Lots to cover here. This may be quite long so bear with me...
Originally Posted by zztopp
Since joining Basenotes, I have had a lot of fun and learned a lot about different fragrance design and style. I was wondering whether Basenotes.com currently rates as the largest, most popular fan site and/or fragrance resource site for fragrances or not ?
As Serpent quite rightly notes, MUA is the mother of all sites like this. It was once owned by Beauty.com, but now is independent. Their membership is much, much larger than Basenotes and wheras we get about 3 million page views a month they get a heck of a lot more.
We're about roughly equivalent Perfumeoflife. Sometimes they are bigger, sometimes we are.
With regards to fragrance information sites. I think we are the biggest both in terms of visitors and information available. I think the main competition to the directory comes from
Michael Edwards' / Fragrance Foundation's http://www.fragrancedirectory.info
Steph Burton's Javaslublu - http://www.javaslublu.com/jp/
Victor Lee's PerfumeWorld - http://www.perfumeworld.net/
Firmenich's Osmoz - http://www.osmoz.com
(which touts itself as "the premiere website devoted to perfume and fragrance" despite the fact that a) we came first, and b) we get more visitors)
On the news / articles side of things - this is where we let ourselves down. The blogs (Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin et al) do a much better job of regularly writing about news and new releases. Incidentally we're not technically a blog, though I have made the front page look like one over the last few years purely to make it easier for people to work out how to use the site.
I have searched extensively on the net, and have yet to see a more comprehensive site. Basenotes has members from North America, many parts of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.
I think other sites probably have a similar reach, but because we encourage our members to display their country flags in their profile it is more obvious that the membership is wide spread. I am proud of the fact that our membership, while mostly US based, also has a large membership from other countries too.
There are other similar blogs and sites like MUA et al, but in my opinion, they arent as extensive or "fun" (please note that I am not implying that they are inferior).
So my questions are:
1) What is the history of basenotes? Is there a page which describes who was the founder of basenotes and how it was initiated? How many members do we currently have ?
This is going to be a long one.
Firstly, you can get an idea how the site has changed at this page here (you can click on the images for a larger view):http://www.basenotes.net/site_news/newlook.html
Secondly, I should introduce myself - I am Grant Osborne (b. 1976, London) and I am the creatorof Basenotes.
Way back in 1998 I'd just got myself a new computer, and I was able to go on the internet for the first time. This was the computer:
At the time I was interested in a career in illustration. I was working in a UK shop called Boots the Chemist at the time, running their Photo / Camera department (http://www.boots.com)
. I wasn't fond of the job and though If I made a website showcasing my illustrations I would soon make a fortune! That didn't happen
I registered the domain name celebritycaricatures.com (I've since lost that domain name - I forgot to renew it) and the site featured caricatures of people like Britney Spears, Ewan McGregor and various other famous people at the time. I also used to do illustrations and cover art for the online Apple Mac ezine, (here's an april fool cover i did: http://www.atpm.com/6.04/index.shtml
Xmas 1998 - I was dancing at the Boots Xmas party to (ironically) Tragedy by the Bee Gees. Rather stupidly, I managed to tear a tendon in my leg and was laid off work for six weeks... And if that hadn't happened, Basenotes would probably not be here.
During this six weeks, I had plenty of time to think about things. One thing I did know was that I didn't want to be selling cameras forever. So, I sat at home with my one working leg studying a few HTML books to improve my caricatures website.
On my return to work I saw a sign on the staff notice board: INTERNAL VACANCY - Men's Fine Fragrance Consultant wanted.
I thought well, a change is as good as a rest and applied for the position. I knew nothing about fragrance. I had a bottle of Jazz and a bottle of XS which I had recieved for the last two Christmases, but apart from that zilch. They all smelt the same to me
Despite my lack of knowledge, I had a willingness to learn and I was given the job.
So having been at the job a few months, I was really getting into it. I never knew there was so much to learn about fragrance so I thought I'd go on the internet and see if there was a site with all the notes and perfumers on it.
I found one which was almost what I was after called "Cologne Guy" (archive here: http://www.thecologneguy.com
). Todd Bennett ran the site and he reviewed all the latest releases - it was great. The site had featured in Vogue etc, and was Netscape "site the day" (interview with Todd Bennett here btw: http://www.basenotes.net/interviews/int-cologneguy.html
I kept visiting the site, and after a while it stopped being updated. I thought that this could be a new website to make. A regularly updated website about mens fragrance...
