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A Bouquet of Vanilla Ambrette

From Fragrance to Tangible Form

Sep 15

How do you render fragrance in three dimension?

That’s what two members of the social media team at Thymes—Natalie Broderick and Lesli LeJeune—asked themselves one sunny summer day. The fragrance they were looking to evoke was Vanilla Ambrette, recently launched and already a new favorite for its creamy, comforting complexity.

Experienced in the many ways to describe fragrances in words and imagery—the lingua franca of Instagram and Facebook—the pair sought to create something of substance, something they could touch.

“We were thinking of different ways to express the positioning and personality of the fragrance: Clothing, décor, drinks, flowers,” Natalie says.

What could that tangible medium be? A collage? A cocktail? A cashmere cardigan?

Bingo! A bouquet of fresh flowers.


The floral fusion made perfect sense. Lesli, who once worked at a flower shop, knows her ambrette from her astilbe. Natalie, meanwhile, designs the picture-perfect product showcases in the Thymes lobby and works on the catalog. “We’re both visual people,” Lesli says.

Even better, they had an inside track on a florist—a former Thymes coworker, Amy Backman, owner of Spruce Flowers, a “new-fashioned” floral boutique in Minneapolis.

They reached out right away. Amy instantly embraced the idea.

“It’s always fun to do something outside of the normal day-to-day activities,” says Amy, who formerly worked in marketing at Thymes. “To be able to look at it from a florist point of view was fun. We were happy to do it for them.”


In Vanilla Ambrette, Amy’s team at Spruce had a lot to work with. The home and body fragrance collection combines notes of daring bourbon vanilla, vivacious tonka bean, crisp cedarwood, mysterious vetiver root, spicy black peppercorn, enthusiastic ginger, green cardamom. The overall impression, as demonstrated in its pearlescent, richly moisturizing body wash, hand wash and luxurious sugar scrub, is of creamy comfort shrouded in mystery.

The goal wasn’t to duplicate the packaging design, per se. Rather, it was to make something new from its elements. In essence, a visual evocation. “We wanted to showcase the complexity of the fragrance—modern, beautiful, unique,” Natalie says.

For inspiration, “they gave us the fragrance notes and the packaging design,” Amy says. “We took some creative license and used orchids for the vanilla part of the fragrance. We also used pepperberry to evoke the spicy pepper notes.”

Spruce Flowers' Kyle Mayer put the arrangement together, factoring in both product design elements and fragrance notes. Specifically, he used cream and red-toned cymbidium orchids, because vanilla itself comes from the orchid family—it’s actually the seedpod—and pepperberry for the peppercorn. Brasilia and other fresh greenery formed the bottom layer, with a sprinkling of unbudded—or snowy—hydrangea.

To echo the metallic bronze elements in the packaging design, Kyle placed the bouquet in a metallic vase. “The packaging is soft and sophisticated, so we used a bronze container,” Amy says. Voila! The Vanilla Ambrette bouquet was born.


Lesli and Natalie delighted in seeing the final product, fresh and beautiful in all its complexity. “We brought it back to the office, and it was all pretty for the rest of the week,” Lesli says.

After this successful experiment in 3-D, what’s next on the list? Lesli and Natalie are already scheming. “Cocktails,” Lesli says. “We think a spicy vanilla cocktail would be really good for fall.”

Amy, of Spruce Flowers, agrees. “Cocktails? We can definitely help out with that, too.”

You can see pictures, and a step-by-step arrangement of how you can make the bouquet yourself, on Thymes’ Polyvore page, an online repository of inspiration.

To discover Vanilla Ambrette, visit your local specialty retailer or find Vanilla Ambrette here.


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