Friday, January 30, 2009

First Look Fridays: Neil Morris of Neil Morris Fragrances

I learned a lot and met tons of amazing people at the Sniffapalooza event in April 2008. One of my favorites? Definitely Neil Morris of Neil Morris Fragrances. A perfumer for over 30 years, his fragrances are all utterly unique and seriously intriguing. Morris is a Boston native -- he was born in Newton and now lives in Back Bay -- and he travels extensively to places like India, New Zealand, Finland and most of Europe. Read on to discover more about the fabulous Neil Morris of Neil Morris Fragrances!

Can you tell me a little about Neil Morris Fragrances?
Neil Morris Fragrances is a niche perfume company that is owned and operated by my business partner, David Garten, and me. Our passion is to offer unique and beautiful fragrances for the true fragrance lovers who are yearning for something different than fragrances offered by mass merchandisers.

We offer custom fragrances to individuals. When I create custom fragrance with a client, I sit with them for 90 minutes and conduct an intuitive interview consisting of a series of questions related to scent -- what is your favorite time of day, what is your favorite food, etc. I then have my client sample some of the oils that I think would appeal to them from the more than 800 essential and fragrance oils that I have collected from around the world. Together, drop-by-drop, we create their fragrance right on their skin. I then take that formula and create a 2-ounce bottle of their new scent for them to take.

In 2007, we launched the Neil Morris signature line of 8 fragrances (Aegean, Afire, Clear, Coral, Gotham, Rainflower, Storm and Zephyr). Each of the fragrances is based on memories of personal experiences and I include my inspiration for each fragrance, as well as its description, as part of the packaging.

Over the years I have created roughly 100 fragrances of my own, above and beyond all the custom fragrances for individual clients. I also create fragrances for private label clients including designers and retailers.

How did you first become interested in fragrance, and what led you to work in product development?
I discovered my passion for fragrances at a young age, inheriting my acute sense of smell from my mother. For example, as a child walking through the woods with friends, I would become intensely aware of the earth's scent as it shifted from winter to spring. I've always been aware of the scented world around me.

As a teenager and in my early 20s, I would always be on the lookout for different, unusual scents, traveling to Montreal and New York. In my early 20s I was visiting Scottsdale and happened upon a custom perfume shop that was owned by a wonderful man by the name of Erne. Erne was the first person I had met who was as passionate about fragrance as I was. I sat with him for about an hour and he asked me various questions related to scent. He developed a custom fragrance for me and mailed it to me several weeks later. This experience would propel me into the world of custom-blended scents.

When did you create Neil Morris Fragrances, and how did it grow from an idea to reality?
In 2003 I met my business partner. At the time I was creating scents for individual clients, friends and family, and for a private label. David convinced me that we could introduce my scents to a larger audience. In 2005 we established Neil Morris Fragrances, followed by the launch of the Neil Morris signature line.

What are some of the highlights in your career?
Creating custom fragrances for individual clients is still my favorite part of this business. Each time I sit with a client, we create a scent that is truly as unique as that individual.

Being asked to create an exclusive fragrance for Takashimaya New York was an incredible honor.

David and I were also extremely honored to be asked as representatives of the niche perfume world to speak at the Health and Beauty Expo in NYC along with industry leaders from some of the largest fragrance companies in the world.

What are your top 3 fragrance tips?
1) Do NOT spray the air in front of you and walk through it! It doesn't work and all you're doing is paying top dollar for a room spray!

2) Do not apply your perfume two minutes before you go out the door! You'll knock everybody out on the elevator. 10-15 minutes before leaving the house would be best.

3) Apply fragrance to pulse points on the wrist, elbows, behind the ears and behind your knees. Fragrance rises so you'll be able to smell it longer. Also, lift your hair up (if it's long) and spray the hairline at the nape of your neck. The fragrance will stick to the hair and will waft around you when the wind blows.

What is your favorite Neil Morris fragrance and why?
One of my favorites is Clear, because it's such a bracing, summery scent. It also reminds me of the beautiful day that inspired the fragrance. In reality, each of the fragrances that I have created is special to me in its own way.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I'm most happy when sitting with a client creating a custom fragrance or introducing people to the many scents that I've created over the years. When a client smiles and says that this is the perfume they've been looking for all their life, this is the highest compliment.

Playing with fragrances must be fun -- but what are some things you do for fun outside of being a fragrance creator?
I love spending time with friends and family. I am also an avid traveler, I love to read and go to the movies. I also love old-style diners!

Be sure to check out for more information on the line and to purchase the fragrances that inspire you.

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