I had loads of information about mens fragrance at work so I started entering it into a ClarisWorks database. Soon I was up to 100+ men's fragrances. I then started scouring the internet for other fragrances I didn't know about . I managed to build up the database to about 700 fragrances.
Meanwhile I needed a name. I couldn't think of anything. In the end I decided on topnotes.com - but blast! it was already taken. I looked into heartnotes, but a) it sounded to girly for a mens fragrance site and it was also taken.
So, I thought, we'll try Basenotes.com and if that's taken I'll try something else. Well, I was in luck. I paid my £60 and that's how the name came about.
BY now, Cologneguy went offline and I knew that I had to make the fragrance website.
I set up a page which said: COming soon - an online guide to the world of men's fragrance. and left a form so that people could be notified by email when the site was ready.
By early 2000, the site was almost ready and I then went on a few of my favourite Usenet groups - alt.skincare, alt.fashion.men, alt.perfume (Usenet was really the follow on from BBS systems and the forerunner to community sites like this more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet
) and posted about my forthcoming site (now this would be called spamming
At the time you would download the Usenet messages via a Newsreader or your email client, but you can now access what remains of them via web interfaces. Google Groups allows you to access the Usenet archives, and you can see one of the earlier posts here that I made here
Eventually people were coming to the site and leaving their email address to be notified when we went online.
One day, I went to the old Cologneguy site to see if it had come back online. It had, but it wasn't Todd Bennetts site. Instead was a note saying coming soon...
So I religiously checked the page daily. Eventually a link to a new site sprang up. The new site as run by a Canadian named Michael, and was called Cologne Review (Archive of his site here: http://web.archive.org/web/20000817090902/http://www.colognereview.com/
. I was a little annoyed as my site was nearly ready and he had beaten me too it. In the end I decided that a little competition never harmed anyone, and decided to give him a sneak preview of my site.
He liked it, and put a link on his front page to my 'coming soon' page:
For our fans in Europe - there is a new web site starting up with the same idea as this one. Go visit Grant at his web site and see how it develops. I am looking forward to working with him to benefit both our sites. His site is called BaseNotes and has a link on my links page.
As his site was getting quite a few visitors (due to the fact that the CologneGuy site was linked to all over the net) I was now getting more and more emails a day from people who wanted to know when the site was ready.
When people signed up to be notified, I asked them to fill in their name, email address and favourite men's fragrance. One of the emails I got was from a guy named Michael Edwards, whose favourite fragrance was Eau Sauvage.
I thought that it couldn't be the same one. I knew there was a Michael Edwards who created the industry bible "The Fragrance Advisor" (now known as Fragrances of the World). We had a copy of his book at work , and I used it daily. I didn't think anything of it until he emailed me just before the site's launch.
He asked when the site was going to be online. So I replied and sent him a link to the nearly finished site. He liked it -- and he was the Michael Edwards. I was walking on clouds for weeks.
So the site was nearly ready and at the last minute I decided that something was missing -- a lot of the other hip website had a forum where people could talk about things relevant to their hobby. I didnt think anyone would want to talk about men's fragrance, but it added another section so the site. The forum was fairly basic. (based on this one here http://www.scriptarchive.com/demos/w.../wwwboard.html
And there was are. That's how Basenotes came to be. Obviously a lot more has happened in the last six years. Here are a few highlights.
In late 2000 I moved the forum to eGroups http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Basenotes/
(whch was bought by Yahoo and became Yahoo Groups). The old forum wasn't up to the job. Stayed there until 2003 when I moved the site to a YaBB forum housed on my server. I wanted to bring the discussion group to the main site, rather than seperately, so I could use the log-in facility to make reviews easier and implement some new ideas I had thought of, like the wardrobes)
May 2001 - I found a program which would allow me to put my database online (prior to that I was doing it manually - very time consuming). This allowed people to search by house / note etc - and the site still runs off the same system today.
Apr 2003: PerfumeReview.com was launched (). I wanted to make a female version of Basenotes, but decided that it would be too time consuming to make two sites and in September 2004 decided to merge what was PerfumeReview in to Basenotes. There was some objections at first, as Basenotes was a "men's" site, but I think it's worked pretty well. Even two years on, We're still known as a 'men's' site, and many female perfume fans are probably unaware that the directory contains women's as well as men's fragrances. This is also why we have a separate men's and women's discussion board -- its a throwback to when the site was men only -- and it is a reason why many people come here.
