Romance is In the Air: The Art of Naturally Empowered PerfumesJan 31, 2022 11:00AM ● By Suzie Agrillo
This Valentine’s Day, spice things up with a gift of the scents created by Miriam Vareldzis, Founder and Creative Director of Palette Naturals. A graduate of the University of Oregon School of Architecture, Vareldzis has parlayed her architectural acumen to the perfume industry. A relatively new Tucson resident, during her 30-year fragrance career, she has been intimately involved with fragrance development and natural perfumery, from deep within the fragrance industry in New York City to the west coast.
From my earliest memories, I have always had scent as my companion, compass and co-anchor. Scent was always part of my family. My mother had an excellent sense of smell, knowing what spices were needed by just smelling above the dish she was making. And my grandmothers and aunts were excellent cooks of our family Greek cuisine. But at the time, I had no idea there was even such a thing as a fragrance industry. I knew the scent of coriander seed in my grandmother’s baking.
How many years of experience do you have?
I’ve been in the perfumery/scent/olfactive side of my career for a total of 30 years, after six years in my previous architecture career. This includes time within fragrance houses (IFF, Agilex/now Firmenich and Robertet), launching my own companies (40notes Perfume and Palette Naturals), as well as my very first job in this industry in NYC with a company on the brand side called Gryphon Development, where I got my start in product and scent development and met those who would become my mentors and future employers.
Can you tell us a little bit about your education, training and experience in the perfume industry? Who were your mentors?
My degree is in Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon—a five-year program that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I would recommend a design education for everyone who feels a connection with not only design, but creative thought, bringing ideas to fruition, holding both complex details and abstract concepts in mind at once. Everything required for perfumery. The basis for Palette Naturals is the building blocks of natural perfumery, inspired by my architecture education.
What is ISO 9235? Why did you gravitate toward natural perfumes?
ISO 9235 is the ISO-standard (International Standards Organization based in Geneva, Switzerland) who gives the official definition for “aromatic natural raw materials” for use in perfumery. The Palette Naturals Collection was created in strict compliance with the ISO 9235 definition of natural raw materials, thus paving the way for any brand user to claim an “all-natural” scent formulation when using these accords.
How would you describe what inspires you to create a new perfume?
I am inspired by an actual raw material, the inherent beauty of a single raw material and the perfume of its own nature, which I refer to as Mother Nature’s formula. From there, I can be excited to pair that with other notes, creating a harmony as in music, or a sketch as in design, and explore where that takes me.
Have you received any awards and/or other accolades for your perfumes?
Yes. When the original 40notes perfume limited edition collection launched in 2010, and for the next couple of years, we gratefully accepted gold, silver and bronze awards for Aroma, Packaging, All Around Product Line, Top Artisan Perfumer, Best Gift Set and Best New Product from the Artisan Fragrance Salon Awards hosted by Taste TV, in San Francisco. It was a fantastic start to the limited edition run of the 40notes Perfume Luxury Perfume Collection.
What was the genesis of 40notes perfume?
After several years within the fragrance industry in NYC and the west coast, and oddly just after 9/11, there were several changes in my personal and professional life. One of them was my upcoming 40th birthday in 2002. The desire to create and formulate my own perfume collection somehow took hold in that year. From that perspective and desire, the name “40notes” floated around me until it landed and became 40notes Perfume (now sold out).
Where can people purchase the Accords kits?
The Palette Naturals Accords sample kits are available for purchase on the website, PaletteNaturals.com, along with a multitude of both creative and technical information about how to use the perfumery blending accords.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the beginning, amateur perfumer?
Perfumery is a life-long immersion, a holographic art, as I imagine it. Scent captures our memories, feelings, thoughts, preferences and tastes. It also accesses the limbic system, the part of the brain that is the home of our memories and emotions, bypassing speech. It is a study of both the right and left brain, meaning it won’t happen fast and it’s an ongoing pursuit. You will fall down the proverbial rabbit-hole and be a student your entire life. Practice patience, cultivate a love of smelling and observe how the materials unfold. Let the materials tell their story.
What do you deem to be the most challenging aspect of your business?
There is a difference between the art of perfumery and the business of perfumery. The business has the same challenges as any business: sales, marketing, inventory and profit margins. But for my own business, one major challenge is communication and education: educating our customers, who range from formulators, brand owners, indie perfumers, chemists and labs, as to how they can use the Accords in their creations. Palette Naturals is an indie fragrance house, supplying the building blocks of natural perfumery. I just happen to have the idea and I am now in my fifth year of bringing it to light.
How do you create calm in your own life?
My yoga practice is one of the constants in my life that helps me get and stay centered and creates calm. Hiking or walking are my favorite ways to let go of stress. Early morning quiet time has also been a way to get the day going with a calm start. At the center of it all is breathing. I love arranging flowers; quite accidentally, I’m always in a calmer, happier place.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
I have always been inspired by two quotes in my life: The first is: “Actions speak louder than words.” This quote inspires me to get the ideas out of my head, or notebook, and to start bringing them to life. Often easier said than done, this sets the path for an adventurous life.
Connect with Miriam Vareldzis at 503-860-3112, [email protected] or PaletteNaturals.com.