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Fear is a 4 letter word

Is fear holding you back from creating a fabulous fragrance?

We have all had to deal with fear at one time or another. Take a look at this comment from one of my perfume workshop students:

“I have learned so much from you, Melanie. I have put all of your lessons into practice: your hints and tricks and ways to succeed. What if I put too much of one oil and not enough of another? What if I just don’t like my final product? HELP!”

We are all human beings, and we all make mistakes — even the most popular and significant people. J. K. Rowling is a good example. She was a penniless single mother, suffering from severe depression, and trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. She got turned down time and time again before Harry Potter was finally published. She didn’t let fear stop her. And look at how successful she is now!

An example of a major celebrity who has struggled in the perfume industry is Michelle Pfeiffer. She has been building her transparent, unisex perfume brand Henry Rose for more than 20 years, but it was only in 2019 after years of trying to make it work that it finally took off.

If we can learn from them, mistakes can make us stronger and wiser and success won't happen overnight. Sometimes mistakes can even lead to incredible innovation and success.


Take Chanel No. 5 for instance. When the perfumers apprentice accidentally added ten times the amount of aldehyde required, we got the most iconic perfume ever!

NB: This a perfume legend and one that the perfumer's family and colleagues refute. Saying that Ernest Beau never mentioned it to them during his lifetime. But it’s a nice story that adds intrigue.


Let’s get back to my student (who by the way is wonderful and much more talented than she thinks) who was afraid about not being able to create the perfect perfume straight away. Stop worrying! It’s really no big deal. In fact it’s only through experimentation and making mistakes that we eventually succeed.

Think of it this way; if you make a mistake, you don’t fail. Rather, you discover something that doesn't work and know to avoid it in the future. This helps you move on to bigger and better ideas more quickly to achieve the result you want.

Just think; You have endless exciting options to experiment with and create new fragrances. Sometimes you will fail, but often you will succeed. That is a part of the process and a part of being a good perfumer. Even master perfumers don’t get it right all the time.

Fear can be tricky to live with, but it will always be part of the process. And it’s necessary to embrace it if you want to go far in the perfume industry.

And if you’re afraid of what others will think, don’t be.

You can’t be everything to everyone and still remain true to yourself.


Never lose sight of your own goals and vision. Be bold and use fear to your advantage. Embrace your uniqueness and success will seek you out. You might even create something iconic in the process.




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