Interview with Shelley Waddington, Perfumer & Owner of EnVoyage Perfumes

Shelley Waddington
is chief perfumer and owner of EnVoyage Perfumes, an indie perfume house from Northern California. Shelley 
grew up in the small village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is also an artist colony and one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
Shelley draws, creates crafts and plays different musical instruments: clarinet, flute, soprano alto and tenor saxophone, piano, accordion and guitar, - Shelley taught music and music theory for 10 years. Her hobby is also ethnobotany, i.e. studying the relationship of people inhabiting certain areas for centuries and the plants they use. Shelley started her perfume line by describing her native town with much perceptiveness and fondness: four fragrances make up the Carmel-by-the-Sea Collection.

The newest Odyssey Collection consists of three fragrances inspired by travels and cultures.

I am very thankful to Shelley for introducing me to her perfumes. I instantly had my personal favorites, but I must admit that all EnVoyage perfumes are wonderfully formulated.

Please tell us more about your decision to study perfumery in Grasse and particularly at Galimard. This old perfumery is not widely known outside France.
Shelley Waddington: I was completely self-taught until, in 2001, while I was staying in Mougins, I happened to visit nearby Grasse. I saw the Galimard House standing on the hill, and on impulse stopped off at their office and told them, I want to study perfume, will you teach me?

I dont think they even had a website back then, and it was only later that I learned that by blind luck I had entered the prestigious domain of Jean de Galimard, one of the great firsts and the founder of the perfumers and glovers guild way back in the 1700s.

 My short time at Galimard furnished answers to many of my questions, cemented my understanding of perfume architecture, families, basic principles, and introduced me to alcohol, synthetics and fixation. It was a huge olfactory and professional leap that helped set a solid foundation. 

Do you use your knowledge of ethnobotany in creating perfumes?

Shelley Waddington: Edge Of the World is such a perfume, Elena. It centers around the herbs, plants and smells that would have been part of the cultural experience of a small group of natives who once lived in Carmel. This project is documented in a series of blog articles: please read more here.

Pushing the envelope in unusual and inventive ways is a part of my signature. For example, one of my natural perfumes is based on Fibronaccis golden spiral.  I have also experimented  with esoteric perfumes based on magical correspondences, astrology and  the kabbalah that are very spiritually and emotionally powerful. I will be releasing them for the first time next year as limited editions. 

I admire your Makeda, Carmel Boheme, Peche Noir, I also find your first masculine Havane pour Homme very interesting ;o) Your latest perfumes are more daring and more experimental. Am I wrong?
Shelley Waddington: Youre right, Elena, the Odyssey Collection is very sexual and seductive, and is another example of one of the ways I keep pushing the envelope beyond the traditional. 

I made Makeda to honor the famed passion between Solomon, King of Israel and Makeda,  the Queen of Sheba (present day Ethiopia). It is the first tribute to the true name and true love of this powerful, aristocratic, wealthy sovereign African woman ruler. Makeda is a song of seduction and intrigue and is designed to be worn as a statement of inner queenly power and a personal song of desire.

The note of agawood so well incorporated into the floral bouquet of Makeda touched my heart.

As you probably already know, ouds can range from  smoky/ leathery to deeply woody/earthy, to woody/ambery with an olibanum quality. I chose the latter as the best starting point for burnished dark, feminine skin and for queenliness which I associate with gold. Then I blurred the edges a bit further with the cedar and musk.

My inspiration for Peche Noire was the erogenous zones; the nape of the neck, and the female genitals. The nape of the neck is a special area to the Japanese Geisha who employ it provocatively by concealing and revealing. I wanted to create a subtle second skin and this called for rare natural ambergris. And peach, the symbol of female genitalia in Ancient China.

My vision for Havne pour Homme was of the tango; an ultimate flirtation of intimate defiance, inevitably melting into a hot Caribbean love encounter accompanied by the sweet smells of sex and mojitas.

Do you plan to expand your line for men?
Shelley Waddington: Yes! Anticipate another men's fragrance with lots of interesting masculine and woody notes in the near future.

You are now working on the composition with rose, could you please share details?
Shelley Waddington: This new fragrance will be released in Spring, 2011 and is the first of an entirely new collection. It is a soliflor based on a spectacular organic Iranian rose Otto that is rarely available outside of Iran, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
All I can say at this time is that it involves a special pairing and a special story that will be another completely new and original  first-of-a-kind. Would you like to be the first to receive it?

I would be delighted! I promiss to our readers to write about it on Fragrantica!

What are natural isolates you teach at your perfumery classes?
Shelley Waddington: Isolates are single, pure, natural aroma molecules. There are dozens of them!  They are extracted in from natural raw materials, using various processes of physical isolation. They can be used for both perfumes and flavors!
Isolates provide soft fruit, fresh floral, and gourmand notes such as strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, cherry, heliotrope, coumarin, and butterscotch. I use them to extend my palette of natural materials.  

When is your next workshop, do you teach online?

Shelley Waddington: The natural  isolates course is now ongoing and year round. It's available through correspondence, which allows each student to work at their own pace. Ongoing and unlimited email support is provided, and I have two perfume chemist consultants who help to answer technical questions. Its the first isolates course ever to be offered to perfumers and the only one that provides blending samples. New students are always welcome! New students can register here at my web site!


The Perfuming With Natural Isolates course is now ongoing and year-round, and available through correspondence, which allows each student to work at their own pace.  Includes ongoing and unlimited email support , with two perfume chemist consultants  on staff to answer those technical questions.
Includes a kit of 17 Isolates!

$175 value Holiday Special:  $160 until December 15
This beautiful  fragrance compass for perfumers and perfume lovers brings order, inspiration, and deeper understanding of the perfume families.
 Indespensible for anyone who wears, blends, shops for, or writes about perfume.
The perfect stocking stuffer! 


Canadian Fir, Cinnamon, Orange and Frankincense
In 2.5 oz. French Brosse bottle with pouring  top
Fragrance for  your holiday potpourri, oil burner, pinecones and yuletide logs.
Perfect hostess gift! 


Images: EnVoyage Perfumes, Galimard


Author: Jeca (jeca)
Fragrantica Member