'Creating Perfume' supplier...and why I miss Susan

sibie

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 7, 2017
As with many, I have purchased from Creating Perfume, run by Susan Lemmon, for many years. And like most of us 'non-professionals,' I generally buy from various suppliers. CP was among the top. If you could not find something at Perfumer's Apprentice, CP had it, or vice-versa. And Perfumer Supply House was even more specialized, especially in terms of hard-to-find or special orders. Then along came PCW, in France. We all moved along quite nicely.

Then, in what seemed like a bit of a shock to many, Susan sold her business. And the transition happened, which was messy mostly because none of us really knew what was happening, and the new owners really did not bother letting anyone know until things got a bit ugly. Since then, the transition seems to continue. Many materials are either no longer offered, or have not been moved from the previous site (as I was told a few times) and now, the shocker, they require a wholesale account for many important materials. Ironically, the whole point of small suppliers is that you do NOT have to be a business to buy from them. So, it feels a little bit like a slap in the face. This may or may not be the ultimate goal, but for now, some materials seem limited to wholesale. I do not run perfumery as a business, but this is by personal choice. I have worked with Aromatherapy since 1992, and fully with perfumery since 2015. However, by profession, I am a musician. I run a business in the music industry for nearly 20 years and that was enough to kill any joy I initially felt in composing and working with music. I do not want the same to happen with perfumery, so I purposely chose NOT to run a perfume business. But this does not mean that I am not serious about perfumery. Quite the opposite. So, this move by Creating Perfume seems a bit like a dismissal.

I already expressed all of this to CP. So, why this post? Mainly to see if others have experienced similar issues and frustrations with CP. There was another thread happening right after Susan sold CP, and it was messy. I looked and now cannot find that thread. So I wondered, since then, what have others experienced and how they moved on. Personally, I find PCW to fill in the gaps quite well, if costly ($80 shipping means a large order to compensate). And to say...I MISS SUSAN!
 
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pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
I just spoke with Aurora, she says that you do not need a wholesale account to buy from CP.
 

Citroasis

Super Member
Jul 24, 2021
I think for CP's Wholesale account, it just gives you access to better pricing for 1kg purchases without having to go through Vigon and the such. However i didnt sign up for it, so im just speculating....
 

sibie

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 7, 2017
I spoke with CP today. It is basically messy right now. You do need a wholesale account for some items (apparently only for now), but can also buy everything retail...or at least will be able to once items in lower quantities are made available. Many items are not listed yet, or not listed in non-wholesale amounts, but will be available as non-wholesale. Right now, if you need to order stuff you more likely have to reach out with a list and see what they have, what they do not have, and what they will eventually have. Of course, if we know nothing of this, when you find a material you need and the notice says "Only for wholes customers," it makes one pause....

In their words:

If you can't find a certain material on the retail website (but you can find it on the wholesale), it is: 1. Most likely not uploaded yet (and we might have it in stock); 2.Completely out of stock, and we are waiting to get the new stock to upload it

What is certain is that a lot of the confusion stems from the transition to new business owners and a new website. Although this transition has been going on for quite a time now and I expected some dust to have settled. I am sure Covid did not help matters much. Initially, when Susan sold the business and none of us even knew about it and found out the hard way, much of the mess happened due to lack of transparency and communication. I am a firm believer that if customers know what you're doing, they are more likely to ride the wave with you. If they have no clue what is happening and find a mess at their feet, they won't walk on it, they'll walk around it. Lack of communication seems to still be going on, making issues worse. It actually took my reaching out to them to express my frustrations for them to fill me in on a lot of what they're doing. Imagine how easier it would be if there was a notice page on the website explaining all this. Hmmm..maybe I will suggest it.

As usual, most of us are always encouraging of our suppliers, feel the relationship goes beyond business, and are always willing to be supportive. I just like to know what I am dealing with.
 

Mando

Basenotes Member
Mar 10, 2020
I am a hobby perfumer (for my own enjoyment) not in it for the money and I sincerely miss the old CP. They used to be great and for all the reasons Sibie mentioned. If Perfumers Apprentice didn‘t have it then CP would or may have it, etc...
I’ve purchased from CP recently and feel depressed about the lack of variety now but it is what it is.
I wished Pell Well was in the U.S. because they have a great selection of material but the international shipping costs give me pause.

With all that said, I am very grateful that Perfumer’s Apprentice is amazing and super fast with shipping and prices on things. Just like Perfumer Supply House is the same for me as well.

I wished there was another great site like PA and PSH to buy from for us not wanting to buy 1 ton of PEA 🤣
 

sibie

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 7, 2017
I am a hobby perfumer (for my own enjoyment) not in it for the money and I sincerely miss the old CP. They used to be great and for all the reasons Sibie mentioned. If Perfumers Apprentice didn‘t have it then CP would or may have it, etc...
I’ve purchased from CP recently and feel depressed about the lack of variety now but it is what it is.
I wished Pell Well was in the U.S. because they have a great selection of material but the international shipping costs give me pause.

