Everything You Always Wanted to Know About *Perfume Classes ( *But Were Afraid To Ask)

Ever wonder what goes on in our perfume classes here at Providence Perfume Co.?  Well, if you're looking for glowing student reviews of our classes we've got them peppered throughout our website.  But, if you're looking for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what goes into our classes we are ready to share!  I've written this post in conjunction with Sabrina, my fabulous assistant here at Providence Perfume Co. Sabrina offers invaluable perspective on the perfume classes and offers poignant and supportive feedback which includes the likes of: "Nobody cares if you wear jeans on Sunday when you teach the class Charna," and "I don't think anybody noticed that you forgot what you were saying in the middle of teaching accord building.  I mean, you had been talking for a long time so that's probably to be expected."  Sabrina is one smart lady, right?

I firmly believe in small, hands on, face to face perfume classes, held in our working perfumery in Providence.  Rhode Island experiences typical capricious New England weather, which means it can uncomfortably hot and humid in the summer and freezing and snowing in the winter.  Consequently we must schedule our perfume classes in the fall or spring when temperatures are moderate and the risk of blizzard is small. (Ask me why this can be an issue and I'll note the unfortunate scheduling of the March 2012 perfume class which just so happened to coincide with the famous "blizzard of 2012" that left four feet (!) of snow in Providence and Boston and caused the cancellation of a large class.  Touché mother nature.  Lesson learned.)  

Because so many of our perfume class attendees fly into Providence, scheduling classes seasonally is important.  All this scheduling can be challenging.  Just when we think we have the perfect date to circled on the calendar to hold an amazing new perfume class, we discover:


A) It's Brown University Parent's Weekend.  Consequently, hotels have no vacancy.



B) There's a Star Trek convention being held at the local convention center, said to draw thousands to the city.  Consequently, hotels have no vacancy.



C) It's a long holiday weekend during peak foliage season.  Consequently, hotels have no vacancy.

Yep, this happens.  We find a new date.

Speaking of hotels, traveling perfume class attendees want to know where to stay and how to get here.  If you plan on flying into the state to attend one of our natural perfumery classes, I recommend flying into TF Green airport located in Warwick, RI.  It is a short 15 minute cab ride to Providence and the TF Green airport is small and easy to navigate.  Logan airport in Boston is another option, but coordinating travel by bus or train from Boston to Providence can be expensive and time consuming.

On to where to stay: I recommend staying in Providence versus one of the neighboring cities such as Cranston or Warwick.  You may be able to find a cheaper hotel outside the city, but you'll have to take a long cab ride to and from classes and miss staying in the fabulous city of Providence.  

The first hotel I recommend for perfumery students is the Wyndham Garden .  I recommend this hotel as it is budget friendly and within walking distance to the perfumery.  Conveniently located just a few blocks away from the perfumery, the Wyndham Garden allows students to walk easily to classes.  Should you prefer not to walk, there is a hotel shuttle which can traffic you around the city.  Feedback from students is the hotel is "fine" or "o.k." so gauge the experience accordingly.  Many students indicated they found cheaper rates for the Wyndham online using one of the travel booking sites like Expedia.  If you are seeking a trendy hotel with a modern vibe, you may want to look into the new Dean Hotel.  If you're seeking the ultimate Providence experience, The Providence Biltmore is considered one of the nicest and most historical of Providence hotels.  Please note that the Dean and Biltmore hotels will require cab, trolley or bus transportation to the perfume boutique as they are not within walking distance.


 don't worry, it won't be snowing when you're here!


All classes are taught on site at the perfumery located at 301 Wickenden Street in Providence RI.  Wickenden Street is a quaint shopping district less than a mile away from Brown University and RISD, known for its artsy mom and pop owned shops including antiques, vintage clothing, pottery, records, and glass.  In addition, there are coffee houses, sandwich shops, an organic grocer, two stellar pizza places, Japanese, Ethiopian, and Indian restaurants, bars, and even a tasty crepe and cupcake bistro!  This is ideal as you can quickly and easily grab a meal.  (Sabrina would like to add that the restaurant across the street called the Duck & Bunny has the best rosemary garlic french fries you've ever tasted.)

The final question you may have on our perfume classes is content.  What exactly do we do in our perfume classes?  This is the toughest to answer as each class is different and tailored for a different levels and topics of study.  For a current list of perfumery classes with full course descriptions, see our "Perfume Classes and Materials" tab under PERFUMES.  I can tell you that I enjoy teaching natural perfumery classes and there is nothing better than meeting people who love to smell things and get excited by the differences between jasmine sambac and jasmine grandiflorum.  

I'm a perfumer not an aromatherapist, so I don't teach the health or therapeutic benefits of essential oils.  I am concerned with aroma.  I teach how to combine natural essences to create a pleasing well balanced perfume.  I have a special interest in helping those interested in starting a business, and am honest and forthright.  I share suppliers.  I leave the labels on the materials we pass around the table.  If you smell something you like, feel free to jot down where I've ordered it from so you too may order it.  I share horror stories of mistakes I've made over the years, such as ordering leaky perfume bottles from a disreputable supplier, so perhaps you won't make the same mistakes.  Questions are welcome, and classes are friendly and informative.



