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Field trip: The Perfumer's Apprentice

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Last weekend I made a trip over the hill to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of downtown Santa Cruz, CA. Santa Cruz is best known for its boardwalk, surfing, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. The downtown area is appropriately youthful and bohemian with import stores on every block and street musicians on every corner. There are few cars on the streets; most people walk or skateboard to get around, so it's satisfying to take a deep breath and appreciate the spices of the various ethnic restaurants, coffee shop aromas, and the patchouli and incense wafting from the local head shop. Also the ... "What's that smell?" I asked at about the same moment Dear Husband pointed to a sign next to a flight of stairs that read, The Perfumer's Apprentice. "Do you want to go in?" he inquired.

I followed my nose up the stairs and walked into ... a birthday party! About a dozen 9 to 10 year old girls were sitting around a large wood table laden with lazy susans holding many dozens of vials. These future perfumistas were engaged in the chemistry of making their own bespoke fragrance-- adding a drop of this or that, sniffing and giggling and sharing their creations with one another. I was sooo jealous! Fellow BNers, let's make this us someday!

Store owner Linda Andrews was talking with me about her business and showing me her perfumery notes kit when it suddenly dawned on me that this was the kit Purplebird and others were using in the Note Identification Project. Of course! This place! I knew about this place! I just didn't know it was right here. I was so excited to be in her store, no doubt grinning like a fool in my enthusiasm to smell everything. But Linda loves her craft and happily indulged me. I took whiffs of violet and carnation (prompted by some recent BN threads), habanolide, ambroxan, galaxolide, ambergris, styrax, and deer musk and a zillion other things that I don't even remember. Next time I'll make notes! Linda also let me take a peek into her back room. To say that I was awestruck is an understatement. I can't imagine there is anything she doesn't have.

The Perfumer's Apprentice carries fragrances by Profumo and Michael Storer. Linda has also started her own line, and again I have to chastise myself for not making notes, but Shadow and another that began with an 'S' were very enticing. The commercial fragrances are displayed in bookcases on one side of the store, and row upon row of single note essences for sniffing and sampling line the other.

Unfortunately, my parking meter expired twice while I was there (DH returned to feed the meter and we fortunately avoided a ticket). I hope to return very soon with a clear idea as to what I'd like to sample, experiment, and make note of (lots and lots of notes!). Linda was very generous with her time even though she had one party in full swing and another due later that day. Her knowledge and passion are boundless! As is her modesty-- she insisted she's not a perfumer or a "nose" and that she is still fairly a novice at all this. She stated that she considers herself merely a "technician." Well, Serge Lutens once referred to Christopher Sheldrake as a "technicien," so I'd say Linda is in good company!


  1. Redneck Perfumisto's Avatar
    Oh. Oh. OH. OOOHHHH.....


    What an amazing collection of components. Yes - I was thinking to myself, "Wait a minute... That's that place I ordered from!" You are SO lucky, an_oud_girl! Looks like one more stop on my "someday" trip to the West coast. Thanks for the great preview - and especially for the pictures!
  2. Aiona's Avatar
    Wowwwww...... All those bottles!
  3. ubuandibeme's Avatar
    What a joyful suprise to happen upon this glorious shoppe! Thanks so much for sharing with us!
  4. Haunani's Avatar
    Great blog entry, Oud Girl! I'm planning a little trip to Monterey. I think I just might stop in Santa Cruz on the way!
  5. Sunnyfunny's Avatar
    I love it that little girls had a birthday party there! How adorable!
  6. woodenpalette's Avatar
    how does it smell in the store... probably overwhelming with the blending aromas
  7. Heartwood's Avatar
    It smelled like my samples box, which is one of my favorite aromas, woodenpalette. A wonderful mingling of various scents.

    The girls were adorable, Sunnyfunny. Linda told me later that her second party was a group of women who brought their own bottles of wine instead of cake. These ladies had at least as much fun as the girls!


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