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Bottle your own special scent at the Aroma Workshop

If you're looking for the right scent to adorn yourself with, whether to make an impression on a date, relieve stress or anxiety, or spruce up your home for a guest, the Aroma Workshop on 2050 N. Halsted Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood will help you make what you need.

Exterior of the Aroma Workshop
Coleman Gailloreto

As far as stores or workshops go, this Aroma Workshop doesn't advertise it's presence loudly. Tucked in-between a long row of clothing and shoe stores, it's clientele and customers are attracted by “word of mouth”, as an staff member named Iris explained, talking from behind a mirror-finish counter crowded with bottles, vials, and spritzers.

“Many are from urban environments,” She relates, “but a few have contacted us from rural areas”. She goes on to mention how a group of tourists from Taiwan once stopped by to acquire some products, having read about the Aroma Workshop in a tourist travel guide they'd purchased.

Each of these customers, whether urban, rural, or from abroad, come because they want a very specific scent or aroma to spruce up aspects of their daily life. And thanks to the daily events the Aroma Workshop runs, they have the opportunity to design and mix up perfume and odors tailored to their specifications.

Each 'perfume making' workshop lasts 40 minutes and accepts customers through prearranged appointments. During these events, customers look through several rows of sample trays–trays with rows of vials capped with small plastic eyedroppers, filled with varied essences such as jasmine, honeysuckle, gardenia, and rain (several kinds of rain, divided into categories of nationality!). Over the 21 years this store's been around, they've gotten “new fragrances, and retired old ones”, as Iris put it: still, if there's a specific smell you need, you'll probably be able to find it.

Selecting some of these essences, the customers experiment with combining them in different proportions, melding these essences of smell together to create the exact scent they are looking for. Once they've hit upon the right scent, they give the recipe to the store owners, who permanently enter it into their database so that they can produce and sell it on-demand for anyone who requests it (this being how they reimburse the costs of their workshops and seminars).

Once a month, the Aroma Workshop holds a specialized seminar, in which they focus on creating scents for aroma-therapy. They also frequently host essential oil-making activities at parties and social occasions, which have proven to be quite popular.

For those who just want to buy scented lotions, perfumes, and soaps, there's a huge selection of pre-made products available, many of them in ornate, gleaming bottles and snifters. The melange of scents that this produces in the store can make the eyes and nose water after a while!

All in all, the Aroma Workshop is the place to go for those who want to experiment with scents, capture a specific scent for their purposes, or simply learn more about the revered art of perfume making, a trade as old as civilization itself.

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