Danielle Fleming co-owns NOTE Fragrances, 401 Spruce St., Scranton, and recently opened the shop’s second location at 312 S. State St., Clarks Summit. Her pink peony fragrance has been featured by Ipsy, a nationally distributed, monthly cosmetic subscription service, and she has been featured in Elle and Cosmopolitan magazines and on MSNBC. Fleming graduated from Abington Heights High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Moravian College in Bethlehem and master’s degrees in mental health counseling and instructional leadership from Marywood University. She lives in Dunmore with her husband and co-owner of NOTE, Mark Bonfiglio.
Meet Danielle Fleming…
What is NOTE Fragrances?
NOTE Fragrances is a boutique perfumery and a custom perfume studio. A boutique perfumery means we are a small-scale, artisan-batch perfumery. We do everything in small batches; everything is handmade and hand-produced. We’ve used machines for some things, but “boutique” really means the scale. You’re not going to find our brand at Macy’s. It’s more of a niche perfume brand.
What is a “note”?
“Note” is another way to say “a scent.” When you build a fragrance, notes are the building blocks. There are top, middle and base notes. We categorize them based on their molecular structure and weight. Building a fragrance is combining the notes, and that’s how NOTE became the brand name as well.
What was your business experience prior to NOTE Fragrances?
I had a company called Danielle & Co. that I ran from when I was 22 up until NOTE in 2013. We re-branded Danielle & Co. into NOTE because we wanted to focus on the custom perfume studio experience and the connection of the psychology of scent and getting people to connect with aromas.
What led you to opening a second location in Clarks Summit?
Danielle & Co. was originally based in Clarks Summit, and when we moved into Scranton, we saw some fallout from customers in (Clarks Summit). So as we were approaching this past holiday season, we said let’s do a pop-up (shop) and get our Clarks Summit customers to know this new brand, NOTE Fragrances. So we decided to pop up. We were just a pop-up, but the feedback was so wonderful, and people really wanted us to stay. It beat our projections, and all the signs said stay.
What is it like to be back in your hometown?
There is always a sense of home. I spent my childhood and high school years here, and I also built my first business here. So it was coming home on a business level and a personal level, so it feels really good.
How did studying psychology, mental health counseling and instructional leadership lead you to opening a perfume studio?
I started studying the psychology of scent. I was interning at the University of Scranton’s counseling center. I noticed that the students I was working with needed something else besides talking. I wanted to create something that wasn’t seen as medication. I originally just wanted to be a psychologist, but I was so fascinated by the powerful effects of aromas and how we connect to them and how they enhance our memory, alter our mood and can make us feel happy or whatever it is we are looking for. I’ve been studying that for a long time and realized that what connects to one person doesn’t necessarily connect to the next person. The purpose behind creating the studio was to get people to create something that they connect to.
Can you describe the custom perfume studio experience?
We try to talk to the customer first before we start sniffing to get a good sense of what they’re comfortable with. That helps them get used to the process, but it also helps us to better design for them. Then there’s a 10-minute demonstration where we talk about working with the perfumer’s organ; this is where they will sniff different notes, (and) we explain what scent families mean and how they work together. We also explain the note classifications. Then they will dip blotters into the different scented oils and put their blend together. We really want the customer to control the process and to be the designer of it.
Why is working with the sense of smell significant?
People connect to it. We’ve had people make fragrances to connect to loved ones who passed away or for a loved one. We’ve had brides create their own fragrance to wear on their wedding day, and what’s more special than to have your own signature scent on your wedding day? I did it for myself, and every time I wear the fragrance, I go back to the island I got married on. That is the powerful effect of aroma and how it works with our brain. It’s fascinating to watch and see people. Some have been brought to tears going through the experience.
What inspires your ideas for scents?
I get inspired a lot by the environment, so a lot of my creations are based off of trips I’ve taken. Santal Woods is based off a walk I took on the coast of Maine. Orchid Noir is based off of our honeymoon in St. Lucia. At night, you could smell all the night’s blooming flowers and spices of the kitchen. A lot of times when I’m in a certain environment, I get inspired and say, “How can I translate that and what I experienced into a fragrance?”
What are some of your interests outside of the business?
I like to travel. My husband and I really love the Finger Lakes Region of New York, so we go up there quite a bit. We lived there for a year when we had a shop there. During that experience, I got into wine. I had the chance to become friends with a lot of wine-makers, so I watched them, and we actually developed a line of candles based off of those relationships.
What is something, personally or professionally, being a business owner has taught you?
What I’ve learned about myself is we can always handle more than we think. I’ve also learned that what you think is a really big deal, whether it’s good or bad, six months down the road, it’s just a blip on the radar. I’ve learned to become a better businessperson by not allowing perfection to hinder my progress.
Photos by Emma Black