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Opening a perfume business can set you on the road to financial independence, but you should only venture out on your own after you have completed your research and created a business plan. With startup capital to open a perfume business, ensuring you have access to perfume products, and determining whether there is a perfume market in your local area, you will be well on your way to financial success.
Perfume (English: /ˈpɝː.fjuːm/, French parfum pronounced: [paʁ.fœ̃]) is a mixture of fragrant essential oils and/or aroma compounds, fixatives, and solvents used to give the human body, animals, objects, and living spaces "a pleasant scent". The odoriferous compounds that make up a perfume can be manufactured synthetically or extracted from plant or animal sources.
Perfumes have been known to exist in some of the earliest human civilizations either through ancient texts or from archaeological digs. Modern perfumery began in the late 19th century with the commercial synthesis of aroma compounds such as vanillin or coumarin, which allowed for the composition of perfumes with smells previously unattainable solely from natural aromatics alone.
The word perfume used today derives from the Latin per fumus, meaning "through smoke". Perfumery, or the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt and was further refined by the Romans and Persians.
Although perfume and perfumery also existed in India, much of its fragrances are incense based. The earliest distillation of Ittar, arabic meaning scent, was mentioned in the Hindu Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita. The Harshacharita, written in 7th century in Northern India mentions use of fragrant agarwood oil.
The world's first recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics then filtered and put them back in the still several times.
In 2005, archaeologists uncovered what are believed to be the world's oldest perfumes in Pyrgos, Cyprus. The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years. The perfumes were discovered in an ancient perfumery. At least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were found in the 43,000-square-foot (4,000 m2) factory. In ancient times people used herbs and spices, like almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin, bergamot, as well as flowers.
The Arabian chemist, Al-Kindi (Alkindus), wrote in the 9th century a book on perfumes which he named Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations. It contained more than a hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. The book also described 107 methods and recipes for perfume-making and perfume making equipment, such as the alembic (which still bears its Arabic name).
The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose. Until his discovery, liquid perfumes were mixtures of oil and crushed herbs or petals, which made a strong blend. Rose water was more delicate, and immediately became popular. Both of the raw ingredients and distillation technology significantly influenced western perfumery and scientific developments, particularly chemistry.
The art of perfumery was known in western Europe ever since 1221, if we consider the monks' recipes of Santa Maria delle Vigne or Santa Maria Novella of Florence, Italy. In the east, the Hungarians produced in 1370 a perfume made of scented oils blended in an alcohol solution at the command of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, best known as Hungary Water. The art of perfumery prospered in Renaissance Italy, and in the 16th century, Italian refinements were taken to France by Catherine de' Medici's personal perfumer, Rene the Florentine (Renato il fiorentino). His laboratory was connected with her apartments by a secret passageway, so that no formulas could be stolen en route. Thanks to Rene, France quickly became one of the European centers of perfume and cosmetic manufacture. Cultivation of flowers for their perfume essence, which had begun in the 14th century, grew into a major industry in the south of France. Between the 16th and 17th century, perfumes were used primarily by the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from infrequent bathing. Partly due to this patronage, the perfumery industry was created. In Germany, Italian barber Giovanni Paolo Feminis created a perfume water called Aqua Admirabilis, today best known as eau de cologne, while his nephew Johann Maria Farina (Giovanni Maria Farina) in 1732 took over the business. By the 18th century, aromatic plants were being grown in the Grasse region of France, in Sicily, and in Calabria, Italy to provide the growing perfume industry with raw materials. Even today, Italy and France remain the center of the European perfume design and trade.
Perfume types reflect the concentration of aromatic compounds in a solvent, which in fine fragrance is typically ethanol or a mix of water and ethanol. Various sources differ considerably in the definitions of perfume types. The intensity and longevity of a perfume is based on the concentration, intensity and longevity of the aromatic compounds (natural essential oils / perfume oils) used: As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent created. Specific terms are used to describe a fragrance's approximate concentration by percent/volume of perfume oil, which are typically vague or imprecise. A list of common terms is as follows:
Perfume oils are often diluted with a solvent, though this is not always the case, and its necessity is disputed. By far the most common solvent for perfume oil dilution is ethanol or a mixture of ethanol and water. Perfume oil can also be diluted by means of neutral-smelling oils such as fractionated coconut oil, or liquid waxes such as jojoba oil.
Although quite often, Eau de Parfum (EdP) will be more concentrated than Eau de Toilette (EdT) and in turn Eau de Cologne (EdC), this not always the case. Different perfumeries or perfume houses assign different amounts of oils to each of their perfumes. Therefore, although the oil concentration of a perfume in EdP dilution will necessarily be higher than the same perfume in EdT from within the same range, the actual amounts can vary between perfume houses. An EdT from one house may be stronger than an EdP from another.
Men's fragrances are rarely sold as EdP or perfume extracts; equally so, women's fragrances are rarely sold in EdC concentrations. Although this gender specific naming trend is common for assigning fragrance concentrations, it does not directly have anything to do with whether a fragrance was intended for men or women. Furthermore, some fragrances with the same product name but having a different concentration name may not only differ in their dilutions, but actually use different perfume oil mixtures altogether. For instance, in order to make the EdT version of a fragrance brighter and fresher than its EdP, the EdT oil may be "tweaked" to contain slightly more top notes or fewer base notes. In some cases, words such as extrême, intense, or concentrée that might indicate aromatic concentration are actually completely different fragrances, related only because of a similar perfume accord. An example of this is Chanel's Pour Monsieur and Pour Monsieur Concentrée.
Eau de Cologne (EdC) since 1706 in Cologne, Germany, is originally a specific fragrance and trademark. However outside of Germany the term has become generic for Chypre citrus perfumes (without base-notes).
The precise formulae of commercial perfumes are kept secret. Even if they were widely published, they would be dominated by such complex ingredients and odorants that they would be of little use in providing a guide to the general consumer in description of the experience of a scent. Nonetheless, connoisseurs of perfume can become extremely skillful at identifying components and origins of scents in the same manner as wine experts.
The most practical way to start describing a perfume is according to the elements of the fragrance notes of the scent or the "family" it belongs to, all of which affect the overall impression of a perfume from first application to the last lingering hint of scent.
Perfume is described in a musical metaphor as having three sets of notes, making the harmonious scent accord. The notes unfold over time, with the immediate impression of the top note leading to the deeper middle notes, and the base notes gradually appearing as the final stage. These notes are created carefully with knowledge of the evaporation process of the perfume.
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