Posts Tagged ‘manager’

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Describing Scent workshop at Les Senteurs. (review)

April 15, 2012

On a bright Saturday lunchtime in April, Toby and I headed to Marble Arch to attend Les Senteurs‘ “Describing Scent” workshop, hosted by my good friend Nick (who also happens to be the Store Manager of the Les Senteurs store on Seymour Place). We arrived and as the shop starting filling up with attendees, we made our way downstairs to be greeted by a large table, laid out with place settings which each had a slice of orange on a neon plate, a loop of string, a coin, a rubber band and a glass with ice. The dozen of us seated ourselves, introduced ourselves to the group (among us was a florist, a composer, a student of fashion journalism, a mathematician, a chemist, and the rest of us who were also fans of perfume via various avenues) and then Nick proceeded to explain the purpose of the workshop. Part of it would be smelling scents (starting with the objects on the table, and then followed by a range of perfumes passed around the room on blotters) and experiencing fragrances mostly stocked by Les Senteurs. But the real point, as hinted at in the name of the workshop, would be to describe the fragrance. Not only in terms of smell, but in terms of taste, colour, light, shadow, temperature, textures, shape, sound, the kind of place it evoked and so on. It’s extremely difficult to describe a scent effectively using only the limited vocabulary of adjectives normally ascribed to smell – scents are intangible, and so they evoke a range of images, sounds (interestingly, “notes” and “accords” are used in the language of perfumery), textures and emotions in each of us.

As we proceeded through the objects on the table, and then onto the eight fragrances, we discussed how each of them made us feel, and what they evoked in us. Nick guided us through each of the perfumes, which we firstly smelled ‘blind’ (i.e. not knowing anything about the fragrance – neither its name, nor the brand behind it) and then were tasked with describing as fully and accurately as possible. It was a comfortable environment for us to be honest and unguarded about what the perfume evoked, as we were all passionate about fragrance and we all understood that perfume is personal to each of us. Nick would eventually reveal the perfume’s name and brand, composition and concept. It was intriguing to see what notes each of us picked up (which frequently included ingredients not listed in the perfume’s composition), and how different our own thoughts were from others’. For example, Toby’s scientific knowledge was able to explain various smells and associations in a way that was completely beyond me, but at the same time I made other connections for different reasons. Moving through fragrances by Creed, Parfumerie Générale, Heeley and others, we exposed the different connections and our own varying preferences between a range of scents. But whatever we preferred, be it niche or “high street”; leathery or floral; warm and introverted or cool and expansive – this workshop worked because we were all passionate about fragrance, and because Nick facilitated the workshop in such a way that we all felt comfortable to express ourselves.

At the end of the session, we all filled out a feedback form which asked some intriguing questions – among which were:

  • “Is this kind of event something you would talk to your friends about” (evidently so!);
  • “What is most important to you in a perfume?” (for me, a fragrance has to smell beautiful, but also different to everything else in my collection, so that it complements one of my moods. I am far too fickle / moody to have a ‘signature’ fragrance that would suit me every day, day in and day out! I also think that it’s important that the fragrance has a well-chosen name and attractive bottle, as these are the things that will initially attract me towards trying it out.); and
  • “Are there any events you would like to see that haven’t been suggested already?” (I feel that I would love to attend workshops that would each focus on ‘classic perfumes’ – such as Joy, Chanel No. 5, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Poison and Opium).

I can’t recommend the Les Senteurs workshops highly enough for anyone even slightly curious about perfume beyond the Superdrug counter (for their list of events, please click here). Toby and I both had an excellent time, and it was both luxurious being able to spend an afternoon smelling such wonderful scents, and intellectually stimulating being challenged to describe them and contemplate how others react to fragrance. At the end of the day, there are few rights and wrongs in one’s experience of perfume, and this workshop served to underline how intangible and thus personal fragrance can be.

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friendship never ends.

