Why do I love the fragrance of Jasmine, while my late sister and business partner, Michelle, thought it stunk?

I had never given much thought to how personal fragrance was until I started making natural skin care products. I knew which scents I liked of course, but learning about all the different essential oils and phthalate free fragrance oils we were going to be using was incredible. My customers wanted different scents and I needed to know how to help guide them. It was months of testing and smelling and experimentation, but it was worth every sniff.

Scent likes and/or dislikes are not only quite personal, but also stem from the many life experiences we all go through. The stories we hear from our customers prove the theory over and over again that smell is one of the strongest emotional senses we have. This is a known fact, but I love how it keeps confirming itself.

We have begun to ask our customers why they love a certain scent and why they stay away from another.

Stories come out about beloved family members or friends or even a moment in a particular relationship. One woman said she hates anything lavender because there was a bouquet of it on the table in the crowded hospital where she sat for hours waiting to have her broken arm cast in plaster. Another woman said that she always liked a particular fragrance, until her roommate, who smelled similar, made out with her college boyfriend. The answers are always interesting, always passionate and sometimes quite poignant, with traces of the emotion left on the face of the teller as they “smell” the smell in the far reaches of their memories. Yes, scent is truly that powerful.

Our sense of smell, known as the olfactory system, takes a scent from the nostrils to the brain, stopping to be recognized as a particular fragrance along the way. Throw a life experience into the mix as the brain is registering the scent, and you have just learned to like and/or dislike a particular smell based on the emotional association you just made with it at that particular moment. Pretty cool, huh?

I, myself, finally pinpointed the reason I love the scent of Jasmine.

There was a room in my grandparents’ home that had a life-like 3-foot doll that I spent hours playing with. The scent in the room was a combination of my grandma’s heady jasmine perfume and a bit of camphor, which has a musky sweetness all its own. Michelle, being almost 7 years my junior, was considered too young and never allowed in there. Her memories were completely different, and therefore, for whatever reason, the smell of Jasmine or anything similar was simply “awful” in her mind.

You can even classify a person by the smells they are drawn to. I am a “citrus” and a “fresh”, Wendy, our production manager is a “minty”, Diana our sales associate and production assistant is a “sweet”.

However, as I have experimented and worked to bring new scents to our fragrance line, I am allowing for new memories, thereby opening my mind as well as my nostrils.

So, which fragrance are you?