I hope we've answered your perfume class questions.  If not, don't be afraid to ask.  But before you email us, you might want to check the list below to see if we've answered your questions.


1.  Q: Can you come visit me in Estonia (insert any location other than Providence Perfume Co.) to teach a perfume class?
A: No, sorry.  I am a busy lady with a burgeoning business that keeps me so busy I am sadly unable to travel.  I'm sure that Estonia is beautiful in the winter, but I cannot come to you.  I expect my schedule to lighten in 2019 at which point I may be able to watch a movie in its entirety.
2. Q: Are you going to offer your classes in Manhattan again anytime soon?
A: No, sorry.  See above.
3. Q: Can I bring my friend/dog/husband to the class with me for free?
A: No, sorry.  Classes are small and room is reserved for students.
4. Q: How much loot do I get to bring home with me after the class?
A: Each class lists the take home materials offered.  We tend to underestimate the number of take home items so that we don't disappoint.  For example, in one class we state that students get to create and take home 1-2 solid perfume balms.  In reality and depending on time, most students create 4 solid perfumes.  When in doubt, check the course description.  We like to under promise and over deliver whenever possible.
5. Q: Why are all the classes scheduled for the weekend?  I want you teach a class on Monday nights, o.k.?
A: Classes are scheduled on the weekend so those that are traveling from a distance can get back home by Sunday evening, in time for work on Monday morning.  We do offer special events and classes a few times a year on weekdays. And private sessions are also available. Feel free to scroll through the months ahead on our online calendar to see what events are coming up.
6. Q: I really want to take a perfume class with you, but can't attend on the date that it is offered.  When will you be offering this class again?
A: Like a finely aged wine, our classes are a rare commodity and at most offered twice a year.  Many run only once a year.  If you see a class you are interested in taking, we recommend registering as soon as possible as classes often sell out additionally we offer discounted early registration pricing.  Feel free to visit our website weekly (even daily if you wish) to stay updated on all course offerings.
7. Q: Can I bring my favorite mass market fragrance to class and reproduce it after taking an Intro class with you?
A: No, sorry.  We focus on creating beautiful natural perfumes which are different than mass market perfumes produced mostly with synthetic ingredients.  In addition, it takes a great deal of study to copy a preexisting fragrance--more than an Intro class would provide. 
8. Q: Can I bring one of my own perfumes I've created and have you evaluate it to tell me if I am a good perfumer and if I will be successful and if I should quit my job as a stock broker and become a perfumer FULL TIME?
A: Argh, NO!  NO, NO, N.O.  Where do I begin?  I am uncomfortable with evaluating your perfume and I won't do it. Please don't try to make me.  I could tell you if it's well balanced.  I could discuss the scent's longevity or silage.  I will not tell you that I don't like it, even if I don't like it.  How crushing and horrible to hear!  I don't believe in brutal honesty.  Your perfume could be incredible.  But scent is even more subjective than sight.  Also, even if I did not like your perfume (which I would never tell you) it doesn't mean it wouldn't sell.  These things are not mutually exclusive.  See below:
9. Q: Which perfume class should I take?
A: It depends on your level of interest.  The Weekend Perfumery Intensive is usually the best bet unless you've taken previous classes.  Feel free to call us to discuss.  We are happy to speak with you.
10. Q: How did you get so witty?
A: Growing up a dimpled, glasses wearing girl with an unfortunate overbite allowed me lots of time to hone my wit while reading Sweet Valley High books in my bedroom closet snacking on Cheetos.  By the way, the dimples weren't on my cheeks.
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Charna, I am registered for the October weekend class and am really looking forward to coming up (from Delaware). I used to come up to Providence once in a while for work and love the city.

I have always enjoyed great smelling things and just started making body butters at home. Of course, scent is a part of that so I took an essential oils class. That was valuable because I learned the safety issues. I also learned that, while I appreciate the therapeutic properties, I was far more interested in the fragrance. The ‘chemist’ aspect is fun too…..as you describe in creating your vanilla fragrance. I was browsing for fragrance information, found there is such a thing as natural perfumery, then found you. Perfect. Perfume and Providence.
I’m not sure if what you teach us can be added to body butters but the idea of creating perfume is also very appealing.
Another motivator for taking this class is to facilitate my exit from Corporate Life (please, please, please). Starting a small, local business around something that I truly enjoy would be just wonderful. If this ends up as a hobby that allows me to share with family and friends, that’s fine too.
One question. I continue to play with body butters and would like to add vanilla. Surprise ;-) The vanilla in jojoba that I have is not that fragrant. Can you suggest something to try while I’m waiting for the class?
Looking forward to meeting you.
Robin Kielkowski

Robin Kielkowski

Charna, a great post, and very refreshing to read about your openness with students at your classess.
I am the same here in the UK and sometimes other perfumers “tell me off” for sharing suppliers or inside tips with students who want to start their own business. Glad I’m not alone and I have great respect for you for that! I’m sure your students are super proud of their honest teacher.

Also, yeah…Someday by Justin Bieber… Nuff said!

A fragrant wave from England.



Interesting about scheduling problems, I would have never thought they would be an issue.

NYC misses you and your wit!


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