With all that said, I am very grateful that Perfumer’s Apprentice is amazing and super fast with shipping and prices on things. Just like Perfumer Supply House is the same for me as well.

I wished there was another great site like PA and PSH to buy from for us not wanting to buy 1 ton of PEA 🤣
I hear you! While not in the USA, PCW is another great place to buy, and usually has much of what the other ones will not. Shipping to the USA is $80, so you need to make it worth the purchase and have a nice list ready (and the Euro right now is at par with the US dollar). But they are great and ship fast (DHL delivery is another story...) I am hoping at some point CP will get back somewhat to what it was, though by the looks of it it will not be 100% back to what Susan had built. I am not confident CP will get back all those materials, and after my e-mail exchange today, it does not look like it. But they may at least get close.
 

Jolieo

Basenotes Dependent
Feb 18, 2018
I had ordered from Susan and Aurora took over the order, during covid, during the move - and I wasn’t informed about any of ( except covid)
i wasn’t calm , at all- I figured out everything from the thread that’s missing that you mentioned -
I get it , sort of- but I lost trust
Because this is my hobby, my release, go to- , lack of trust can spoil the deal- I want the excitement of new materials- and I want to trust that what the vendor tells me is true-
I trust psh and pa , I would order from Harry but I am a bit intimidated, working up to it,
I love hermitage even though some of their stuff doesn’t match their exuberance, most of it exceeds-
eden botanicals is my first love, and is perfect, liberty naturals is a wonderful Pandora’s box-
but I still have a sour taste , and pricing and shipping jump around at cp - I just don’t find it exciting
 

-db-

Super Member
Jun 3, 2011
I wish things had gone better for Alora Dillon in the transition. I wish much of the CP inventory (which was in California) was not caught up in CA wildfires and lost or damaged. I wish Susan had taken some responsibility in communicating the pending changes to customers, rather than just selling the company and bugging off to retire in NM. You must admit, Susan disappearing without such communication was pretty disrespectfu to the population of customers. I wish Alora had exercised better judgement in arranging the new website; it is not suited to buyers other than the most amateur. Alora is a nice person and will run a great company if she survives all this.
 

mnitabach

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2020
As wonderful as these small suppliers can be, when they are operated as "labors of love" by sole proprietors with few or no employees, it is unrealistic to expect corporate-style succession planning in the event that the proprietor sells, dies, retires, etc. If you want the comfort of realistically expecting that kind of continuity, you need to buy from a larger more-organized company. The only retail seller to hobbyists that gives the strong impression to me that they are not reliant on the continued efforts of a single individual is PCW in France. Perfumer's Apprentice maaybe is somewhat in this direction. The rest I suspect are wholly reliant on single individuals.
 

sibie

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 7, 2017
As wonderful as these small suppliers can be, when they are operated as "labors of love" by sole proprietors with few or no employees, it is unrealistic to expect corporate-style succession planning in the event that the proprietor sells, dies, retires, etc. If you want the comfort of realistically expecting that kind of continuity, you need to buy from a larger more-organized company. The only retail seller to hobbyists that gives the strong impression to me that they are not reliant on the continued efforts of a single individual is PCW in France. Perfumer's Apprentice maaybe is somewhat in this direction. The rest I suspect are wholly reliant on single individuals.
I agree with you to a point. You can indeed run a business professionally and make sure someone can carry on in case you quit...or drop dead. You do not have to be a huge company to do that. But I agree with your 'labor of love' comment. If people do not realize that they are first and foremost a business, then it becomes a mess. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I run a business myself for nearly 20 years, in the music industry. I was also the artist. So, I had to combine 'feelings' with 'business' (not easy), but apparently did so successfully as to reach all the way to a Grammy nomination -- about 0.1% of musicians reach this level. If you consider I was also in competition with majors like Universal, at some point I started playing with the big boys and it was not a picnic. One day I found myself in a room with surrounded by all multi-platinum veteran artists (I joked that all of us in that room had a wikipedia presence), while I managed guest artists, recording engineers, studio work, publicists, promoters, photographers, stylists, designers, album replication, distributors...and that was just the basics. However, the reason it worked out was because I knew from the get go that this was a business. It was not all a 'labor of love.' And at some point many people depended on my output. My composing more albums became a matter of other people's livelihood (no pressure there). And I made quite sure my rights and management can be handled by someone else should I croak. It means realizing that my business is not just about 'me.' I still remained a relatively small company and did not sell out to a major (not yet, anyway).

