The Joy of Scent

“Stephanie, remember to always stop and smell the roses. Most people just walk on by, but you know they are missing out, aren’t they?”


I’ll never forget those words (or the aromas) as I bounded through my neighbor’s garden in Northern California when I was eight. Those rose bush moments stuck with me (pun intended) me all the way to today as I prepare to launch my new line of fragrance forward, mixable bath product line called Dabble & Dollop.

As I did then, I still feel happiness, love, and alive experiencing such simple olfactory pleasures, especially that of a rose. In case anyone is wondering, my favorite Rose fragrance is by far, Jo Malone’s. It smells just like fresh cut roses. And I wear it when I want to feel the emotions that I’ve associated with it.


We know that a fragrance tells a story, inspires and sparks the most primal of our instincts and brings precious memories back to life. Perhaps you walk by an ice cream shop just as the door is opening up, and the sweetest smell of vanilla and waffle cones billow out into the street. What does that remind you of? Perhaps it reminds you that you’d like an ice cream, but for others the aroma may bring them back to their childhood home’s kitchen, mom baking delicious desserts, and the sweet smell of warm vanilla not only took over the home, but took over your heart. Vanilla makes me think about the comfort and warmth of those childhood memories. That’s why I like to roll a little vanilla on to my children’s wrists & necks when they are going somewhere special. In case you are curious which product I use, my favorite product is LaVanilla’s Pure Vanilla.


So, when it came time to design and select fragrances for Dabble & Dollop, I knew I had to get these notes just right for the children, and for their parents. We decided to use the data from our 96-family study which clearly showed our Vanilla, Tangerine & Strawberry were the child and parent favorites.

I knew that Vanilla, the most popular ice cream flavor in the US, had to be in the mix. I understood that vanilla would have the ability to warm hearts and imprint memories associated with comfort and warmth. And it was no surprise to me that our Vanilla tested the best during our consumer study. What was surprising to me, though, is that there are no other pure vanilla children’s products on the market.

What else do we know children love? Well, I for one have never met a little one that doesn’t love an afternoon snack of clementines, tangerines or orange Cuties. Cuties are the favorite in our house, and constantly stocked at our local Gelson’s around the corner. We had to find a way to bottle that juicy tang and make the aroma mimic the precise moment you peel your tangerine. We can all connect to the anticipation and smiles associated with peeling a perfect tangerine.


And Strawberries – our family’s favorite, consistently in the top 5 in America and drives significant piece of my home state of California’s agricultural output. And who can argue? Their wondrous red color and gorgeous seed patterns, it’s sometimes hard to believe this sweetness came from Mother Nature. Perhaps the sweetest gift we’re given is the smell of summer strawberry. I make a lot of strawberry shortcakes for my children, and they love to watch me cut the fresh strawberries, sticking their noses in the bowl to catch the sweet aroma.

Now, let’s consider mixing a little. What do you think goes best with my strawberry shortcake – a dollop of vanilla whipped cream, of course! And what do you get when you mix tangerine with vanilla – a creamsicle, or an orange Julius, another favorite childhood treat! Since Dabble & Dollop is all about mixing our products so children can design their own shampoo, bodywash or bubble bath, we wanted to start with three fragrances that we know children feel connected to and adore, and that parents also love.


But the story of fragrance is not all roses, especially looking at trends in the cosmetics and bath space. Fragrance has developed a reputation for irritating hyper sensitive skin and in some studies, as many as 30% of Americans find strong scents on others bothersome. In fact, I have a friend who travels frequently and will literally get off the plane if he smells patchouli. While we don’t see a patchouli bath anytime soon, we understand the concern.

But as we contemplated fragrance for our products, we realized there are so many people who LOVE fragrance in the bath, especially considering the aroma that remains post-rinse is so wonderfully subtle. In this posting, I want to share our decision to choose designer natural-hybrid fragrances. Unfortunately, even in 2019, nature alone does not allow us to bottle her lovely aromas.  While we did use essential oils in each of our fragrances, they were creatively and expertly married to other nature-identical/synthetic notes to help stabilize the exact aroma hoped to achieve.  It had to smell like warm vanilla, a peeled  orange, and like a freshly cut bowl of strawberries.  We achieved that using essential oils, but also leveraged the technology necessary to make sure our fragrances were completely stable and hypoallergenic.  We also were able to use less than 1% in each formulation, greatly improving the overall mildness of the products.

Sadly, 1% of children suffer from skin diseases like psoriasis.  And typically, doctors will advise those children to avoid using any product with fragrance or essential oils, as both fragrance and essential oils may further exacerbate their skin issues.  Knowing this, I wish I could’ve created a fragrance-essential oil-free version of Dabble & Dollop, so that those kids can still enjoy the mixing concept.  I still think about how we might be able to create something for these uber sensitive-skin children.

At the same time that I am finishing this article, we are working on our next aromas - Coconut, Melon, Blueberry and Lemon.  The lab smells heavenly!   Inspiration is all around me.  My mind is drifting as the coconut takes me back to childhood beach days when my sunscreen smelled like coconut.  For my kids, it reminds them of that time they got to drink out of a real coconut in Hawaii.

Bottling up these magical memories has been an enjoyable and one of the most critical parts to Dabble & Dollop’s launch and story.  If we get this right- fast forward 30 years, your children will take in a smell of vanilla, strawberry or tangerine and recall those fun, warm bubble baths where precious memories were made, imprinted by fragrance and made possible by Mom and Dad giving an intentional gift -  a more meaningful bath.