Friday, April 1, 2011

We're Having Fun

Everything about Cozy Cottage Scents is fun.  How many people can say that about their jobs?  The best part has to be reading pages and pages of fragrance oil descriptions.  When the samples arrive, I can hardly wait for them to reach room temperature to start sniffing.  I always tell myself I'll stop after 10 sample sniffs to prevent "candle nose" but I can never resist and I keep on sniffing.  Candle nose is an interesting phenomenon.  The ability to smell anything at all is gone.  Just gone, nose is on overload.  Similar to having the worst cold in the world and you can't taste your food.  Even the "coffee bean" trick doesn't help.  Only time heals the candle nose!

Picking colors, deciding on sprinkles, creating labels and adding the raffia bows to each tart cello bag all adds to the fun.  Scent disasters, and there are many, and oil spills are not fun although some scent disasters actually are down right hilarious.  One of our customers accidentally referred to our Corner Laundry scent as Dirty Laundry.  Trust me, we have created some REAL Dirty Laundry scents and not on purpose - see my previous blog post about Testing, Testing, Testing.
We keep a gigantic Excel spreadsheet of all our fragrances, formulas, colors, listings, successes, failures and, of course, a wish list.  The wish list is the longest of all.  Isn't that always true? Looking at that Excel spreadsheet is similar to a conductor looking over the orchestra knowing the beauty that is about to explode.  Creating a perfect scent is sheer joy.

Worrying is the worst part of the job.  Supplier prices have shot up just like gasoline and groceries.  On the positive side, we are now using USPS Regional Rate boxes and have been able to lower our shipping prices.  We're consumers, too, and we know low shipping is a factor in buying decisions.  Marketing is a constant struggle.  Trying to get the word out, posting on Facebook, sponsoring Giveaways, newsletters and blogging.  Google Analytics is helping us track our website traffic, rather addicting, too!  

The BEST marketing of all is when our customers post reviews about our tarts.  Let's just say that we highly encourage you (hint hint) to post your raves about our tarts on any and all candle or wax tart forums.  Wish you could hear our cheers of glee each time we read one.  Your positive reviews mean the world to us. Thank you so very much!

Lulu and Pert

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Testing, testing, testing

At last count, I think I've learned of almost 200 Fragrance Oil suppliers in the US.  There are a number of forums for candlemakers, bath and body etailers, crafters, etc. and the Fragrance forums are always the busiest.  Before I got into this business, I had no idea there were 200 suppliers.  I knew of what I thought were the "big" ones of Daystar, Wholesale Supplies Plus and Brambleberry.  Oh no no no. There are many, many "big" ones! 

On the consumer side, I read about many of you labeling yourselves as tart addicts or wax heads.  If you really want an addicting past time, try testing fragrance oils!  I can't stop.  I must stop.  I won't stop.   Some fragrance oil suppliers have truly gifted writers and their descriptions make you want to order everything.  I have no idea what a Flowering Dogwood smells like but I want it!  

Testing is fun and when you finally hit the right oil, it is heaven.  But the road to heaven is paved with many duds.  Horrible duds.  My latest quest is for the perfect Lily of the Valley.   Not to be found.....yet.  

For many of our scents, we blend a little bit of magic into the formula.  Sometimes you just can't find perfection and you have to create it yourself.  Lots of failures in this formulation process.  Sometimes you get the perfect scent but no matter what you do, you just can't get it to last or throw.  Adding more oil is not an option because wax will only hold so much fragrance oil.  We learned the hard way and our tarts came out with puddles of oil on the bottom which in turn left holes in the tarts.

The wax blend is also very important.  Soy has great "cold throw" for sniffing it cold but some oils just have low "hot throw" in soy wax.  More and more fragrance oil suppliers are starting to create oils especially for soy which is helpful but it is not yet perfect.  Some waxes have great hot and cold throw but are too hard for a tart and the tart won't melt completely.  Others are too soft and that makes it hard to get out of the tart melter even if you put it in the freezer to help the wax "pop" out.  At Cozy Cottage Scents, we use a blend of waxes to get the best of all worlds.  Not easy and lots of testing, testing, testing!

Another aspect of testing is how hot you "pour" the wax at.  If the melted wax is too cool, the fragrance oil will not bind to it.  If the wax is too hot, the fragrance oil will "burn" away before it becomes a solid tart in the mold.  And then some oils need different pour temps and some waxes need different pour temps.  

It's quite possible to get a wonderful tart without knowing any of this.  However, when you are making tarts which customers pay for, to us, it is critical to not list any scent until it has our personal stamp of perfection.  Thus, no Lily of the Valley on our scent list.....yet.  

I think the very worst part of testing is testing a fragrance which is not a personal favorite.  When you don't like something, you have to find someone who can give an honest opinion.  I don't like chocolate scents but had to carry them during Valentine's season.  We needed to get an outside tester who likes the scent of chocolate to give us an honest opinion of our scents and the cold and hot throw.  I love eating it, just don't like it in wax at all!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Building an Empire

It's a good thing we're not in politics because we plan on building an empire!  Cozy Cottage Scents has fallen in love with Caramelized Pralines.  We tested several versions, found the best and strongest, and then tweaked it a bit to make it absolutely perfect. It's sweeter than regular caramel, more butter, too.  The kick is from a very subtle hint of the pecans.  The throw is super and will fill the house for hours and hours.