So, I totally agree with you that any company run solely as a 'labor of love,' is most likely not going to survive and at some point the customer will be left out to dry. For individual perfumers who do this without running a business, sadly we cannot buy from a larger supplier and can often be dependent on 'labor of love' companies. You're lucky if Vigon even acknowledges your request! Terrible business practice. In music, I've dealt with companies five times larger than they are, and yet been treated a heck of a lot better. But, after my description of what it was like for me to run my business, you may imagine running a perfumery business is the last thing I would ever want to do. I have been there and done it. So, like many here, I depend on smaller suppliers who, hopefully, run their business as I did mine. But that is not always the case (as Jolieo described in the post above) and we must make allowances. On the other hand, when the allowances we make are too many, one begins to question who we are loyal to as a customer.

Anyway, sorry for my little dissertation, but all that to say that yes, you can run a professional small business with backups to make sure your customers do not get penalized by one's bad planning. Aside from PCW and PA, I do have to add that Christine, of Perfumer Supply House, has always been very good at handling her business, albeit she zeroes in more towards specific ingredients while PA is broader, and PCW even more so. But PSH may be as you described, a company dependent on one individual. I cannot attest to that, though.
 

mnitabach

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2020
I agree with you to a point. You can indeed run a business professionally and make sure someone can carry on in case you quit...or drop dead. You do not have to be a huge company to do that. But I agree with your 'labor of love' comment. If people do not realize that they are first and foremost a business, then it becomes a mess. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I run a business myself for nearly 20 years, in the music industry. I was also the artist. So, I had to combine 'feelings' with 'business' (not easy), but apparently did so successfully as to reach all the way to a Grammy nomination -- about 0.1% of musicians reach this level. If you consider I was also in competition with majors like Universal, at some point I started playing with the big boys and it was not a picnic. One day I found myself in a room with surrounded by all multi-platinum veteran artists (I joked that all of us in that room had a wikipedia presence), while I managed guest artists, recording engineers, studio work, publicists, promoters, photographers, stylists, designers, album replication, distributors...and that was just the basics. However, the reason it worked out was because I knew from the get go that this was a business. It was not all a 'labor of love.' And at some point many people depended on my output. My composing more albums became a matter of other people's livelihood (no pressure there). And I made quite sure my rights and management can be handled by someone else should I croak. It means realizing that my business is not just about 'me.' I still remained a relatively small company and did not sell out to a major (not yet, anyway).

So, I totally agree with you that any company run solely as a 'labor of love,' is most likely not going to survive and at some point the customer will be left out to dry. For individual perfumers who do this without running a business, sadly we cannot buy from a larger supplier and can often be dependent on 'labor of love' companies. You're lucky if Vigon even acknowledges your request! Terrible business practice. In music, I've dealt with companies five times larger than they are, and yet been treated a heck of a lot better. But, after my description of what it was like for me to run my business, you may imagine running a perfumery business is the last thing I would ever want to do. I have been there and done it. So, like many here, I depend on smaller suppliers who, hopefully, run their business as I did mine. But that is not always the case (as Jolieo described in the post above) and we must make allowances. On the other hand, when the allowances we make are too many, one begins to question who we are loyal to as a customer.

Anyway, sorry for my little dissertation, but all that to say that yes, you can run a professional small business with backups to make sure your customers do not get penalized by one's bad planning. Aside from PCW and PA, I do have to add that Christine, of Perfumer Supply House, has always been very good at handling her business, albeit she zeroes in more towards specific ingredients while PA is broader, and PCW even more so. But PSH may be as you described, a company dependent on one individual. I cannot attest to that, though.
I love Christine & PSH!!! Best that I can tell, the company is solely her...
 

sibie

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 7, 2017
I wish things had gone better for Alora Dillon in the transition. I wish much of the CP inventory (which was in California) was not caught up in CA wildfires and lost or damaged. I wish Susan had taken some responsibility in communicating the pending changes to customers, rather than just selling the company and bugging off to retire in NM. You must admit, Susan disappearing without such communication was pretty disrespectfu to the population of customers. I wish Alora had exercised better judgement in arranging the new website; it is not suited to buyers other than the most amateur. Alora is a nice person and will run a great company if she survives all this.
The original story was that Susan was not well. I really have no clue what happened, but if that was the case it may explain why she passed on the business and seemingly 'disappeared.' Of course, wildfires and Covid happened as well. I live on the West Coast and we had all their smoke up here! According to the new people ('Dusan' in this case), Susan is still involved as a consultant. I just suggested to them that they have a page on their site explaining to customers that they are indeed still transitioning (who knew this was still going on?!) and how it is going. Above all, what to expect. Failure to communicate with customers seems to still be a problem with them, something that should have become obvious (and resolved) early on when many were complaining they had no idea what was happening with their purchases. It does not take a company of 50 people to communicate with customers via a website page. Just one person can handle it.

Let me just say that the fact that I had to start this thread because still none of us know what is going on with them, says it all....

