How I Make It Work: Treena Nixon Of Miller Road Fragrances
The founder and in-house perfumer shares her secrets to scent success (and the tech that makes business a breeze)
There's no denying we’re a nation intrigued by entrepreneurialism. Perhaps it’s the ingrained notion of 'Kiwi ingenuity' belonging to each and every one of us, but more now than ever our interest in “being our own boss” is piqued.
The pandemic has certainly helped this conviction on its way, with many reassessing their work situation, thinking “if this is it, is this where I really want to be?”
Everyone loves a successful start-up story, and beyond that, understanding the ways in which these entrepreneurs and creatives keep their businesses ticking along, especially while working remotely.
Enter Treena Nixon, the founder and in-house perfumer at Miller Road Fragrances.
Formally trained in interior design, Treena quickly came to understand the synergy between the home and fragrance, and the way in which it adds an extra dimension to interiors.
“Your sense of smell triggers so many emotions that you can create a different feel for the different spaces in your home,” Treena says. “You might like something fresh and energising like citrus in your bathroom to start your day, then something relaxing at night in your bedroom like lavender.”
After dabbling in wholesale candle-making in her home kitchen under the Miller Road name, Treena decided she wanted to learn perfumery. She enrolled in the Grasse Institute of Perfumery, and lived in a French village while she trained.
“Walking to class my sense of smell was so heightened from studying that the flowers on the side of the road were so fragrant they seemed to jump out at me!” she recounts. “Also making fragrance alongside the best perfumers in the world was so inspiring. Jean Claude Elena came to the institute when I was there — he is such a famous perfumer. There were so many 'pinch me' moments while I was there and, of course, lots of Rosé and cheese platters!”
Upon her return to New Zealand in 2018, Treena spotted a retail space in Devonport that was up for lease. And so, the retail arm of Miller Road Fragrances was born.
Unique to the brand is its fragrance workshops, during which participants learn how to compose their own signature scent. Recently, I was lucky enough to attend one of these workshops via Zoom, and discovered exactly why they sell out months in advance.
“I think our workshops are so popular because it’s such an amazing and unique experience to spend a few hours out of your daily life to just focus on smelling materials that evoke memories and emotions,” Treena says. “It gives people the ability to create something bespoke that only they will have! We keep our client’s formulas on file so we can remake them another bottle when they run out.”
It was during this session that I came to understand two things — the first, how fragrance composition is much like chemistry, and the second — how HP+, HP’s smartest printing system to date, helps streamline Treena’s creative process from anywhere in the country.
Designed with consumers and small businesses in mind, HP+ is a new cloud-based ecosystem that promises to make printing more secure, productive and sustainable than ever before — blending the virtual and physical worlds by way of a smart app that can be used to print things to your studio or home office from anywhere, at any time.
Our fragrance kit contained sample-sized vials of fragrance oils that were designed to be blended together to create a signature scent with top, heart and base accords.
Treena took care to explain exactly how fragrance notes work. “The first thing you smell is the top notes, they are generally what attracts you to a fragrance but they consist of lots of small molecules like citrus notes that don’t last very long. These small molecules disappear after about 30 minutes. Then you notice the heart notes, which are the main character of the fragrance (mainly floral) for the next two to four hours. Finally, you are left with the base notes that form the foundation of your fragrance, namely woods, resins and musk. They are much bigger molecules so they are the ones that last the distance,” Treena says.
Armed with that knowledge, we took to mixing our bespoke HP+ paper-inspired scent. This is when the second revelation came; just how important it is to write everything down on a formula sheet, as printed by Treena’s HP+ printer.
“The number one rule is to write everything down,” Treena heeds. “You can make the best perfume ever but you won’t be able to replicate it if you don’t have everything documented.”
The secret to making business better, Treena explains printing is and has always been an integral part of her business and creative process when it comes to developing new scents.
“A key part of developing a fragrance is working out which materials work together, and there is a lot of collaboration and experimentation during the development phase of a new scent,” Treena says.
“As part of this creative process, we print formula sheets for all the new fragrances we develop because we need a physical copy beside us as we’re making them. There can be up to a hundred different materials that go into one fragrance and it’s impossible to remember all the materials without having it physically printed!”
Not a time to rely on memory, Treena explains the need for having formula sheets at the ready to follow each scent formula with total accuracy and note down any adjustments that need to be made. During workshops, Treena offers formula sheets so guests can record how many drops of each oil they add to their fragrance so it can be made again.
More than that, the Miller Road Fragrances team make personalised labels for everyone’s perfumes during their workshops, further stressing the importance of working with a printer that is reliable and doesn’t run out of ink.
As such, Treena has set up an HP Instant Ink print subscription (a world-first for the brand), which ensures cartridges are never empty. Treena received a six-month trial of HP Instant Ink when she signed up for HP+ and has loved it ever since. The HP+ printer detects when it is running low on ink, and instantly orders more ink that will be delivered to your door. Each delivery includes a pre-paid postage envelope so empty cartridges can be sent back and recycled via HP’s zero-waste to landfill cartridge recycling program.
My finished product, in a bottle labelled ‘Ash’, was a spicy blend of woody notes, sweetened up with a touch of vanilla.
The formula sheet read like this:
- 25 drops Woody
- 25 drops Cologne
- 10 drops Ambroxan (what Treena calls her “sexy man” scent)
- 10 drops Iso E Super
- 10 drops Cassis
- 15 drops Vanillin
Expansion plans are on the horizon for Miller Road Fragrances, with the team currently in the process of opening a second store in Queenstown. The venture has only been made more difficult with Auckland’s two-month lockdown, but Treena says utilising HP+ tech has made keeping in touch with her team much easier.
“Having the ability to collaborate and create with my team anywhere I am helps drive productivity. The HP+ Smart Printing App also gives me peace of mind that no matter where I print from, my documents will be safe and secure,” she says, referring to HP+’s robust automatic security updates, which prevent malware attacks.
“Being able to share important formula sheets and business documents with my team no matter where I am has been a game-changer. It gives me reassurance that even if I’m travelling, nothing is delayed and we can stay on top of our creative process and business operations in both stores.”
Print from anywhere, at any time, HP+ is Treena’s secret weapon when it comes to achieving scent success.
Upgrade to a HP+ printer today and get a six-month trial of HP Instant Ink subscription. For more information, visit Hp.co.nz/plus.
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