I paid $89 to make my signature scent. The experience was intimate and creative, and I'll never purchase store-bought perfume again.
I attended a two-hour Bouquet Parfums perfume-making class in Brooklyn, New York.
The $89 interactive experience included smelling every scent and mixing the essences in test tubes.
After this perfume-making workshop, you won't catch me buying store-bought scents.
As someone who's never owned perfume, I was excited to build my signature scent.
Since I have seasonal allergies, I avoid wearing strong perfumes that trigger my sinus issues. Before visiting Bouquet Parfums, in Brooklyn, New York, I was intimidated because I didn't know how to choose a complimentary fragrance.
When my roommate went to a perfume-making class in Manhattan, she encouraged me to attend a workshop and find my signature scent, which according to Vogue, is a fun and unique way to express yourself.
I decided to try it out for myself, and the experience was one I'll never forget.
I had no idea what to expect from Bouquet Parfum's workshop.
Bouquet Parfums founder Nathan Dubois welcomed me and three other guests into his Brooklyn home for the perfume-making class in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a popular Brooklyn neighborhood.
Dubois, who is self-taught, began teaching workshops in 2022 and turned his kitchen table into a laboratory, creating an intimate setting for us to enjoy the process together.
He asked us about our relationships with perfume based on our favorite fragrances and helped steer us in the right direction.
First, we selected our base notes, the scent that lasts the longest on the skin.
Dubois thoroughly explained the makeup of perfume before we began. According to Dubois, perfume comprises three notes: top notes, heart notes, and base notes. According to Dubois, base notes last the longest, more than six hours, so we chose those scents first.
The four of us took turns smelling over 16 scents ranging from sandalwood to vanilla. I quickly realized I didn't like floral or earthy aromas and was drawn toward stronger scents, like musk.
He advised us to smell everything. "Even if you think you won't like it, there's actually very few people who have smelled the raw essence on its own, so I recommend always smelling everything to know what you like and what you don't," Dubois said.
I went with sandalwood, musk, and amber for my base scents. Dubois told me my choices best complement each other because of their deep, rich smell.
After choosing our base note scents, we added them to our beaker.
Dubois was thorough and attentive, ensuring we had the proper ratio of each scent in our mixture. After discussing our base notes' scent rankings, I added my picks to the test tube.
Next, we smelled the heart and top notes and picked our favorites.
Dubois provided coffee beans to "cleanse our palate" and prepare us for the next batch. For the heart notes, which last on the body for 20 minutes to an hour, according to Dubois, I went with jasmine, honeysuckle, and coffee. I loved the mixture of the sweet honeysuckle and the bitter coffee notes.
I moved on to the top notes, which last anywhere from five to 15 minutes, according to Dubois. At this point, I felt more confident about selecting fragrances. Floral scents like lavender were too earthy for my taste, while carnations were too subtle for me to enjoy. I chose black tea, peach, and bergamot for my top notes.
After selecting the scents for our perfumes, we began the mixing process.
Dubois taught us how to properly mix the scents in our test tube with a wrist-swirling motion. Afterward, I took a strip of paper to smell what I made. He directed us to wave it in front of our noses rather than smell the strip directly.
I loved certain aspects of my perfume, like the contrast between the bitter coffee and the sweet peach, but something was off. Dubois agreed and helped me "balance" the scent in the next round by removing the overpowering black tea top note.
Once we perfected our scent ratio, we added our recipe to the test tube again.
After Dubois and I altered my perfume to highlight the scents I wanted, I added the base, heart, and top notes to the test tube again. Now that our fragrances were ready, we transferred our concoction into a larger beaker.
The final step in the process required adding alcohol to our concoction. Dubois said the alcohol holds the scents together and keeps the oils fresh longer.
Once our 30ml perfume was bottled, we were all tasked with naming our unique, one-of-a-kind scent.
Though the naming process was creatively tricky, my fellow perfume makers and I brainstormed and helped inspire each other as Dubois printed our official labels. I went with "Nirvana" since I felt a sense of calm and peace while smelling my perfume.
I can confidently say I walked away with the smell of sweet success after completing the workshop.
Dubois wrapped our perfumes and suggested letting them "rest" for four weeks before wearing them. Much like a fine wine, Dubois told us that perfumes must age for extended periods so that the scents can settle.
He also gave us fun, informative tips on where to spray perfume. According to Dubois, spraying perfume on the back of your knees will allow your scent to linger as you walk past someone.
Overall, the two-hour class was an interactive, informative, and a creative way to express myself. As someone that has shied away from perfume my whole life, I feel much more confident wearing a scent that I made myself.
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