfume shop, where my presence can be detected long before I arrive and the rest of the room takes my scent home afterwards like a cheap calling card! Perfume sprays do not last as the alcohol evaporates to nothing taking the scent with it.
Research, trials with mixing essential oils, mixing fragrance oils and suitable bottles to enable easy application was an eye-opener to the mysterious world of olfactory. But more than that I learn that fragrance oils were more stable, the aroma lasted longer, they did not cause sensitisation where you can actually have an allergic reaction to essential oils, hence why used with great care when you visit a spa for a massage. The fragrance oils were more stable when mixed with carriers to enable the oils to be smoothed onto your skin. All in all, what I had been searching for.
In the last couple of years the “dry oils’ have found their place on the beauty counters as an alternative to heavier creams and lotions and the more oily body oils that leave you, well, oily. On my very white English skin, and not altogether toned stature, an oil slick of shine was not doing me any favours. But modern technology sometimes brings benefits and the science of taking natural elements and creating fragrance oils, that mix well with safe carrier solutions won the day.
So the Dose was born. A dose, a drop of oil. An oil that lasts, reacts with the heat of your skin, feels luxuriant and develops the layers of fragrance from top note to mid to bottom note as the day goes by. A little discreet top-up later, if needed…back to the bottle design.
Small is perfect. Roller ball, absolutely ideal. Handbag size, you bet. The Dose had a hidden symbol, which we had not noticed before. The O was a number – the power of zero, the power of one, one drop, absolute – what would be your signature fragrance? Sometimes a design unintentionally throws up another – two drops. This gave us a simple design for packaging, worked white on black or black on white. We could use both, yet the similarities kept it simple.
So in the making of a business, from an idea to a real tangible product we have our oil, the name, the image we wish to show of a simple oil delivered in a small convenient bottle that fits the handbag, the travel case, the clubbing purse. But now how do we design the bottle?
Our first idea and one I still love – was to have a simple semi-transparent cover. But any glue was ruined by the oil. A slight drip of oil and that was it, the flutter of a wrapper gone. We sent our bottles to manufacturers to paint – results were messy. Paint runs, over-spray marks. They looked terrible. The bottle was so tiny there were no manufacturers who could possibly deal with large orders without dedicated machinery – it was looking very costly.
So back to the drawing board. A cut finger later, with one of those stretchy plaster tubes on it presented an idea – sewn covers. Leather – hard wearing, smart, lovely colours. We traced a tanner who worked for Chanel and pulled together 8 fragrances and 8 calf leathers, embossed and hand sewn. A scary commercial sewing machine that munched through the heavy leather made light work of the sewing, but it was hard work and my partner had long hours ensuring the stitching was perfect, straight and finished invisibly. I was impressed.
I love these, and we pushed on to get fragrance oils ready for the London stores. But then a problem. The tanner could not make these leathers again without huge investment. I am talking over twenty thousand pounds for leather alone! Without this the vision had burst. So poor O-Dose went on hold. We were too stressed to even send out sample in case we had an order.
But good things do happen. Brain-time to think after buying our barn – a re-location to make huge changes in our lives, resurrected O-Dose. The leather was lovely but time consuming. To keep the dream you need to make a profit and that means keeping your products simple. This week we went back to why we loved this product. Small, simple, convenient. Lets do the same with the covers. I like colour. I like tactile. I like to combine colours, I need to be able to make many and not with complexity. So we are researching rubber to see if this can be tinted and dipped – like a candle. And I assume it should bounce if its dropped. An added advantage.
So in a month or two I will post the rubber trials and Frankenstein orphans and maybe you can send me a comment or two on your thoughts. A Dose of free expression is always welcome.