What Should I Talk About at Sniffapalooza?

For as long as I’ve been reading perfume blogs, I’ve been reading about Sniffapalooza. The name says it all: a festival of perfumes, both mainstream favorites and indie sensations, thronged by fume groupies gathering to experience their idols nose-to-bottle, and to commune with fellow fans. The very idea of hoards of huffers overrunning Bergdorf’s beauty floor sounds like nothing short of the perfume version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory -- crossed with the “Odessa Steps” scene in Battleship Potemkin. All those people mashing their nostrils on long pined-for perfumes en masse -- the specter is both thrilling and terrifying. Well, I’m joining in Sniffapalooza’s thrills and chills for the very first time at the upcoming Spring Fling in New York City April 10-11, and I’m already fuzzed up. For one, I get to leave my Boy in a Bubble existence of lonely smelling and writing about what I’m smelling, for a few days of real-life palling around with like-minded fumeheads. Secondly, I get to be in NYC, which I haven’t visited since there was a HoJo’s on Times Square selling martinis by the pitcher. Number three, I’ve been asked to address my fellow citizens of the Fumiverse at the Sniffa luncheon on Saturday the 10th. That all adds up to exactly two tons of fun. Possibly three. I do have a couple of questions, though: (a) Are any of you going to be there? (b) What should I talk about? Further to (b), I do have a general plan of action, but I want to make sure I include anything you all might have a burnin’ yearnin’ to know. I’ll be discussing my experience of being a fume pioneer in the wooly world of YouTube, where the hazing by 12-year-olds is...brutal, to say the least.

And I’ll address the impact of YouTube on the next generation of perfume connoisseurs, the challenges of communicating concepts in perfume criticism, and generational differences in perception of "good" and "bad" in fragrances.

If any of you have suggestions, impertinent or otherwise, for what you’d like me to discuss at Sniffapalooza, I beg of you to pipe up. I’d love to march up to the podium with a list of “10 Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know About Katie Puckrik Smells and Now Are Afraid to Hear”.

And further to (a), so really, are any of you going to be there? After all this virtual hanging out, I want to finally meet you. Also, I’ll need sniffing/cupcake-eating buddies.


  1. Unfortunately for me, I live on the other side of the world, so I can only fantasize of attending one in NY (I do wish I could). :)
    Whatever you end up talking about, I hope it will appear here as well.

  2. Hi Katie..my first post to you. Let me start by saying how much i LOVE watching and listening to your "vignettes". The best.
    On your talk: I think you should talk about what you know best, fume. Get out onto the streets of NY early and start sniffing. Report back to the ladies what you've discovered so they can go out and track it down themselves...It's all about the hunt.
    Also, may I suggest stopping in to Bond#9. I know, I know. everyone knows about it, but lordy some of those juices smell heavenly. Nuits de Noho is my fave..this week.
    I live in an urban part of a very rural state (Vermont) so I really rely heavily on reviews for purchases as we have no major department stores...(violins please)...but, I've managed to survive as a committed "fumehead". Thanks Kate.

  3. Yes, I will. Accompanied by my 17 year old son, which makes me recognizable, because in the years that I have attended, I've never seen another teenage boy. Caveat: he maintains his patience with the hoards of glazed-eyed perfumistas through the Bergies breakfast, but then he's off to do his own thing. Although he pops in and out of the various events to check in, sniff a bit and say hi.

    As for a topic, I like what you have suggested and I am also interested in what impact that you have had on the younger crowd. Especially the crowd that considers anything classic to be "old ladyish".

  4. hey Katie...break a leg. Wow..so excited for you. wish I could come. I will be in the middle of moving. You should talk about the amazing family you have brought together of like minded people that don't agree on everything but that they love scent. You are an amazing maven of force and humor. thank you for what you do and the amazing presence that you are.

  5. I've only been to one of these, but it seemed like the lunch speakers didn't have as much time as they thought and had to speed through/or got cut off at the end of their segment. Also, the crowd was kind of distracted by the ordering/eating and chatting with one another. A lot of people in a small space.

    None of this is a complaint, by the way. Just wanted to point it out from a planning perspective for a speaker.

    I had a ton of fun. . .but by lunch (on the first day!) my nose was burning so bad it felt like I had snorted Drano. No seriously, it was so so painful! But I persevered and kept sniffing away the whole weekend. That's a fumehead for you.

    My best advice is to either pace yourself or just ignore the pain and go nuts.

  6. Hey, maybe you could do a segment that addresses the "10 Perfumes You Thought Were Just for Teenagers" . . . because while I hear a lot of "that smells like old lady" from the younger crowd, I also hear the "that smells like a twelve year old's idea of perfume" from the older aficionados.

