Fragrance oils are one of the first items we sold when Bramble Berry opened in 1999. Founder and CEO Anne-Marie started the business after an unsuccessful career as a correctional officer. She's been making soap since she was 16 and selling it since she was 18.
One of Anne-Marie's favorite ways to customize soap is with fragrance oils, so she knew they had to be part of Bramble Berry's product line. She called a vendor and spoke to a customer service representative also named Anne-Marie. Normally, they require a 25-pound minimum order, but Anne-Marie was able to order 5 pounds.
"I definitely got lucky," she said. "We still use that vendor to this day."
She got a few fragrance oils, including ones we still carry today - Energy, Oatmeal Milk and Honey, Dark Rich Chocolate, and Vanilla Select. When they arrived, Anne-Marie tested them in cold process soap to check for discoloration, acceleration, ricing, etc.
"Performance was one of the most important things to me," she said.
Anne-Marie then took the soap to craft fairs. To make ends meet, she was driving all over Washington and Oregon to sell soap on the weekend. She collected feedback from people, including which fragrances they liked and how strong they were. As the business grew, we were able to order 25 pounds of fragrance oil and add more options to the website.
We now have more than 200 fragrance oils to choose from. The process of bringing them in has changed over the years. First, Anne-Marie and the marketing and product development teams brainstorm collections for the year. We ask vendors to create fragrances based on those collections and share them with us. The team smells each one and picks their favorites - we're looking for strong, unique fragrances that fit well with the themes. The fragrances then go to product development for testing.
Performance is still our main concern. If everyone loves a fragrance but it rices, it's out. The product development team tests hundreds of fragrances a year but only a few make it onto the website. We want to make sure they're easy to use, they're high quality, and they smell great after 6 weeks of curing. We require our fragrance oils to be phthalate free, and they’re paraben free too!
The process is quite thorough, but for us it's essential. We want to ensure the fragrances work well for our customers so they can focus on the fun part - making DIY bath and body products.
What's your favorite fragrance oil? Share using #BrambleOn.