Pia Long

Pia Long

I’m a Finn and have lived in the UK since 1992. I work day and night, thrive on variety and seem to be able to generate an endless stream of ideas. I wish I could learn so much more than is physically possible. There just isn’t enough time in the world. Author Barbara Sher describes people like me as ‘scanners’. I’m drawn to a wide range of topics and curious about how things really work. I’m an advocate for retaining the concept of public libraries, encouraging lifelong learning, and being sensible about science.

This blog is on an indefinite hiatus due to things really taking off with the business I co-founded with Nick Gilbert. You can check out Olfiction here.

I’ve always been fascinated (some would say obsessed) with cosmetics and perfume, and my first real part-time job as a teenager was behind a beauty counter in Finland. I’ve worked in all sort sorts of roles in the industry: as an in-house junior perfumer for a well-known global cosmetics brand, a technical manager, training manager, independent perfumer, fragrance industry consultant and writer.

I am always studying something and won the first ever David Williams award for best student work on the IFEAT Diploma in Aroma Trades Studies course. I am also working towards an OU qualification in contemporary science (though this one is on ice until I finish my other courses). I’m a council member of the British Society of Perfumers and was featured in the “future of perfumery” section of their 50th anniversary book, “British Perfumery – a Fragrant History.”

Pia Long and Tony Curtis

Pia Long and Tony Curtis

I was compelled to write from a very early age. My mother used to say that I learned to write before I could read (though I don’t see how that’s possible) and apparently I filled up notebooks, then took them to her: “Tell me what it says, mum!”

She sent one of my stories off to a magazine when I was nine years old. I was a subscriber of said magazine, and when the next issue landed on our doormat, I opened it to find my story inside. I carried on writing stories, book reviews (and school plays and speeches and columns…) for most of my childhood, and later had some teenage fiction published in a romance mag.

After I’d moved to London, an online SF/fantasy ezine took one of my first attempts at writing fiction in English (I won’t name the zine or the story for the fear that they might still be knocking around somewhere). Since then most of my writing has been nonfiction or otherwise work-related (software training manuals, online content, product copy and so on). That’s not to say I have stopped writing fiction – not at all – it’s just that I’ve chosen to spend the majority of my writing time on nonfiction for now. I have been involved with the T Party writing group for many years, though most of them as a friend of the group or an associate member due to inconvenient distance from the meetings. They are a great bunch and were very supportive of my early efforts of writing in a language not my own.

ODOU Issue 4I used to contribute to the (now closed) ODOU magazine, and still occasionally write for Basenotes. My article “Your Nose is a Snowflake” (ODOU magazine) was shortlisted for the 2014 Jasmine Literary Award, a blog post here was shortlisted for the 2015 blogger Jasmine Award and my article “Handpicked Hedione” in ODOU #4 was shortlisted for the 2016 Jasmine Independent Literary Award. I have a monthly column “The Juice: Inside Fragrance” in Perfumer & Flavorist magazine. My articles have appeared in the Fragrance and Flavour Association of India’s magazine and I ghost-write for a number of fragrance-related businesses and brands.

13315439_10209417855833104_2758112418207324530_nA fellow fragrance nerd Nick Gilbert and I decided to see what would happen if we filmed some of our smelling sessions and Love to Smell was born. We’ve spent many a day going around London, sniffing perfume with other fragrance friends (it’s an activity I highly recommend and if you are interested in coming on a future tour, let me know). We are currently on hiatus to build our business but subscribe to get updates for when we start shooting again (and there are a LOT of nerdy smelly videos to watch before you run out of content…My personal favourite being our Halloween Special).

Editing t-shirtIllustration and patterns are a big obsession of mine and in my free time (which there isn’t a lot of), I love to doodle. Check out this post for more about that or pop over to Society6 to buy prints, T shirts and more. You might spot that Nick and I are wearing matching t-shirts in the second episode of Love to Smell – they’re based on my doodles.

A few years ago I taught myself how to do photo collage and had some CD and book covers published. Ultimately it’s a hobby, but one I hope to continue with for as long as I can. After all, I ruined my main hobby (fragrance) by making it my profession.


Snow TotoroI’m a huge fan of science fiction, dark fantasy and the “new weird”; enjoy going to Eastercon when I can make it, and love everything Muppet, Ghibli and Moomin-related. My music taste is all over the place, and I am yet to find a genre that categorically puts me off. Film soundtracks and electronica do probably get more playtime than the rest (I am currently in love with IamamiwhoamI, Crystal Castles, Boards of Canada, Filthy Dukes, Pretty Lights, KOAN Sound, Gramatik, and stuff like that). I’ll never get tired of listening to the Fifth Element soundtrack. Being a Finn, I did grow up on a healthy dose of heavy metal, too, of course.

I’ll write about my work, studies and observations here, so expect a bit of a mix of perfumery, cosmetics and geekery.

Get in touch if you think we might have something interesting to talk about!

8 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi there! I am finding your site truly helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I wanted to get your opinion on a summer course being offered by Perfumery Art Schook, UK. I came across their courses via the internet and I thought to ask you if you have heard about them and what you think about doing a 2 week course vs. online courses. Thanks for your time. Look forward to exploring your blog and hearing more from you.

  2. Hi Aisha – I’m so pleased you’ve found the site helpful. 🙂 I will continue to add material when I have time and am otherwise able to.

    I have heard of Perfumery Art School because someone from there commented on this blog a little while back. I don’t know anything else about them. Usually it’s better to do your perfume training in person, but if you have access to raw materials, online courses can help, too. Good luck and I hope you will find a way to enjoy perfumery, in whatever form you aim to.

  3. Hi Pia! I have just listened to your interview on the wondAROMA podcast, and wanted to say what a delight it was to listen to you! I worked for LUSH this holiday season and it was so great to hear a tidbit about its history in perfume. Instant fan!

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