    So, with your experience dealing with the brutal teen crowd on YouTube, you could undoubtedly give the Sniffa group some insight on the sugary, fruity florals that are actually really good . . . ? ;)

  7. Jake, please keep an eye out for us! Maybe we can tip your mother into full-blown perfumista-hood together.

    Nathan, great idea! But wait! Didn't Katie start this idea with her post on Nez à Nez Bouche Baie the other day? And do you have any other sugary fruity floral delectables to add to the mix? :)

    Oh, and Katie, Dea has a good point. By lunchtime, people are pretty spaced out on all of the fragrance fumes too. But your wicked sense of humor should cut right through all of the chatter.

  8. I hope you'll be able to record your interactions at the front line; with individual sniffers "on the ground." I want to hear your chats with these folks and to watch you engage with and articulate the characteristics of individual frags. I see your MO as challenging yourself and others to be open to fragrances as an evocative experience -- not just a search for the "holy grail." Safe travels!

  9. Thank you thank you, everyone, for your suggestions, insights, and encouragement! You've given me some great points to explore. Well, "explore" sounds a tad leisurely,because I do have only 7 minutes or something, so I've gotta be zippy, quippy, and then get the heck off.

    The idea of being cut off is horrifying. What happens, dea? Is there a giant hook? A butterfly net? I'm going to request a butterfly net.

  10. Hi Katie,
    My first time posting here - I will be @ Sniffa and would love to meet you. I've been to 3 or 4 events so far - always a lot of fun.

  11. Hi anna and karen and all first time posters! anna, your situation of determinedly keeping abreast of the fume scene via the Internet while "stranded" in Vermont made me chuckle, because I realized that's exactly how my pen pal Dan keeps up with the fumiverse, and he's in San Fransisco! He's got Barneys, Saks, Cartier, Hermès, etc down the street, and he orders samples online like he's living in a yak skin tent on the tundra.

    Anna, with all those Sniffas under your belt, you're a veteran. Please be sure to mosey over to say "hi" when you see me. And that goes for all of you fumies who are attending.

  12. Hi Katie! Karen D and I are very excited that you will be joining us at Spring Fling! Many folks would love to hear your "story" - how you became interested in fragrance, and what led you to start Katie Puckrik Smells. Our luncheon venue, Opia, is a fabulous newly-renovated space with a great audio/visual capabilities. You can check it out here - http://www.opiarestaurant.com.
    And don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to speak to our welcoming group! We actually have four mother/son duo's, including Chandler Burr and his lovely mom, Nan!

  13. I'm so jealous of mothers coming with their sons. Mine is a committed fumehead but I haven't been able to convince him to come to Sniffa (although if he did, I'd definitely get stuck buying him a bottle of Creed, his fave) Looking forward to hearing Katie - love this blog for great reviews and that fabulously sharp sense of humor! See you next week!!!

  14. From my yak-skin tent in San Francisco (which ridiculously costs more than a mansion in most cities): I mostly keep up with the fumiverse online, Katie, because I'm a miserable customer in-person. I can't concentrate on what I'm smelling over all the enthusiastic sales pitches. I feel like Keith Partridge but instead of drawing hordes of women because of my long silky locks, it's because I might buy a bottle of perfume. Five minutes in Saks and I want to chuck perfume altogether. I want to chuck everything. Put plainly, the Internet keeps me alive. At least until I buy so many perfumes, I can't afford food. Seriously, a no-frills yak-skin tent in San Francisco? Deep debt. It's enough to crave Vermont.

    Possible Sniffapalooza topics: 1) Smelling over talking; 2) Keith Partridge and what he might smell like; 3) Saks and its contribution to existential dread; 4) Why "fumiverse" is not yet in the dictionary.

  15. I can't help but wonder when I watch perfume reviews and things like that...if you (or others) are getting any kind of revenue for your reviews of certain products. I can't imagine why you wouldn't, really. I guess as a former media studies major, I can't help but consider the commercial implications of Youtube and its potential as an advertising vehicle.

    Another topic...scent & identity. You often speak of "sex" and "sensuality" when connecting yourself to your scents. You may have mentioned this a few times in your reviews. So, I'm wondering about the connections between what we like to wear, in terms of fragrance and how we perceive ourselves or want others to perceive us. So, yeah...fragrance & identity...the overall message we send out with our choice of fragrance, etc...Some food for thought?

  16. Ha! You know, HTH, I think everyone wishes money came with their favorite obsessions, right? This topic of disclosure of compensation has come up on a couple of other blogs, and it seems to just make every blogger laugh and laugh. No one does this for the money. Seriously. No one. The ads one sees on the blogs is really the only revenue the bloggers get.

    I think there are indirect benefits, such as picking up writing gigs, or sometimes speaking gigs that are related to fragrances. But the perfume companies don't pay for reviews. I'm sure they wish they could pay a lot of bloggers to shut the hell up, if anything.

    Am I close to accurate, Katie?

