Return to Jiujiang
During an unbelievable ten day trip to China in April, I managed to visit 8 cities, take 9 separate flight legs, and stay in 6 different hotels. It was grueling and miraculous at the same time. All of the pieces should not have fallen into place; a trip like this just does not come off without a hitch. And yet, it did….and the feeling was one of being exactly where I was supposed to be in every moment.
Besides our official meetings with business women and professionals, throughout these travels I also interacted with countless ordinary Chinese women: tour guides, desk clerks, restaurant waitresses, flight attendants, shop clerks, etc. Brief and random interactions in train stations, airports, on the street and at tourist attractions often led to interesting exchanges where I ended up handing someone a foreverlily sample card. Many of them asked why I was traveling in China, so I had an opportunity to tell them about my daughters, our perfume, foreverlily, and share samples with them. I gave out over 40 travel size perfumes, and between 50 and 100 scented bookmark samples. I also gave out our signature tote bags, and carried a bag throughout the trip. So many people were attracted to the pattern on the bag and remarked on how beautiful they thought it was.
One two year old little boy who I met in an orphanage could not take his eyes off it…he kept pointing to the pattern, and the various symbols he saw in it. I got chills as I watched him point to the bird, the lily,then the mandela and back to the bird. I wondered what was going through his mind; he was so engrossed in the pattern and was trying to communicate something to me about it. He grasped onto the bag and did not want to let it go.
The first woman I gave a fragrance sample to was a tour guide named ‘Cindy’ who was with us for two days in Beijing. I gave her the sample on the first day, and the next day when she came to pick us up she said she had read all the information on the card and already looked up the GTB website. She couldn’t believe that all of this came from the adoption of a baby from a Chinese orphanage. She said that she was most struck by the name of our foundation, Golden Phoenix. “This is a very beautiful thing in China”, she said. “Means female rising.” When she said it she got a big smile on her face and gave the universal sign of acceptance: a thumbs up.
Most of the women whom I shared the fragrance with were, in a word, delighted by it. What attracted them first were the Asian design elements of the sample cards and totes. When they smelled the actual fragrance they seemed transported… many got very quiet and seemed almost not to know what to say. When they did speak about it they used words like “lovely” and “beautiful”. They were very familiar with the notes of the fragrance, especially the lychee and lily elements. When I explained that the perfume was inspired by my daughter, who was born in China, and my love for her, I got some interesting responses. Many said things like “Your daughter is so lucky”. But one professional woman said, “Chinese women deserve this…deserve to know they are beautiful and loved.” I couldn’t agree more.
The most poignant of the exchanges I had were with the children and little girls in the orphanages I visited. In their day to day environments, there is nothing of beauty and nothing designed purely for enjoyment or to lift the spirits. When I showed them the sample cards, and demonstrated how to lift the flap and smell the perfume, they were engrossed as if I was showing them the most intricate, intriguing toy or gadget; but it was just a piece of paper that smelled good. To them, though, it was like a miracle. They kept lifting it to their noses again and again, and clutching these papers as if their lives depended on it. And I thought, perhaps it does…..perhaps our lives do depend on beauty, on love, on happiness. And who knows where that smell transported them, or what was in their thoughts later that night as they lifted the paper yet again to their noses, one more time before going to sleep…my dream is that it took them somewhere beautiful, surrounded by the protective cloak of love that is foreverlily.