April 7, 2010

I just wanted to write a quick blog, inspired largely by the lovely day I’ve had today.  Mike & I (along with his son Billy) spent the day going around Broadmead & Cabot Circus shopping, looking for presents for his wife (whose birthday it is tomorrow) and basically just spending time together.  I got to push Billy in his pushchair, help Mike pick out jewellery, and I didn’t even spend money on myself!  Mike very kindly bought me a bottle of Touch by Grigio Perla, which he really didn’t need to do – but then I bought him True Blood season 1 on DVD a few weeks ago for the same reason, to thank him for being such a good friend to me.  I appreciate his friendship, and apart from the course making such a difference in my job prospects and optimism, his friendship has been an amazing thing that has transformed my life and changed who I am.  Just as if I hadn’t done the course, I wouldn’t have met Toby (nor some new friends that I’ve made, both on my course and through twitter 🙂 ), I possibly wouldn’t have had the impetus to start learning to drive again, I wouldn’t have gotten the tattoos that I now have… taking the Careers Guidance course has transformed my life in ways I couldn’t have foreseen, and in ways I truly deserve.  I don’t believe in god, but it does seem like fate, like things have finally slotted into place.  I’m so happy.

For the first time in 10 months, probably, I went into the Perfume Shop.  Walking past with Mike & Billy, I gauged who was in there, and seeing Henna, Ebony and Liz (i.e. none of the people whom I really don’t want to see again), I thought I’d pop in and see how everyone was.  It was interesting to see how their lives have changed, but they have effectively stayed in the same place (though the shop does look more vibrant and full of stock compared to how it was a year ago when I was working there) whereas my life has changed so much and I’ve moved on.  Ebony was telling me her experiences as deputy manager (my old role), and it rang so true for me (a lot of similar issues with the manager to what I had, interestingly!) .  I hope she can escape soon, because she’s an intelligent young woman who can do so much better for herself rather than working herself to the bone in retail for not enough reward.  Even down to the fact that I had to explain that Billy was not my child (I haven’t given birth to a 3 year old in the last 11 months), Mike was not my boyfriend (everyone whom I came into that shop with during my time there, regardless of gender, age or anything else, was my potential sleeping partner according to them – that’s an accurate indication of how much the shop consumes your life to push out almost anything else), and that I was happy working at the hospital and studying on my course. Ebony and Liz were chatting a lot, and we really need to catch up with a coffee to exchange full stories.  But it was nice to se that after everything that had happened since I left, and despite the fact that I will very rarely go into that shop again because I have no desire to ever see certain people who work there again, I still have some friends there.  It won’t be the same, but it was a surprisingly pleasant experience to reconnect with those people, and I feel now that those friendships I cultivated during the time I worked there may not go to waste after all.  Time will tell.

In life, I’ve made some really good friends.  Sometimes we drift apart for a season, other times we remain close no matter what happens, but friendships are things that I truly cherish.  In the past, I’ve been really let down and disappointed by people, but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned lessons and that disappointment occurs a lot less nowadays.  Perhaps I’m just a better judge of character, but life isn’t a popularity contest – I feel lucky and happy to have the friends around me whom I have, and I pray that they never go away because they make me a better person, they teach me things about myself, about themselves and about the world which make me a more valuable, wiser person or it.  Thankyou all 🙂

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xx.

September 10, 2009

Bear with me, hold on tight, make yourself comfortable and spark up or pour yourself a drink or grab a Haagen Daaz or whatever your preferred method of relaxation is. This might take a while.

Last Wednesday I bumped into my friend Ebony, whom I hadn’t seen in a quite a while, and whom various colleagues of mine while I worked at the Perfume Shop had tried to contact only to no avail.  I had realised that she must have changed her number or had some kind of phone dilemma, because she isn’t the kind of person just to suddenly blank you.  So when I bumped into her, she explained that her bag (containing her phone, among other things) had been stolen a few months ago, and she had a new phone with a new number, but had lost her old numbers.  We swapped digits, discussed the shop, what she’d been up to since finishing uni and what I’d been up to since leaving TPS and starting my new job at the hospital.  I mentioned that one of my colleagues at the shop had been upset that Ebony hadn’t been in touch, so she promised that she would go in.

Today she visited, and apparently they had some interesting things to say about me.  I found this out via a text Ebony sent me this afternoon, asking me whether “certain things she had heard” were true.  I asked what “things” they had said. Apparently, I had “left under a cloud”, and once I had left, I had returned a couple of times to visit, and had “admitted to taking from the shop”.