  17. HTH, fragrance and identity is one of my favorite mulling-over topics. Are we amplifying ourselves with our choice of scent? Enhancing ourselves? Disguising ourselves? Fooling ourselves? My time at Sniffa is too short to get into that, but I do plan to explore that in an article at some point.

    Re your revenue query, YouTubers who are in YT's Partner Program share in a minuscule portion of the Google ad revenue on their videos. If you're huge YT star like WhatTheBuck or Panacea81, even the minuscule portion can add up. For the rest of us schmucks, it's an expensive hobby, with YT revenue counted in daily change.

    But in my case, I can affirm that "others" are certainly benefiting from my enthusing over exotic scents. Viewers regularly comment that they've purchased a certain perfume based on my reviews. So I guess perfume companies and etailers benefit from what I do.

    You are so correct that the commercial implications of YT are enormous. The tricky thing is for product reviewers to find a way to make a living doing what they do, while maintaining a credible detachment and lack of bias.

    The WineTV guy, Gary Vanderchuck, is a good example of maintaining cred while making a living, which is helped by the fact that he has a wine store that sells the wine he discusses.

    Similarly, Panacea81 has her own Sephora makeup line, but she still uses many different brands in her makeup tutorials. But she now has a book and a UK newspaper column and a TV slot, and is building a career beyond YouTube.

    All of those things are organic and reasonable. It starts to get dicey when, for instance, one of the teeny bopper beauty gurus starts plugging some random underarm deodorant you've never heard of. But still, as long as they reveal they're the hired spokesperson, it's "let the buyer beware".

  18. dea, I just saw your comment after I posted mine, and I'd say you're 100% on-the-nose accurate. And you addressed a point I somehow managed to miss - the idea that perfume companies might pay for a good review. That happens indirectly on magazines, of course: juicy ad revenue in exchange for some anodyne pap on the latest flanker of a flanker.

    But I think the perfume blog/vlog scene is too new and ornery invite that sort of mutual back-scratching. It's just as dea says: they'd sooner pay us to shut up. Which is ironic, because we all know that even the growliest, snarkiest review can inspire us to track down the fragrance in question. Either because of the level of the reviewer's repulsion, or because we can read between the lines and figure out it's something we'd like. Just look at me and Mona Di Orio Nuit Noir.

  19. Haha re the Mona di Orio!

    I don't have any more to add to these excellent suggestions, and am envious of all those going along to this year's Sniffa. One day, maybe... I know Britt Hovde Ross of Kristiansand New York is attending, and I imagine that teenage boys and very blonde Scandinavians may both cut a striking figure in their own ways. : - )

  20. Well I've gotta say that I really like Nuit Noire. I also met Nan, Chandler Burr's mother, when he was here (Atlanta) for a scent dinner I attended. We talked about perfume for a few minutes as he was packing up his supplies. She is beautiful, perfectly put together and as nice as can be. I wish I could make it to Sniffa but have out-of-town guests coming. Maybe fall. Have fun, y'all!

  21. Olfacta, you can have a mini-palooza with your guests, all crowded around your perfume collection.

    Haha, flittersniffer, it was specifically your repulsion made me track down Nuit Noir.

  22. Like Ines, I can only dream of snifflapoozling, or whatever it's called - but if anyone ever has one in London (*hint* *hint*) let me know. Though I must admit, with enough warning, I would actually consider zooming the zoom across the Atlantic!
    Have fun!

  23. Mia, I do appreciate the skills required to turn "Sniffapalooza" into a verb. Thanks for the well wishes!

  24. Good luck Katie - I know you'll be blinding. Not literally obviously.

    @Mia Vigar - Sniffapalooza came to London last year, and we've (Basenotes) done a few London-based fragrance based events.

  25. Thank you, Grant! I'll give your love to Chandler....

  26. Good luck Katie and have fun! I wish I could be there. I'm a first time poster, but I love your reviews. I only recently started exploring perfumes, so your analogies really make the experience lively. For years I thought I hated perfumes, but now I am addicted!!

    Maybe Mia and I will bump into you all in Les Senteurs sometime :)

  27. I was at Sniffapalooza and Katie was every bit as charming and witty as she is on camera. It was great fun hearing her talk about her first Sniffapalooza. i think we bonded as Sniffa "virgins" or maybe not. she was filming and recording and it should be great fun seeing what she chooses to post. Just a head's up she spoke at length to Chandler Burr and I thought it was a great interview.
    Katie it was a real pleasure to meet you.

  28. Melissa, so glad to hear my perfume wordplay has assisted in luring you down the rabbit hole.

    Miami Mark, it was a pleasure meeting you, too! It was indeed my first Sniffa, so it was good to meet up with fumies I already "knew" from the blogs.

    Hope to get my Sniffa interview up before tooooo long...at least before the next Sniffa rolls around...