First off: WOW.
I wasn't expecting that sort of initial reaction at ALL.
Second: THANK YOU. Thank you so, so much.
The good news is all orders (so far) will be out the door by Wednesday. (I am literally waiting for paint to dry on most bottles / sample vials.)
There is no bad news. I am deeply humbled by this show of support.
And since I promised transparency in practice, let's get to that now. [At the end of this entry], you'll find a list of reviewers, bloggers and other active members of the community who I respect and appreciate, and who will be receiving free sample sets of finalized formulas.. These are people I've contacted prior to yesterday, and who have ZERO pressure from me to mention Chronotope in exchange for the free product; if they do, it's all them. Additionally, they know that I ask for nothing but honesty if they decide to mention one or more of my products. That is: they have an open invitation to critique my work as well as give it a thumbs up (but again—only if they want to.)
I'm taking this approach because there is something precious and full of power in this community of people who, for whatever their unique reasons, at one point or another looked beyond their immediate circumstances to find others who care about this craft so they could talk about it. Perfume can be an incredibly unifying technology.
But perfume can also be used to breed division and create false hierarchies by agents who seek not to erase borders but instead make them bolder, stronger, more militarized. Perfume can also be used to limit access and reinforce divisions based on class. I want nothing to do with that. I want to engage in dismantling that and help build a perfumery and scent culture that is accessible for all who want it. There can only be so little coincidence that we know next to nothing about olfaction compared to the other senses AND that we more or less ignore scent on the level of culture. (It's a direct connection.)
And perfumery, the practice of crafting scent, is an element of cultural production. As such, it should be representative, not wholly exclusive. Yet far too often, independent would-be creators are cut off from being able to access materials and education, and then are even pressured to exchange their perfumes for free in order to receive press attention. On the micro level, the latter may not appear to be a problematic industry practice. On the macro level, it creates an imbalanced system: only those who can afford to give their product away for free might have a chance at building a successful brand. And it renders the subsequent reviews to be little more than advertorials. All in all, it's a practice that limits access.
I have to wonder, how much more vibrant could this craft be if access wasn't so limited? How much more might we engage with scent on the cultural level if people weren't so shut out? And how much longer will the "authority" outlets demand that the costs of their operations be at the expense of creators—not all of whom are able to give away free product?
I'm privileged enough that I can; I built my launch budget with this in mind, even. And since I claim the power of that privilege it's only right that I use that power for good. So here's the list of recipients. They have been invited to do more than blow smoke up my (and everyone else's) ass. And I hope that by being clear about this, by inviting critique, I can use Chronotope as an example for how to build a way forward to a more accessible, rigorous, caring and polyphonic perfume industry. Because everyone has stories to tell. And perfume is capable of expressing narratives that directly engage wearers on such a physical and intimate level that those stories demand immediate, physical response. It's in that visceral, sometimes intense, response that perfume reveals its connective and unifying potential.
We retain the right to that potential only as long as we protect it.
@nickrgilbert & team @olfictionlimited