Apart from a big “LOL WTF?”, I replied that none of this was true.  The only thing I had “taken from the shop” was a free Armani bag, which was a year-old Gift With Purchase (i.e. a free gift you get when you buy a Giorgio Armani men’s fragrance, that has no monetary value and once the offer expires, is free to be given away with any purchase at the sales assistant’s discretion, in order to drive sales).  I had originally got this Armani bag as a GWP myself, buying a limited edition bottle of Emporio Armani He in the summer of 2008.  Eventually, the faux-leather front flap of the bag started to peel, and it looked quite shabby.  After being overworked and underpaid by the shop, and with there being a fair amount of tension between myself and the manager (due to changing rules to specifically prevent me from attending interviews, among other things), I felt that the least the shop owed me was a free bag to replace the one I had which was falling apart.  So I took it.  A free bag.  And back in July, I popped into the shop and my ‘friend’ H who still works there asked me where I got the bag from.  I didn’t see the point in lying (after all, these freebies were and are given away to staff all the time as incentives / rewards) so I said it was from downstairs – in retrospect, more fool me.  Despite the fact that the bag is not worth anything, despite the fact that these gifts get given to staff all the time, and despite the fact I had given various colleagues similar expired GWPs as rewards, this was “scandalous”.  I didn’t understand why it was a big deal, and I was shocked at the reaction, so I asked H not to say anything.  However, H was there with S, who is (to be blunt) all mouth and no brain.

So today, receiving the news that the shop thought I had stolen things (stock had been going missing both before and since I left, and the people who still work there are being investigated – I guess I was an easy person to blame, despite the fact I never stole ANYTHING – I did the majority of stockchecks so why would I put so much effort into counting endless boxes of perfume if I were the thief?) was a surprise.  Not because I didn’t think that this could happen – I know people better than that, and having a mini nervous breakdown at the start of this week was largely caused by losing faith in people’s perception of me.  But because I didn’t think that it would.  After how hard I worked at that shop, after managing it for 3 months by myself, after giving S’s daughter a Christmas present and being such a good friend to them all – they honestly think that I could be such a thief?  It’s disappointing.  And it’s hilarious that I took the bag in March. I told them in July.  It’s now September, and they’re still talking about it?  News must be slow and life must be dull for them.

I explained this to Ebony (who thought the whole thing was ridiculous and kinda dumb), along with a similar story where after Kulthum (another nice colleague of mine from the shop, who left last autumn for a new job) left the shop after not being able to work her full notice, my manager told me that Kulthum had “admitted to stealing money from the shop”.  In light of the false accusations that have been levelled at me, I doubt very much that this is true.  My manager told me not to tell anyone, and the difference is that unlike H and S who have seen fit to escalate the fact that I took a freebie into suspicion that I stole full bottles of fragrance and maybe even more, I never told anyone what she had told me about Kulthum.  Ebony made a very good point that if you steal money or stock from a shop and you are found out (whether you confess or otherwise), it’s gross misconduct and you are sacked that day; nobody lets you serve out half of your notice first.  I feel a little silly for even entertaining the rumour, although part of me never believed it and I kept up my friendship with Kulthum nevertheless – after all, she was never nasty to me and it was none of my business whether she took anything from the shop or not – the shop isn’t my baby, my family nor my be all and end all.  Rumours about other past employees have come and gone, but I never really broke contact with anyone I got on with because of these rumours – I am able to keep my mouth shut and I prefer to judge people on their own merits.  It’s just sad that not everybody does that.

I enjoy gossip like everyone else. But the sad thing is gossiping at someone’s expense, accusing them of things that are totally untrue. I am quite confident Kulthum never took the money – regardless, I never told anyone that she had been accused of it.  I never took anything from the shop other than that free bag. If they want to say that they think I did, because it’s easier to backstab me and accuse me now that I’m gone and can’t defend myself rather than face the fact that whoever the thief is, she’s still in the store. I’m no liar, I’m no gossiper, and I’m no thief.  I know that.  I have no intention of going in there and clearing things up – they should know me better from the year and a half I worked my butt off there and was a friend to every one of them.  They don’t.  Let them talk about me and perpetuate untruths if that’s what it takes to make their days more interesting.  It’s sad, and disappointing.

