Push Indigo Perfumery's glass front door and a gentle fragrance of peonies, roses and gardenias touches your nose while a hint of sparkle catches your eyes. Windows twinkle with strands of crystal. A silver ceiling shimmers in the light of a chandelier. And the shop's true beauties — nearly 100 bottles of perfume — glint against glass shelves. Owner Ann Onusko collects the Lakewood boutique's scents from 19 local and global perfumers, even scouring London, Paris and Rome for fragrances you won't find in department stores. She's discovered favorites close to home, too, in local brands Yates Apothecary and Platinum J. "I've always searched out the perfume shops," says Onusko, whose passion for perfumes bloomed while gardening beside her flower-loving grandfather as a child. "It just became a part of me." Each hand-selected scent inside the 950-square-foot shop, which opened in October, speaks to a different personality. The Phoenicia line ($85-$110 for 15-milliliter bottles) with notes of cognac, wood and hay calls to outdoor adventurists, while the incense intense collection from Maria Candida Gentile ($165-$185 for 100-milliliter bottles) resonates with introspective individuals. The discovery of a personal favorite can take just a few spritzes, while some customers take home samples and return to the store several times. Either way, Onusko wants customers to feel involved in the process. "[I want] people who appreciate perfume, appreciate fragrance, to be able to have a place to come to talk about it," says Onusko. "I want to be able to show people that perfume is an art."
When You Go: Indigo Perfumery 12011 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-767-5563, indigoperfumery.com
Nearby Find: Heck's Revival restores vintage furniture and decor with funky fabrics and hot-hued paints. 11102 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-221-8221, facebook.com/hecksrevival
Indigo Perfumery carries four all-natural lines for customers with sensitive skin and noses. Synthetic scents contain chemicals that often irritate, owner Ann Onusko explains, while natural lines use essential oils that smell less overwhelming but still have staying power.
Onusko hosts monthly workshops to entertain and educate customers. The March 2 Mardi Gras inspired celebration will explore spicy fragrances alongside bowls of peppery jambalaya.
On the Scent
Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian and even Justin Bieber have them. But you don't have to be a celebrity to claim your own signature perfume. Melissa Hale, who teaches Clevelanders to blend custom fragrances at her monthly Yates Apothecary workshops, tells us how to sniff out a special scent.
NO LIMITS If you stick to a single fragrance family, you may not find a new favorite scent. So spritz as many perfumes — with floral to citrus and even spicy notes — as your nose can handle, taking secondslong breaks between each spray.
CHEMISTRY LESSON If you love a friend's fragrance, test it on your skin before you buy it. What smells strong on your friend could disappear on you. "It all depends on your body chemistry, on your own pheromones that your body puts out," says Hale.
SPOT ON The best place to spritz a new scent is on your wrist, allowing it to soak in before you take a sniff. Like it? Take a sample home from the store. "Wear them over the next week, two weeks, a month," suggests Hale, to discover what works for you in your daily life.
GENDER BENDER A leather-clad male customer recently bought Hale's mix of cotton candy, hibiscus and brown sugar — for himself. The line between men's and women's fragrances is blurring, so buy what you love no matter for whom the blend was branded, Hale says.