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Perfect Perfume for Perfect Gift Giving at Essense

Kathi Caldwell-Hopper - November 29, 2012

“Perfume is the most intense form of the memory.” — Jean-Paul Guerlain

Maybe it is the unexpected yet stylish purple barn doors. Maybe it is the country setting or the beautiful sign tucked among the trees on the edge of the front lawn that announced Essense has come to the Lakes Region. Whatever draws customers to this new and oh so stylish perfumery, visiting Essense is definitely worth it.

Located on Waukewan Road in Meredith, Essense Parfumerie is unlike any shop one would find in the area. Owner Tamsan Therin moved her thriving perfumery business from Martha’s Vineyard to Meredith this past summer and the move was quite a project.

“I shipped over 500 antique apothecary bottles and other supplies,” she recalls with a laugh. “It wasn’t an easy move.”

Why, might one ask, would Tamsan move a business that experienced such long-term success, over 20 years on Martha’s Vineyard to NH, knowing the expense and hassle of moving all the equipment and her home’s furnishings?

“My parents live in NH and I wanted to be closer to them,” Tamsan explains. “And living in a historic home was always my dream.”

Tamsan realized the dream after searching all over the eastern United States for that perfect home. She had almost settled on an old property in Georgia when she discovered the Meredith, NH 1796 Moses Smith historic farmhouse in the country setting. The property is called Rock Ridge Farm and in summer, it will offer gardens and rolling green fields.

One of the things that makes the farmhouse so perfect is the huge – with an emphasis on huge – barn. The space will allow Tamsan to operate her perfumery and also a tearoom next summer.

“In the summer, I will have couches in the barn space and relaxing music playing. People can sit and enjoy tea and music with friends,” she says.

And of course, the added attraction will be Essense, the perfumery where visitors can experience making their own signature perfumes, designed as they sit at the perfume bar with Tamsan.

It’s a totally unique concept but it has worked well on Martha’s Vineyard and Tamsan is confident it will appeal to Lakes Regioners and vacationers as well. In a cozy and newly constructed room in the heated barn, guests take seats at a huge and beautiful antique wooden “bar” Tamsan had moved from Cape Cod. “The bar was originally in an oceanside tavern; it is 16 feet and solid mahogany,” she says.

The space also offers row upon row of antique apothecary jars with chic labels hand lettered by Tamsan, creating a space that looks part upscale chemistry lab, part mod bar and part just plain fun.

A large mirror matching the wood and design of the bar fills a wall in back of the bar and further adds to the chic and antiquey atmosphere of the perfumery.

Tamsan starts a visit with a customer by asking lots of questions to garner the person’s scent profile. “Fragrances express personality,” she explains. “I ask people what smells they like, what memories they associate with certain smells and what mood the smells evoke.

“For example, one person might say their favorite smell is roses because it reminds them of their grandmother’s perfume. Another person might say roses are their least favorite smell because it reminds them of a grandmother that they might not have been particularly fond of.”

Smells evoke moods whether happy, sunny, sexy or spicy, to name but a few. Once Tamsan has a feel for what her customer is like and the smells and emotions they like and dislike, she starts to bring down select apothecary jars of scented pure perfume oils from over 500 available scents.

She might offer a whiff of Italian Blood Orange or Jasmine Tea or China Rain, to name but a very few of the many scents on the perfumery shelves. If the customer reacts positively to a scent, she offers still more possible scents and then dabs a drop of each oil on the person’s forearm, mixing the oils together.

Once the customer smells the oils on their skin, they will know if the combination is what they like. If it is, Tamsan will proceed to mix the oils into a small vial of essential oil, which requires only a dab when using and will last for over three years.

If the customer wishes, they may have Tamsan mix the oils into a lotion for smoothing and moisturizing the skin.

“My personal favorite scent is a tree sap,” she comments. While that may sound like an odd scent, guests should expect the unexpected at Essense. The sap oil scent is delightful and certainly not overpowering. Other scents that appeal are Sugar Kiss, Plum Blossom and Forest Rain, only a few of the hundreds of available scents.

Part of the fun is choosing scented oils and mixing them in new ways to create an original scent that reflects one’s personality.

“Perfumes are created just for the customer and are a sort of ‘sensory signature.’ The essences themselves have such an array of personalities that the combinations are almost infinite. This form of expression, just like art, clothing or decorating, allows you to express and enhance your unique personality and vision,” Tamsan says.

“I have a master’s degree in social science and the perfumery was a hobby,” Tamsan says. “I have an aromatherapy certification as well. When I started the business, one thing about it that appealed to me was knowing I could do the perfumery and be at home to raise my daughter.”

Tamsan says many people have lost the simple pleasure of a remembered scent and the memories it might evoke. “People come to the perfumery and leave here happy. It’s a very simple, but long-lasting way to add joy.”

Essense will be offering perfume parties during the holiday season and it is a wonderful, unique way to gather with friends. It would also make a unique and memorable gift this Christmas season.

“Bridal perfume parties were very popular when I ran Essense on Martha’s Vineyard and I will be offering bridal parties here too. Brides may call and reserve a perfume party for a group of friends or a bridal party. It’s a wonderful gift and guests walk away with their own personalized perfume.

Once a customer discovers a mixture of oils they love, the scent will always be available to them; Tamsan keeps detailed records of each person’s name and the oils she used to create their signature scent. She mentions she has customers call from as far away as Hawaii requesting refills and orders. A fun added bonus is when Tamsan helps customers name their personal perfume.

Essense products would make great stocking stuffers and gift certificates also will be available. The shop will be open by appointment during the winter.

Everything about the shop and its owner exude style. The décor of the perfumery and the products speak of fun and elegance. From the purple barn doors to the shop, to the exotic names of the perfume oils, Essense is a relaxed, yet stylish place.

“My mother calls me a stylish hippy,” Tamsan laughs. “I guess it’s true!”

The shop mixes the cool, essential-oil-hippy-culture with the elegance and style of an upscale get-away location.

It might be the purple doors or the well kept grounds or the high style Essense sign; whatever it is, those who want a different and utterly fun experience this holiday season can and should visit the Meredith shop. Call ahead for a visit at 1-800-332-6315 or visit 

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