Up in Hector, on the eastern side of Seneca Lake, lies a new experience that I’m extremely excited the Finger Lakes has the honor of having. NOTE Fragrances, a boutique perfumery and custom scent studio has moved into the area, and it’s probably one of the coolest, most unique things I’ve ever done around here.
Danielle Fleming, NOTE’s founder, got into the scent business after studying psychology, and becoming extremely interested in the effect that fragrance has on the mind and body. After years of success with her first brand with this idea in mind, she decided to launch NOTE Fragrances, with the focus on connecting people to the power of scent. At her first location in Scranton, PA, and this new location in the Finger Lakes, she does just that. It’s already had acclaimed success, being a Martha Stewart American Made Finalist, and was the only fragrance featured in the 2014 Emmy Awards celebrity gift bags. At the boutique, not only can you browse their collection of signature scents, but you can create your very own – based on your scent preferences and how you want to feel when you wear it. I went up to check it out and make my own scent with Danielle herself, and it was so much fun.
When you walk in the door, you’re greeted by a large, light space that just welcomes you to come in and be creative. There’s a counter and some small tables and chairs throughout the room. The first thing we did was go to the counter and Danielle walked us through some basics in the science of perfume-making, which was actually pretty interesting. I never knew most of that stuff. We learned what scents complement each other and what don’t on a scent wheel – much like the color wheel. Next, we were invited to sniff all of their signature scents, if we wanted. Of course we did! They were scrumptious, the best perfumes I have ever smelled in my life. They smelled so real – no chemicals. Their products are paraben, dye, and petrochemical-free and a large number of their scent notes are made of botanicals and essential oils.
Next was the fun part; sitting down and creating our own perfumes! We needed to have at least one top note, middle note, and base note incorporated into our scents, but we could have up to seven. What this means is that from the moment you spray it on, to a little bit later, to the end of the day, the scent will evolve as each note of fragrance is revealed. Each little bottle was arranged on a little stand with different levels, called a scent organ. The top notes were on top, middle in the middle, and base on the bottom. They were also labeled to make it super easy to know what they were and which note they were.
When making perfume, you want to think about the scent family(ies) you want to stick to, and start from there. When we found scents we liked, we dipped the paper sticks into the scent and stuck them into a little clip and waved it under our nose. Then you just add from there. Clip more in, and sniff. If anything feels off with a scent you’ve just added, you can take it out. Once we started that process, it was a matter of seeing what we liked and adding or subtracting scents until we found a combo that we liked. Mine ended up being a bit more earthy, with notes of amber, driftwood, and a fresh scent called ocean. I actually ended up using seven notes, and I am in love with how it turned out. It’s the tiniest bit fruity from small notes of peach and orange, but with the earthy, fresh scent that I’ve always loved. My friend that joined me made a scent inspired by a cruise, with sweet fruity notes as well as tropical flowers and a hint of coconut. It turned out perfectly! Danielle then took our scent-filled clips, and worked her magic mixing our perfume behind the counter.
While she did that, we browsed. Not only does NOTE sell perfume, but other products of their own, and things from other local businesses as well. There were things like honey, tote bags, and gummy candy. NOTE Fragrances also makes their own body butter, lip balm, and candles, and they were SO good.
I can’t speak highly enough of NOTE Fragrances, and I think it’s the perfect addition to the shores of the Finger Lakes. Danielle told me that one of the reasons she decided to choose the Finger Lakes as their second location was because of the sensory experience already in place here with the wine trails. People are visiting this area as a tourist destination largely because they want to have a fun time trying all of our wines, and a boutique perfumery fits in perfectly with that experience. Taste and smell are so closely connected, and I think that visitors and locals alike are really going to connect well to this concept.
If you’re a fragrance lover and live here in the Finger Lakes, or are even just visiting somewhere close-by, you need to make NOTE Fragrances a destination. Not only is the experience like no other, but it’s fun, creative, and you’ll walk away with a perfume you can feel good about that smells authentic. Whether you make your own or try one of theirs, I can guarantee you’ll walk out the door impressed. I sure was.
Visit NOTE Fragrances at notefragrances.com.
Disclaimer: I was given my experience and perfume complimentary in exchange for this article. All thoughts and opinions are my own.