Laurie Stern’s association to perfumery comes from her previous fifteen years as a wedding florist which began on a whim. “The many years I spent as a wedding florist was a great segway to open a new chapter in my life within the natural perfume industry.” Stern states, as she reaches towards an array of fragrances that are attractively displayed on a silver tray. From the enriched sewing lessons from her beloved grandmother, Stern hand picks each scent that she formulates for her fragrance collection, Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery.
Located in the east bay foothills of El Cerrito, with expansive scenic views of San Francisco and Marin County anchored by the Golden Gate Bridge. Stern’s quaint boutique is set in a garden venue attractively decorated using lace overlay and scented Victorian trade cards which captures ones imagination, and goes with each of her perfumes. With a website that is designed as an educational resource it exhibits key principles for those in search of a botanical fragrance. With a Leaping Bunny Certification which certifies that a company or brand does not do animal testing or the purchasing of materials that sell civet or castoreum. “I take what I do further with my love for animals in mind, as I combine my art with animal protection,” Stern states.
Stern accompanies me through her uniquely terraced garden while we begin to converse over herbal tea amongst exquisite blooms. We discuss the power that fragrance carries in society alongside an office environment. With formulas that accompany beeswax, rose petals and jasmine, how does one take such a scent to the office? The question that comes to mind when applying a fragrance is being aware of the surroundings before it’s applied, along with the relevant dosage and ingredients and how it may affect the ones around you. For many women perfume has become routine as it possess the ability to change ones mood, while for others it is defined as a timeless accessory.It’s hard to believe that something as innocent as a perfume could cause grief to others which you perform daily duties with. In many cases a negative reaction is caused by over applying a robust fragrance which is better known by Stern as a “sillage”. This sillage, is also known as a cloud which in fact can irritate those nearby creating a problematic situation with their properties of synthetic chemicals. “I can understand that many people can’t take strong scents in the workplace. Most commercial perfumes radiate a “sillage”, which can be over whelming. Sillage comes from the French word for ‘wake”, as in the trail left by an airplane.” Stern explains. In past years an average of 80%-90% of fragrances has been synthesized from petroleum, acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate and limonene. The chemicals in these commercial fragrances can initiate a sensitizing process within one’s immune system invading one’s personal space.
As for an organic less adverse approach, natural fragrances are worn close to the body being seen as a personal and intimate experience as Stern states, “Natural perfumes are smelled when you hug someone or are close. I love to smell my perfumes on my wrist all day for a burst of aromatheraputic scent too.” Stern collects many ingredients from her own Perfumer’s Garden, utilizing many different compounds which become part of a larger collection of ingredients. She blends each of her beautiful scents with organic grape alcohol and jojoba bases, and refuses to use synthetics or harsh chemicals such as phthalates, giving one a safe alternative to the commercial side of fragrances. Glancing out towards the scenic distance the Golden Gate Bridge anchors the view as Stern takes a deep sigh before speaking, “Naturals age beautiful, it’s an evolution,” pausing for a moment she smiles as she continues, “all the accords or should I say fragrances I have created have a sole purpose or story attached to their conception, of my personal life’s journey.”
Begin your perfumery adventure with Stern over a cup of tea as she unlocks the mysteries of your heart and soul within a custom perfume adventure. “A Scent can enhance our well-being, rejuvenate our spirits and even intoxicate us.”