Great threat, Aromi!
First off, I work in a bar/restuarant-- front of the house-- and so our jobs are in complementary spheres. I really have a lot of respect for the guys and gals that work on the line, back in the hot kitchen. I've worked in food prep before and it's just as you described it. I know how far a little refresher of cologne goes in making you feel revitalized.
To be honest, one of the main reasons I got into this cologne thing dates back to when I was 17-18 years old and working an unglamorous job flipping burgers. I would be wading around in a constant world of grease and sweat. It was disgusting. At the time, being a teenager/young adult trying to look cool/impress girls, it was an embarrassing job. I hated it. I developed an OCD habit of trying to keep myself clean (rubbing bars of soap into my skin, using talcum powder). The result was worse than the problem I was trying to fix. I don't even want to get into it all, but it was a horrible time. I was convinced that the grease was always there and that I could smell it even after I stepped out of a shower. When I say OCD, it was serious.
Around that time, I had been using some cheap fragrances to freshen up with-- Preferred Stock, Actif Blue, an old bottle of Polo, some cheap CK one knockoff called "Melrose Place" that I got at Sam Goody (Oddly, I got a TON of compliments on that Melrose Place). For Christmas, my uncle bought me a coffret of Hugo Boss scents.
I loved Elements and Hugo and these became signature scents for me. I went over to a classmate's house and saw that he had five or six bottles of good cologne (CKOne, Polo Sport, Cool Water, etc) and I thought "WOW, this dude's got a ton of nice colognes". I wanted to be like him. I started hanging around the fragrance counters at the mall. I bought CKBe, Polo Sport, Drakkar Noir, Curve, Eternity for Men, etc.
At that point I was becoming worried. I knew that at the exact point at which I had 11 bottles of cologne that this was a "problem". I didn't want my friends and family to see my new obsession (or my new bottle of CK Obsession for Men either) and think I was "funny" so I started hiding my drobe, leaving about 4 scents on my dresser and keeping the rest hidden.
Nobody really knew how "into it" I was until I'd gotten my drobe to 50 and then had to tell my brother ( because we were going to be roommates). Eventually, I relaxed a little bit and the "metro" craze was going on, so it wasn't so much a big deal to tell people. And by that point I'd discovered Basenotes and a whole new world had opened up. I wanted to make my own scents someday. That was one of my goals in life.
So I spent a LOT of time buying scents, studying pyramids, etc. Then when I finally got my beginners perfumers organ I realized autodidactic perfumery was MUCH more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I got so discouraged at first.
Long story short, yesterday was kind of a big milestone for me. I sold my first bottle of my own fragrance to a paying customer! I'm working on developing a line, and the big rollout could still be a few years away-- I'm going to begin on a local level-- my first phase will be one of learning the ropes of business (I have a business consultant who is helping me with everything), and selling scents in local boutiques/hair salons/etc. I want to use the experience from this phase to get me through whatever mistakes I might make before I do it on a bigger level.
A few months ago, we held a focus group where my business consultant invited a group of people to her place and my scents were in blank tester bottles, labeled 1-8. I also provided sample vials so they could take samples of whatever they wanted. I got a lot of useful feedback on my scents. The weird thing is how some people loved some scents and were cold on a few, while others had the complete opposite taste.
The odd thing is that I got a request to buy a bottle of one of my scents-- and it was actually the one scent that managed to get a lukewarm response from the group in general. It was a dark, rich lavender scent with incense and leather. One of the guys had taken a sample with him and wore it to a bar. He wound up getting a lot of compliments from women as it worked really well with his skin chemistry. He had to buy a bottle, so I bottled some up and yesterday and brought it to work. My business consultant took the bottle to give to the guy (never met him) and gave me his money. It felt really good to finally make money from perfumes rather than always spending. The best part was that it wasn't a friend buying a bottle to be nice, but rather a total stranger who requested a bottle merely for the fact that it helped him score women. That's the test to know that you're on the right track!
Hopefully in the next couple of years, I'll go to phase 2, which is where my line gets its official release and everything rolls out. I want to do it right though at every stage. There are a lot of new niche lines springing up, some better than others-- I don't want to do it if it's not going to be something that fills a vaccuum in some way. I'm extremely excited.
OK, that veered off the topic of Aromi's thread a bit, but I wanted to show how my unfortunate work environment influenced me to look toward a career path as a perfumer.
Often, at work, my coworkers will ask me about scents and I'll make them samples of either my stuff or things from my drobe. A couple of years ago, a coworker wanted a good Fall fragrance, so I made him about 20 samples of different things that I like in Autumn. I was surprised that his favorite was Bel Ami.
One of my busboys is having issues with his cologne. Nobody likes the stuff he's wearing now and he told me that he's been keeping the bottle in the glovebox of his car and it's gone bad. I gave him the 101 of fragrance storage and application. I'm making him a small drobe of sample vials to wear so he can pick something he likes-- he thinks Light Blue is the sh!t and I want him to see that there are a lot more options in the world.