ODOU began for many reasons. One of them was to create a publication that was open, original and celebrated the diverse discourse in fragrance and smell writing. Opinions can be elaborated and explained through intelligent arguments. There is no right or wrong. It's food for thought.
I don't particularly align myself with any industry either; I don't see the beauty industry (for the most part) as a healthy one. And perfume naturally is lumped into this industry by default.
I was chuffed beyond belief when Neil Chapman won a Jasmine Literary Award for his article 'Perfume Haters' in issue 1 back in 2014. And for Dana El Masri for her piece 'Reflection Eternal' in issue 3 this year. What an award says is: this is good writing, it's encouraging talent and benefiting an industry, that peers or professionals deem this worthy. My own happiness was because I was a facilitator for these writers and their success. It was their effort and creativity that won them an award, that it was in my magazine, was of course a bonus. It encouraged me too. It gave me a flavour of achievement I haven't had before and it helped push me to issue 4 today. Also, it goes without saying that success is not measured in awards. Gratification and fulfillment can and should come from within first and foremost. External praise is good though, and it can go a long way.
The following is not meant to be an attack, but a constructive look at The Fragrance Foundation's Jasmine Award restructure.
I was very disheartened to read how much in favour the committee had for mainstream press this year. More than half of the categories are for mainstream press with a minimum circulation count of 50,000 copies. Immediately this says, small press is not suitable. The Jasmine Award for Best Practical Guide to Fragrance is only applicable to a printed title, thus cutting out blogs. The Jasmine Digital Award for online articles only applies to mainstream press. The only writing award that has a label "not writing for mainstream press" is The Jasmine Independent Voice Award. This means, one award out of eleven is for smaller writers – the little guys. The others are for mainstream press or in-house magazines for department stores, further cutting out smaller voices. Even The Jasmine ‘Rising Star’ Award (which I understand and would encourage) only applies to those under 25 years of age. This is a good award, but it circles back to the only category applicable to a lot of writers, The Jasmine Independent Voice Award.
In a way ODOU writers can apply to The Jasmine Visual Award, The Jasmine Award for Most Creative Visual (isn't this the same thing?), The Jasmine Award for Best Practical Guide to Fragrance and The Jasmine Independent Voice Award. Four out of eleven sounds good, but for other writers, it's just one out of eleven.
Also: "Each journalist can enter no more than one article per category."
One writer, one article, one category. That limits an entire spectrum of talent, thoughtful articles and interesting ideas. Were the judges swamped with entries in previous years?
It wouldn't be fair for me to enter articles in ODOU on the writer's behalf this time round as they may have their own ideas about their own strongest work.
It's not my place to tell The Fragrance Foundation what to do but I would hope that a truly fairer take on next year's awards are considered. Original, creative and excellent writing can exist in mainstream and small press just as not-so-good writing can exist in mainstream and small press – there's a spectrum out there and it appears limited in this restructure.
Good luck to those entering this year. Put your best article forward and may the best writers win.