Perfume Review is now a perfume shopping comparison site: http://www.perfumereview.com
which took me bloody ages to write.
Aug 2005: I give up work full-time (I left selling fragrances in 2001, and went on to insurance (yawn!) and then working for an examinations board) to become a full-time dad to my newborn boy. It does mean I have a bit of extra time to work on the site but because I no longer work, we're pretty skint. Fortunately, I am finally in a position where the income from the site covers the expenses of the site, so it doesn't look like I'll be closing it down in the near future. Any extra cash from the site is going towards paying of the credit card debts I accrued while I was carrying the site for the first few years!
As well as PerfumeReview other side projects include Boozenotes.com - which was originally made as a joke (being a pun on Basenotes). I did start toying with the idea of doing something with it last year, but this site keeps me far too busy.
Facenotes.net will hopefully be like Basneotes but with makeup - it's my wife's side project but she has been v busy lately so, its on pause currently.
2) Many fan-based sites and magazines have now become famous (examples include Anandtech, Edge magazine, etc.) and have attracted the intention of the big players in their industry. Is basenotes at that level yet ? Would the industry titans like Hermes, YSL, et al. be browsing basenotes to observe what we think of the latest releases ?
We've featured in consumer magazines like FHM, and Men's Health as well as high-profile websites like MSNBC. We've also featured in Industry magazines too.
People from the industry do regularly visit Basenotes. I won't mention names - but the directory is used as a reference by perfumers, bottle designers and other industry people. The directory reviews are read by industry and many industry figures read and post to this board. We don't have the clout of MUA, and its unlikely I'll get there. My aim is to become the imdb of perfume. (and if Amazon want to buy Basenotes too, then if the price is right...)
3) Do we have any industry insiders amongst us? [/quote]
Any members who attend or have been invited to some of the official fragrance industry gatherings or awards ceremonies ?
In the six years I've been doing this, I've not been invited to one industry bash. I don't get inundated with freebies either. I probably get about 4-5 review bottles of fragrance a year. I don't do the site for freebies and industry bashes though - i do it because it's my hobby.
Sometimes I get emails from people that think we are a big corp, with several staff. Its not. It's just me, tapping away on my ageing iMac in my front room. (though I have moderators who help run things here, and several people who contribute articles and research for the site too). This may explain why when you email me , it can take 2 months for a reply.
In response to few of the other questions and comments:
local legend has it that Basenotes started years ago as a Yahoo group. It was lead by a shady character going under the laughably psuedonymous moniker of "Grant Obourne". He is rumoured to sleep only one hour a nighta nd have plastic surgery every 6 months, to conceal his identity. Members: 6,375, Active Members: 1,800
* Yep - those supporter's fees go on my extensive plastic surgery bills.
* The website and directory came before the Yahoo Group
* There is no 'u' in my name - I blame Ozzy for perpetuating this myth!
* one hour a night is for wimps! Try ten minutes.
Rumor has it that Col actually met him once in the flesh. Since that meeting he's now bald and refuses to discuss the whole event.
You wait till you meet me Paul, you can say goodbye to your
Older members remember how Perfume Review was actually supposed to be the female equivalent of Basenotes. Separate directories, separate forums, separate homepages - all in pink where Basenotes is green. There was no large directory of all those scents at one time; they were just men's scent way back when, and the women's scents were to be in the Perfume Review directory - the "female Basenotes" directory. And there was a working Perfume Review forum, too.
Ah, simpler times. Until recently you could still access the old Perfume Review board.
Here was the template:http://www.basenotes.net/perfumerevi.../template.html
When we moved to our new server in December, the board got lost (Its still there but I never updated the settings to work with the new server)
Edit: found the old front page:http://www.basenotes.net/perfumereview/per-index.html
And the old directory still works a little bit too:http://www.basenotes.net/perfumerevi...i?a14=10210504
If anyone has any Q's about the site history, please post. It was fun writing all that (though I intended to cover the whole six years, but it was taking too long! And that washing up aint gonna get done by itself)
I'm still waiting for the site to run finish running its maintenance thing, so its offline at the moment. See you all soon!