There are some scents that become empires.  Pink Sugar has many empires built around it as it  blends easily with many other scents.  Another empire builder is Vanilla Bean Noel.  Both these scents are stand alone favorites and readily lend themselves to blending with other notes.  Our empire is being built around Caramelized Pralines.  So far we have blended it with Pink Sugar, Coconut and Banana.  Each is better than the other.  How do you choose?
We have quite a few more Caramelized Pralines blends in the works and can't wait till they are ready for testing.  Make sure you join our monthly newsletter emailing list so you can get the updates on our new scents.  Sign up for our  mailing list is found at the bottom of our home page.

Our next empire..... Red Licorice blends!


Lulu and Pert

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Happy One Month Blog Anniversary!

Hello Fellow Wax Fans!

It has been exactly one month since our first blog post.  I'm surprised I haven't blogged more. Adding this to my weekly "to do" list is a must or I'll continue to forget.  

The very best part of our roles as the owners of Cozy Cottage Scents is finding new fragrance oil suppliers and testing the oils.  As I read various candle boards or, it seems that many non-owners of candle, tart or bath and body sites believe that most owners buy from three suppliers.  That is so not true.  The three that get mentioned the most are Snow Drift Farms, Wholesale Supplies Plus and Day Star. We have never ordered from two of those.  At this point in time, we have ordered from 23 different suppliers in a list of about 150 to 200 suppliers, some lists still have suppliers listed who have gone out of business or merged with others.  I have visited 112 of the supplier sites and most look wonderful with scent descriptions that make you want to buy all of them.  It's a dangerous hobby!  The other side of this hobby is tweaking the oils with our own formulas and blends.  If you ever saw the original Star Trek episode of "The Trouble with Tribbles," then you can imagine how our scent blends just keep on multiplying and multiplying and multiplying.  Unfortunately, most are not winners!

We have tested six Banana Nut Breads and not been happy with any.  One arrived yesterday and seems to have promise.  There are several forums for those of us who make items using fragrance and they are very giving and sharing posters on those boards.  This supplier came highly recommended for their Banana Nut Bread, we'll see!  Another really tricky scent is Buttercream.  And it's hard to find a Vanilla with decent throw.  The wax or wax blend really matters, too.  I am continually amazed when I read the posts by candle makers (chandlers) or soap makers.  The wick, the wax, the container, everything matters plus they really need to worry about cold and hot throw, especially if they sell at craft or vendor shows.  Soap, well, you might as well be a chemist if you make it from scratch.  I never heard these terms before....seizing, discounting, beating, gelling, and then discoloration is a BIG deal.  Also amazing is how long they have to let the soap cure and how the scent changes in time strong, to weak, back to strong and then completely different or completely gone.  I have a completely new appreciation of hand made soap from scratch.

We hope you share this blog with others as well as our website and facebook page.  Your feedback is very important to us, especially regarding our scents.  Trust me, if something isn't right, we have plenty of supplier choices and infinite blending possibilities.

Lulu and Pert

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Red Licorice Blends

Today is our experimentation day with Red Licorice and blending it with other scents.  It's an interesting process because what you think the end results will be, often is not. We hope to launch our Red Licorice blends in February. By then, we should have some winning scents.  I can tell you I'll never look at a bag of Twizzlers the same again.

Our Valentine Boxes are doing well and most surprising to us is that the Dark Seductions box is outselling the others.  We are constantly replenishing so right now, they should be available for you.  I know many of our customers are not "posters" on the candle boards but some are and we're anxious to read the reviews.  We'll need to put on our big girl and big boy pants on and make sure we always use reviews as learning and growing experiences!

We had snow yesterday and that was nice.  I like the four distinct seasons we have here in northern Illinois.  I think this first year will be interesting to trend the scents that sell each season and which are year round favorites.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Blenders Naming Contest

I'm finding that it's quite a bit of fun to create scents by blending various oils.  Granted, there have been quite a few we had to toss but the process is still fun, especially when you come up with a winner.  Back in the day when I was a tart melter instead of a tart maker, I remember often wishing a certain tart had more berry in it or more crust.  Cozy Cottage Scents is introducing Blenders to help our customers cravings for creativity.

Blenders are single note mini tart packs. Each mini tart weighs .25 oz and each pack will weigh 2 ounces which gives you 8 mini tarts per pack.  You can buy several and completely create your own scent (3 root beer + 2 vanilla +1  musk) or just add a few to an existing tart (add 2 lemon to a Lemon Meringue Pie tart that has a too heavy crust scent). 

We aren't convinced Blenders is the best name.  CONTEST! Submit your idea below or on our Facebook fan page.  Winner will win $25.00 in Cozy Cottage Scents tarts, blenders, or Valentine Boxes. Contest ends January 11, 2011.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day Two - Thinking about a contest

Publicity is key.  We need to get our name out there.  We need to run a contest, everyone loves contests.  Maybe a "like our FB page" contest and we'll pick a winner at random.  Prize will be something.  Need a prize.  Maybe one of our Valentine Boxes.  I'll keep you posted.

I wonder how other Tartists handling pouring tarts they just don't like.  I'm not one for roses, never have been but need to have rose scents.  We have been testing Sweet Green Grass oils for what seems like weeks.  Haven't found one we like.  Yesterday, a shipment of oils arrived from a new supplier and most of the oils were excellent but the Sweet Grass was so bad that I can't even describe it.  More like grass that's been sitting in a compost pile for a few weeks.   Eeeeew.

Do you ever wonder what tart makers melt for their own pleasure?  Most of the time, our house is filled with whatever tarts we're pouring that day and no need to melt anything extra.  But on days like today, when we didn't have many to make, I've been melting our Sugar Corn Pudding. It is a crazy scent description but so delicious. Sweet notes, hot very buttery corn and salt.  You can actually smell the salt! And a custard, creamy sweetness throughout.

Tomorrow is Friday and that is always a good thing!