Chasing Dopamine, The Most Important Chemical in ThereThen’s Success
ThereThen has been a laboratory for how to optimize my brain.
Before I received my ADHD diagnosis, I didn't understand how my brain worked best, and I tried to force myself to operate like a neurotypical person. After my diagnosis, I became committed to building a creative enterprise that harnessed my gifts and allowed me to succeed on my terms.
My creative process goes something like this:
First, a movie reel runs in my mind: Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz, surfers like golden gladiators riding in on the waves. My memories begin to knit together, bonded by scent: alchemy that brings the story to life in perfume. I'm off on a quest to develop a brief (the perfume story) from the elixirs on my shelf.
Then the calm comes. I have bottled the lightning of the memory, but the discipline of perfumery calls for a systematic approach. In building a scent, layer by layer, I must honor the chemical properties of each element. It's constantly assessing how to bring out the best of each scent's personality. Sometimes, the process is painfully slow; other times, it's effortless. Sometimes, the correct elements are there, but they need time to macerate and develop. And a lot of times, it's a complete flop, and I have to start all over again.
As I go through multiple drafts, I share my olfactory concoctions with friends whose noses I trust. Holding the vial beneath our noses, I search their faces for emotion, memories evoked, and approval.
When I'm satisfied, I circle back to that original movie in my brain to see if I successfully captured the experience in scent. Designing labels and bottles for the aroma anthologizes each vignette into the ThereThen brand story: devotion to the California coast and its flora, insistence on transparency, clean ingredients, and authenticity.
I love ThereThen because this creative process perfectly harnesses my neurodivergent mind. Not every part of the job is fun, and I have done all I can to outsource the tedious tasks. Bookkeeping, anyone? However, much to my pride and delight, I've discovered that I have the attributes of a successful entrepreneur and the thrill and novelty of learning. I have motivated me to tackle subjects I never saw as relevant before. Math, chemistry, sales, graphic design–I have learned more in my last two years than I did in a lifetime of formal education. Now I genuinely want to be a student for the rest of my life because learning is what keeps ThereThen fresh.
I spent years of my life spinning my wheels and feeling like I lacked the perseverance to do hard work. Now I am excited every day to do hard work because I am solving my problems and challenges and fulfilling a vision that's all mine.
There may not be any actual dopamine in ThereThen's scents, but it is the lifeblood of my business.
Serena, I’m so incredibly proud of you and your pursuits in parfumery! You are inspirational and your scents are dreamy!! They make awesome gifts too — my girls love your perfumes.
Also I wanted to let you know there are companies that handle almost anything you want to outsource…including bookkeeping. My company (Remote.co and FlexJobs) features companies who offer bookkeeping services for small businesses.
A few off hand are: “Two Roads Bookkeeping” or “Belay”.
Best wishes to you and hope to see you soon…maybe a trip to Cali is in order soon. :) Love you XOXO