Hannah and my mother (who has been in a very similar situation herself) both said that this is one of the dangers of working with girls.  I don’t necessarily agree, as I get on with a lot of women, and everyone has the facility to be bitchy.  But a group of xx chromosomes can definitely be dangerous, and they can double cross (“x x” – see what I did there? Not just a pretty face!)… it’s whatever to me.  I have a new job, a better job (more money, more responsibility & more professionalism with less silly rules!), working with adults (men & women) rather than gossipy young kids who take 1 + 1 and get 1000.  If I see them in the street, I will rise above it and say hello with a smile on my face, as if nothing were wrong.  Because I have done nothing wrong.  But they’ll never be my friends again – the person they seem to think I am or want to portray me as is nothing like who I actually am.  They should have known better. And I should have known better than to trust that they wouldn’t double cross me once I was out the door.  Not a lesson learned, but a lesson reiterated… And we rise above!  Kisses to the haters… xx again. 😉

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dream (f/ Thore Schölermann & Brazil)

August 25, 2009

This is sort of becoming a dream blog!  This last week I have had so many vivid dreams, I feel almost privileged.  I have been all around Europe (France, Russia, Spain, Italy) and now I have visited a country I was praising only last week – Brazil!  These dream holidays are a lot cheaper than the real thing too 😉 It’s been a while since anyone plotted to kidnap or kill me (a usual fixture of my dreams), and in this one I have another hot boyfriend.

I was in a tropical forest atmosphere.  Me and my parents were on holiday in Brazil (I presume it was Brazil) and I was walking through the forest by myself.  There was beautiful scenery and a warm breeze was caressing my skin.  I found my boyfriend Thore Schölermann (HOT German soap actor from Verbotene Liebe, he plays Christian *sigh*… if I ever had a bf as hot in real life as I do in my dreams, I will be very lucky!) and we walked through the forest talking and being intimate occasionally kissing etc.  We sat on a grassy slope and ended up talking and lying together for ‘hours’.

Here are some pictures of what he looks like:

Then I went back to this hut which was a restaurant, and my parents were sat there with some random teenagers, and we were all preparing to have dinner.  I remember there being a little bit of an atmosphere between me and my parents, and I sat at the table and there was this small black bowl with a spoon.  Inside the bowl, there were slices of miniature kiwi with this white scoop of ice cream, but I don’t think it was ice cream.  I began to eat it, when my mother told me that I was eating it wrong – instead of eating with the bowl on the table, you had to put your knees up on the sofa and scrunch up, rest the bowl on your knees (apparently the bowl was “specially designed” for this) and eat it there.  I don’t know why, but this was the last straw for me and I slammed the bowl down on the table and stalked off.  I went back into the forest to try and find Thore, but I don’t think I did (it’s all a bit hazy now), and I realised I had left my phone on the dining table so I went back to the hut and walked around the outside watching my parents interacting with the teenagers.  My mum was complaining about how dramatic and sulky I was, and the teenagers were laughing.  I was upset at what my parents thought of me, but I knew I had to get my phone back, so I sucked it up, walked in the other end of the restaurant, circled the table and plucked the phone out from between the empty bowls.  My mother and the teenagers ignored me as if I weren’t there.

The next thing I remember was that we were at home, and me and my father were having another argument – I don’t even remember about what.  We ended up not speaking to one another and then I logged onto my laptop, and started reading his work emails.  We ended up communicating to each other via email, and we sorted it out.   I realised via his work emails that him and his colleagues would discuss their families, and although again I was described as “temperamental and moody”, I was also “the clever one”, so it wasn’t all bad.  I also found out that the reason why my dad sometimes got stressed was because he had to work until gone 8pm every night, except for on a Friday when he could finish at 6:45.  He had no chance of becoming a manager, whilst his colleagues didn’t have to work so many hours and a couple of them were being promoted.  I remember feeling bad for him as he must have been frustrated, so I resolved to try and be a little more patient before having arguments.  There was other stuff, but I don’t remember it (and I don’t think there was any more Thore 😦 ).