Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scents and Sensibility

A potential customer emailed me this morning asking about the scent of my soaps and needing more description before she could choose. That's the downside of selling online...the sniff test is important. The only issue with smell is that it's so subjective. I don't know how many times I've had two people (husband/wife, mother/daughter, BFFs) walk up to my booth at a fair where one picks up a soap, smells it and swoons in delight, then hands it to the other person to sniff and gets a rodent-like expression in return. People's opinions about smell differ widely. For this reason, I have hesitated to include too much of a scent description with each of my soaps. I don't want people to get them in the mail and say "Hey! That's not what it's supposed to smell like!" However, I completely understand this customer's need to, here's MY opinion of what each of my soaps smells like:

Backwoods~strong pine overtones with a lighter, fresh citrus underneath.

Bitchin" Kitchen~spicy cinnamon leaf. This is different than cinnamon stick, which most people are familiar with. Often customers think that it smells more like nutmeg than cinnamon.

Buck Naked~completely, truly unscented.

Cowpoke~fresh herbal with a little woodsy thrown in. The eucalyptus lemon and the lemon essential oils are the most dominant scent, but there's a noticeable undertone of cedarwood as well.

Fish Tale~anise, spicy black licorice. I've also added tea tree to this soap because it tones down and rounds out the smell of the anise, but it's got a very dominant black licorice smell.

Gardeners Gold~fresh citrus with floral undertones. You quickly notice the grapefruit smell in this soap, but the overall smell is really more fresh floral. Lavender and geranium are not very sweet flowers (like rose or jasmine), so I would put it in a more herbal/fresh category of floral.

Gender Neutral~sweet with spicy undertones. This soap smells like root beer. The dominant scent is vanilla, but the sweet birch essential oil (which is like wintergreen) adds a distinctive spice.

Hard Working Hand~ fresh and slightly herbal spiciness. This one's a little hard to categorize. It's not a heavy scent at all...mostly fresh and light herbal.

Haute Goat~unscented, but the goat's milk has a natural sweetness to it that comes through in the soap. Someone with a good sense of smell would notice it, but others might not. If you put it right next to the Buck Naked, you could definitely smell the sweetness.

Highland Fling~sweet like brown sugar, but not in a cloying way. The honey gets a bit caramelized during the soapmaking process, and combines with the natural sweetness of the beeswax. Love it.

Lap of Luxury~minty with citrus undertones. The dominant smell is spearmint, which is a more sweet herbal scent than peppermint. Tangerine lightens the mint smell and gives it more depth.

Lavender Lover~straight-up, high quality lavender essential oil. Good stuff.

Manly Man~musky and smokey with fresh citrus undertones. This is probably the hardest one to describe. Clary sage has a very herbal smell and vetiver is quite smokey on its own. I add lime to lighten and give complexity to both of those oils. Many people who smell this soap say that it reminds them of their grandfather or some older gentleman. Clary sage and vetiver were both commonly used in men's products a couple generations ago.

Naughty Nellie~floral, with herbal undertones. This has a sweet, slightly herbal floral smell, with some extra hoppiness from the ale that the soap is made with.

Rejuvenation~heavy, sweet floral. I would call this one almost Victorian in its smell. Very girlie.

Road Trip~patchouli, but lighter...not the heavy hippie smell often associated with that essential oil. I add orange to soften the sometimes overwhelming scent of patchouli. Often customers will smell this soap and say "I usually don't like patchouli, but this is really nice!"

Sasquatch~ woodsy and herbal. Cedarwood and tea tree are both very distinctive person described them as smelling like shoe polish. The lemon essential oil lightens and freshens the scent. This soap always makes me think of mossy bark, and being in the forest.

Smooth Shave~ fresh with herbal undertones. Coriander and cilantro are the same plant. Think of cilantro salad with a citrus dressing.

Summer Slacker~ sage and lavender with a fresh kick of light citrus. This soap has a dominant herbal smell. If you like sage, you'll love this. It reminds me of summer...hence the name.

Hope that helps!!


Judith said...

Having sniffed these soaps a lot, I'd say those are spot-on descriptions.

I sure agree that scent is amazingly subjective, W-A-Y more so than vision, hearing or touch. There's one (and only one) Seattle Sundries soap that I must admit I myself have a distinct aversion to, but again and again it leaves your craft fair customers gathered around the sample soaps raving and reaching for their wallets -- so I won't name it and stigmatize it here :-).

I'd take slight issue with Bitchin' Kitchen, one of my favorites, which to me smells a bit more like cloves or allspice -- it's just a great scent in its own right, and doubly so when you're trying to get rid of garlic-on-the-hands syndrome.

Finally, you forgot to note one thing almost everyone who smells Lap of Luxury agrees it smells like: pure heaven! My nose doesn't really "read" it as mint...but then, who wants an analytical nose when you can just revel in pure pleasure?

Courtney said...

Anne - my husband smells wonderful this week thanks to you!! Right now we are on Fish Tale, which is my husband's favorite. . .next we're moving to Rejuvenation, which is my favorite. He actually got after me for giving one of his favorites away to friends that were visiting. . . he likes to hoard your soap. :)

ASBloom said...

That's great Courtney!! I always love to hear that people are enjoying what I come up with!

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