Scent-sational: ‘How I made fragrances for Country Road’

Perfumer Ainslie Walker shares her Aussie-inspired fragrance journey.

Country Road is one of Australia’s largest and most renowned lifestyle brand.

Last year the company celebrated its 50th anniversary, illustrating their huge success and iconic status in Australia and New Zealand’s shopping climate.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have become their “go-to” perfumer over the past 16 months, developing and delivering a bespoke niche scent project which has resulted in two unique signature scent.

 Inspired by the Country Road brand fused with the Australian landscape, these scents are now available within a collection of minimally packaged lifestyle products and used within all stores through ambient scent machines.

The fragrances, Linen and Driftwood, depict unique snapshots of Australian landscapes and scenes. They contain high-quality raw materials and, where possible, of Australian origin. The collection includes, in each scent, four luxury-sized candles in gorgeous white, textured ceramic vessels, hand cream, body lotion, body wash and hand lotion, in minimal stylish white packaging designed by the Country Road team.

Linen quickly became the signature scent with more than 50 stores using it as their inhouse scent through ambient scent machines for scent marketing purposes. The fragrance is fresh and full of quality essential oils and described on the packaging: Infused with macadamia flower, fresh mint and clean linen. Taking notes from the cool air of Tasmania, rounded with woody elements of boronia flower and a subtle hint of jasmine. The hand cream sold out in a matter of weeks in store and online and new stock is already in production.

Driftwood fragrance illustrates tension between warmth and fresh. In my first presentation to Country Road I described it to feel to me like warm whales on migration down the eastern coast – warm bodies gliding against the deep, dark, fresh rush of saltwater going past.On the packaging we describe it as: Crisp ocean air meets rich, warm notes of amber and driftwood. Inspired by the Eastern coastline, where the breeze from the sea rolls over the nearby hinterland.

The project commenced in late 2018 when I met with the Country Road development team regularly over the summer, in order to establish their needs and introduce them to unique Australian ingredients such as boronia, buddha wood and blue cypress.

I showed them mood boards with the visual direction for scent I recommended for the brand. At the time the idea was to create one signature scent for the brand to use instore through ambient scent machines and in products to sell. Things were set to change!

Eventually I presented 10 fragrances I had blended carefully to brief utilising raw materials I had sourced from Australia and around the globe.

Unfortunately, not all ingredients were available in Australia and sometimes the quality from overseas surpasses Australian oils, which are not generally extracted with the purpose of perfumery in mind.

Managing director for Country Road, the inspiring Elle Roseby, and the development team and myself gathered, in their Melbourne headquarters and sniffed through options. Immediately putting my nerves at rest, it became clear they loved many options with their squeals of delight.

We walked away from the meeting with THREE chosen.  The new strategy was to launch with two fragrances and save one for a later date. Out of the two, one would become the signature store scent.

Over the next months I was a very busy bee.

I spent my time up-scaling the fragrances to the quantities required, testing with skincare and candle manufacturers, writing back-of-pack copy, ordering and receiving raw materials, directing photoshoots and fittings with the Country Road PR team,  discussing names and dealing with legal requirements including ingredient listings.

I was burning candles around the clock to test burn time and efficiency of scent throw and fragrance profile and preparing my little factory in Marrickville for hand preparing the many kilograms of oil concentrate required.

Once the sample products were signed off and we were all happy with their performances, I hand blended and macerated the bulk oils and finally sent them off to the manufacturers in time for them to be mixed, poured and bottled.

Not long after they began to be sighted instore and online and are now core products in the lifestyle section of Country Road. Check out the range online here: https://www.countryroad.com.au/shop/home/scent

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