Tired of cosmetics ads that smell like perfume? Well, brace yourself. By Christmas, you can expect to find packages exuding their contents' aroma, and not just perfume packages, either. We're talking about food packages. Imagine strolling through your supermarket with the hint of peanut butter and anchovies in the air.
The person to thank for this is Chella Luthy, president and CEO of Creative Environments Inc., who admits that her grand plan is "to fragrance everything in sight." She traces the origins of her scheme back to 1982, when she decided to go into the smell business as a hobby. On a vacation to her native Ecuador, she picked up oils and herbs to make potpourri, which she then sold through Lord & Taylor, Macy's, and Bonwit Teller.
Looking for ways to improve her product and prolong its scent, Luthy approached $640-million International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., where she was shown a sample of a scented polymer produced by a patented technology. She proceeded to license the technology in return for royalties on all products she developed. After months of experimenting in her kitchen, she began incorporating polymer chunks in her potpourri. She also created an electric home fragrancer. And last year, after raising $500,000 from private investors, she came out with the technology's first stand-alone application, a seal on Charles-of-the-Ritz perfume.
With a plant in Houston, a board that includes former Citicorp senior vice-president Roy Dickerson, and marketing help from ex-Bonwit Teller president Helen Galland, $2-million Creative Environments does in fact seem poised to stink up the world. Its products include a paste for fishing lures that smells like squid once in water, and a procedure for printing scented polymer on a newspaper page. This month, it will begin manufacturing the Gloria Vanderbilt line of home fragrances.
Then, of course, there's the aromatic packaging. Luthy won't disclose the products we'll be smelling, saying only that her clients are "the biggest cosmetics and food companies in the business." She does offer this reassurance, however: "You won't be able to smell it unless you're within two feet of the label." -- Leslie Brokaw