After this snow-smothered winter, I can’t wait any longer to feel renewed and warm. So I head to Aroma Workshop in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood to create a fragrance that brings spring to me, right now.
As I'm seated at the fragrance testing bar in his tiny store, perfumer Tedd Neenan encourages me to take little whiffs that he calls “bunny sniffs” from mini colored bottles. They have fun names like Swizzle, Waves and Mojito. With more than 100 scents to sniff, the process seems overwhelming at first. But Tedd helps me narrow down bottles from four categories: floral, citrus, gourmand (food scents like vanilla) and natural (think baby-soft skin).
“Let your nose be curious, reminding you of favorite things and pleasant experiences, like the first time you smelled an ocean,” says Tedd.
It’s fun to nose-hop bottle to bottle—lilac, tea rose, honeysuckle, verbena, pomegranate and cucumber. Next it’s musk, mango, pear, sky and rain. With each sniff, I’m definitely feeling more spring-like. The fresh, free scent called Lake Shore Drive conjures up scenes of bobbing sailboats in Chicago’s lakefront harbors. I linger over Watermelon. I remember a backyard picnic with my toddler son. We’re playing “I Spy,” and pink juice drips off his chubby fingers.
While Tedd mixes variations of my top 10 choices in laboratory flasks, we chat about our lives. I learn he’s originally from Columbia, Missouri, and opened Aroma Workshop 21 years ago after a post-modern-dance career in New York City. I decide that mixing fragrances and performing on stage share the same spirit of experimentation. Tedd waves several dampened litmus paper strips under my nose. I take them outside for a fresh sniff. The watermelon-cucumber-sky combo hits all right notes. Back inside the shop, I pick out a 2-ounce, vintage-style glass perfume bottle (included in the $50 workshop fee). Tedd blends my fragrance and pours it into the bottle I chose.
I may have to lumber over a snow-encrusted curb to the car. But in my gloved hand, I have spring in a bottle.
Read more of Kit’s travel adventures at www.KitTravels.com.
Bottom photo courtesy of Aroma Workshop.
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