How do you begin to put into words an experience as trasformative as the one we were fortunate to share with each other, under Salaam’s unique and patient tutelage? I came to the perfume course with deep passion, and an open heart: I left with a deeper knowledge not just of perfume, but of myself, my classmates, and with a new language of scent to share with others. A new way to connect, to understand and to heal. It was so much more than I expected, and so much more than I had thought possible in such a condensed time.
It takes great skill to make something complex feel simple. Salaam has created a very special perfumery course; a blend of curriculum and philosophy that speaks to the perfumer in each of us. The combination of his deep knowledge, his profound respect for natural materials and their importance to our lives, his narrative, his willingness to share his experience, and his remarkable ability to distill all this into a format that we could understand was powerful. It unlocked something in each of us.
It is a gift to share knowledge. Salaam was generous with his knowledge, answering our many questions, but he also gave freely of himself. He was generous with his time (we never wanted to leave the classroom and truly would have stayed making perfumes through the night!), with his wonderful materials (letting us compose freely with materials of exceptional rarity and value), with his encouragement of our efforts and his supportiveness of our need to keep working, blending and bringing ideas to life. We blended compulsively, and each of us responded to, and was moved by, the essences he shared so generously with us. Salaam gave us the knowledge, tools, confidence and support to share ourselves through scent, fearlessly. I am forever grateful.
Finally, I must say some words of acknowledgement and gratitude to my classmates. We came from all over the world to share this experience, without knowing what it be. We were so different, yet under Salaam’s guidance we learned how much we share. It was unifying and enlightening. We were exactly what each other needed in our different learning journeys. This would not have been possible without each person making a genuine commitment to openness, sharing and joyful collaboration.
To ask for critical feedback is to make oneself vulnerable, and we would not have been able to absorb, create and grow as freely as we did without complete trust and unquestioning support. We were each other’s canvases. We had so much fun together and made enduring friendships in addition to perfumes.
It was a profound experience, that I wholeheartedly encourage others to consider. I left Italy with new skills, confidence and an understanding that was different, and greater, than I had hoped to gain. I have a network of special people, ninja perfumers whose continued growth it will be my privilege to share. Salaam shared the words of Khalil Gibran, in his poem On Children: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”.
We are your arrows. May we go swift and far.