Perfume is not just a finishing touch to complete her style for Miriam Vareldzis, it’s her way of remembering life experiences and the people she has met along the way. There is a distinct scent to every memory. “I remember the perfume of long ago school teachers, the sap of trees, my grandmother smelling of hairspray and cigarettes and even the damp mildew of PDX airport after I return from a trip,” Miriam says.
Miriam, 52, is the owner and creator of the luxury fragrance collection, 40notes Perfume. Her passion for scents developed early in her childhood. Naturally, her first summer job was selling perfumes at a local department store. Miriam didn’t know perfumery was an actual career choice, so following destiny, she attended University of Oregon and received her degree in architecture and interior design. After graduating, she moved to New York to work with the prestigious architecture and design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. However, her lifelong passion for scent pushed her into making a daring career-change. Unbeknownst to her, that summer job would serve her later when she met and was mentored by one of the leaders of the fragrance industry, Ann Gottlieb.
Each 40notes fragrance is inspired by a single natural material that she wants to explore more in depth, such as naturally derived essential oils and hydrosols, meaning floral waters. Most of these inspirations evolve while traveling abroad. Some of her travel destinations include Europe, Argentina, China, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Nepal and Bali. “Travel and scent are so connected, because memories are anchored by our sense of smell,” Miriam says. For example, the inspiration for her company was the colors and aromatic breezes of the Mediterranean climate.
The name “40notes” was based on creating an identity around Miriam and her life experiences at the time – which happened to be around her 40th birthday. “Notes are the building blocks of perfumery, and somehow combining that with my own destiny of creating a new life from my own gifts, the name emerged,” Miriam says.
Over the course of her career, Miriam has done everything from fragrance evaluation, product development, marketing and sales. She has collaborated with renowned brands such as Calvin Klein, Gap, Banana Republic, Neutrogena, Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, as well as developing scents for celebrity and niche perfumery clients. She currently specializes in sourcing natural raw materials from around the world. Miriam’s impeccable sense of smell has allowed her to excel as an entrepreneur in the fragrance industry. It’s fair to say Miriam’s bold career-change paid off in the end, which was in fact a fragrant new beginning.