One issue I brought up to them was their old accords. Personally, I do not use other companies' accords exactly for this reason. I do not want to be left hanging. I will use bases, like Sampquita, by larger perfume houses like Givaudan (even that is not always full-proof), but smaller companies tend to suddenly discontinue the accords or flat out go out of business, leaving you hanging. I like more control over my formulas. However, early on I did the mistake of using one accord they used to sell (Fresh White Floral). All Susan's accords are gone now. Dusan said they may bring some back, albeit reformulated for IFRA (I told them I was not interested in IFRA reformulations), but that some will be flat out discontinued. I suggested maybe sharing the discontinued formulas with old customers as a courtesy (I knew I was treading in dangerous territory here), and of course they said they can't do that. Personally, if I will never use that formula again and have left customers hanging, I'd do it. In fact, there used to be big Aromatherapy company by the name of Aroma Vera, back in the 90's, which eventually closed shop. They used to sell synergies, which I used. The head of the company, a well known Aromatherapist at the time by the name of Marcel Lavabre, actually shared with me the formula for one of his synergies, which was now discontinued. He did not have to. But I do respect a company not sharing a discontinued formula. After 8 years of working with perfumery, I a familiar enough with White Florals as to try and replicate this accord, but if ever needed confirmation that I do not need to use someone else's accord, this was it.....
 

pkiler

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 5, 2007
She is indeed wonderful! I think you're right it may be just her.
Alora called to chat with me today, she has four people at CP, including herself.
She says she is working 12-14 hour days, seven days a week, to bring CP back.
She also said that the wholesale portal is separate from CP regular, and the wholesale portal is primarily for 1kg and above sales.
And that not everything yet on the wholesale portal is available on Regular, due to MOQ issues.

She says that they have watched sales for the past two years, and noted what sells and doesn't, and they are making sure that popular items stay in stock for small qty sales.
 

sibie

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 7, 2017
Alora called to chat with me today, she has four people at CP, including herself.
She says she is working 12-14 hour days, seven days a week, to bring CP back.
She also said that the wholesale portal is separate from CP regular, and the wholesale portal is primarily for 1kg and above sales.
And that not everything yet on the wholesale portal is available on Regular, due to MOQ issues.

She says that they have watched sales for the past two years, and noted what sells and doesn't, and they are making sure that popular items stay in stock for small qty sales.
Yeah, they said the same thing to me yesterday, and I quoted some of it in this thread. This is more so why I think a page on their site letting customers know what is going on might ease things for everyone, especially for them. I suggested it to them yesterday. It seems you and I have become their middle-men in communication, which really should not be the case. Customers can't be finding out what is happening with them via a thread on Basenotes...which ironically is what I was trying to do! Frankly, if they were really swamped and not fully on their feet, branching into wholesale may have been a bit premature, especially if at the expense of their retail customers.

As for watching what sells and what does not, I am not sure they can form an objective opinion when many of us have gone elsewhere for stuff we used to buy from CP. I have e-mailed CP several times asking for this or that material, and the response is often: we're out, we may have it later. So, they might decide some materials are not selling, but this may only be because we're getting them elsewhere. A better idea might be gleamed by looking at what Susan sold most of, and then try and replenish that first to retain as many old customers as possible. I fear they might not have done that.

In any case, my entire reason for creating this thread is not to diminish a company (obviously), but to find out what was going on and if others had had experiences or news I had not. As I stated somewhere in this thread, all of us want our suppliers to succeed and we support them fully. But in the end, we're also customers and at the very least would like to know what is happening and where we stand...especially when formulas depend on the availability of product. Obviously, you personally have access to companies like Vigon, more reliable and dependable in what they offer, so some of this is less a problem for you...but then, of course you have more at stake, running your own company.

On a side, personal note, I always saw a lot of similarities in your running your company in the perfumery industry and mine in the music industry...same stakes, same creative pressures, same politics and same competition. You have my full admiration!
 
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perfumer86

Basenotes Member
Feb 16, 2020
well what i heard was that the old CP was breaking even, bussiness people know what that means. as every bussiness goal as a part of success is to gain more than you invest in the long run. which apparently was not happening. the new CP has cheap prices for some good products though. its like alot of commercial perfumes, the compound costs 5 bucks and you sell the perfume for 80. paying for the brand and image and perfumers work thats bussiness.
 

Citroasis

Super Member
Jul 24, 2021
The biggest reason why I stopped buying from CP, is because they quadrupled (4x) in shipping costs. Just a single 30ml bottle would cost me $24 for shipping!? Lol.....no thanks
 

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perfumum

Super Member
Jun 28, 2016
The biggest reason why I stopped buying from CP, is because they quadrupled (4x) in shipping costs. Just a single 30ml bottle would cost me $24 for shipping!? Lol.....no thanks
That's quite something and totally unjustifiable imo. Costs less than that to ship from across the pond...
 

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