Monday Question – What Role Would You like To Play In The Fragrance Industry?

Do you sometimes dream of being a perfumer?

Would you like to be creative director of a particular brand?

Would you like a role behind the scenes or are you happy as a connoisseur and consumer?

My Answer:

I never dream of being a perfumer myself. This is not something I think I could ever do and I don’t want to either. I don’t have the talent, the patience or the creativity for this demanding profession/field of art.

But having the chance to create my own briefs, to work with a perfumer on a scent of my own imagination, that is something that sounds very tempting.

On the whole, I am happy with my role as perfume lover, collector and writer.

In my next life, I’m going for Christopher Chong’s job though… 😉

How about you?


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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55 Responses to Monday Question – What Role Would You like To Play In The Fragrance Industry?

  1. If I worked in the perfume industry I would be the one hunting down beautiful natural ingredients for the perfumer to use – although I like to make my own perfumes most professional perfumers have to follow a brief, and can’t always do their own thing – don’t think I would be happy with that!
    Maggie x

  2. Undina says:

    The last time I wanted to be a perfumer was a several decades ago when I tried to steep rose petals to make a perfume. Never after that fiasco.

    I would probably love to organize perfume trade/road shows or some special events related to perfumes. Anfortunately, I do not think anything like that would really pay. So I’ll keep doing what I do until I win a lottery meanwhile financing the industry by buying perfumes and maybe occasionally creating some lemmings by my posts.

  3. I could never be a Perfumer, my brain is not wired in a scientific way. I read Luca Turin’s ‘The Secret of Scent’ and the chemistry in it was utterly baffling to me. Even my sister, who’s studying for her PhD in Green Chemistry couldn’t explain it to me. So I guess that rules Perfumer out!

    Like you I would enjoy the role of Creative Director and I have seriously considered starting my own line. The problem is that to do it properly it requires significant investment. Hmm.

    I do also envy Nick’s job at Les Senteurs. I imagine that it is a joy to be there every single day.

    Maybe I’ll stick with writing about fragrance? That’s something I REALLY enjoy!

  4. Ines says:

    I know I don’t have the talent to be a perfumer but working with one on perfumes coming to life would be absolutely wonderful. 🙂

  5. Tara says:

    Agree with you and all the comments above. Being a perfumer is a nice idea but they rarely get to do what they want and chemistry is not my forte. Like you, I think the best job is probably Creative Director. You get to see your vision come to life and I could offer small bottle sizes and free sample sets for all!

    I guess I will continue as a “financer”, like Undina 🙂

  6. Alnysie says:

    Nah. I couldn’t even write reviews, they’d all be: “Oh that one I like. That’s one I like less.” When I watched the BBC documentary I thought the perfumer school was super interesting, and thought about it for a few days, but I know it isn’t me. I’ll stick to financing, as well! 🙂

  7. Alexandra says:

    I really couldn’t be a perfumer either, I have neither the creativity nor the nose. Even if I won the Euromillions (just imagine it…) I would be happy continuing as a consumer (first stop: Guerlain for my bespoke perfume).

    Having said that, if I did have a lot of disposable income (I think having your livelihood dependant on the success of your perfume might suck a lot of the fun out of it!) and happened to have a dear friend who just happened to be a creative genius I could see myself as the organiser/business manager, helping to develop a brand something along the lines of what Neela Vermeire has achieved.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is the first on my to-do list after winning the Euromillions as well, a Guerlain bespoke perfume. 😉

      What Neela has done is amazing, but she works her butt off and does it all by herself. It is admirable, but I don’t think I’d be cut out for it.

  8. masha7 says:

    I love DIY and have made a few nice things, but strictly as a hobby. That’s my happy hobby and turning it professional would probably ruin it. I’ve seen perfumistas go into the industry and for some, it does ruin the fun! But I would choose to be a squint- a scientist who works on new aromamolecules or natural extraction techniques, and does field work. That would be extremely cool!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I can see how that would happen. The most beloved thing can turn into a chore, when your livelihood depends on it.
      You’d be a great scientist, Marla! I see an image of you robbing through the undergrowth to capture the scent of rare Amazonian flower blooming only at midnight under a full moon. 🙂

  9. I think I would like to know enough to be able to carry on a conversation with somebody already immersed in the industry. That’s enough goal for now.
    I am currently overwhelmed but trying to sniff everything I can get my nostrils to.

  10. Vanessa says:

    Oh, that is easy – a toss up between doing my own job of industrial market research on aromachemicals, and having a part time job in a niche perfumery like Nick.

    12 years ago I did carry out a “customer satisfaction” project on a particular type of aromachemicals for fine and industrial fragrances, where the customers were buyers at Firmenich, Givaudan, Quest, Haarmann & Reimer etc (as they were known back then). I went to Grasse, Geneva, Paris etc *but it was just another job to me* in those days. How I would love to do it over again, or something similar!

    Hypothetically I could do focus group moderation on the consumer side of things if I had links with the industry (I don’t) – in connection with mainstream fragrances I mean, that are researched before launch, but I don’t really approve of market research for perfume in that sense, even though it is a product that needs to be pitched correctly in order to sell. Or my heart wouldn’t be in that work, let’s say, in the way it would on the upstream raw materials side, which is more my world.

    As an aside, I have been offered a Saturday / Christmas job at Fascination Perfumery in Lytham, only it is a bit far to travel! : – )

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh, that job you had with the armomachemicals – if you had that today, it would be amazing! My fingers are crossed that something like this comes your way again, I’d love to read all about it! 🙂

      Oh, too bad that Lytham is not around the corner, it would be a fun thing to do for a while!

  11. arline says:

    I like this question, because what originally led me to this blog and a few others, was because I was trying to make my own perfume! HA!!!!!! I was looking for inspiration, as well as well as instruction. (The instruction is scanty on the internet, to say the least)

    As an artist and creative in general, I thought I would like to create my own scent, since for a long time, I have enjoyed using essential oils, for many things. In my pursuit I have found, that I know VERY VERY little about this art form/ It takes time and great understanding of the materials used, along with time and patience!!!!!! . The alchemy that takes place within a creation is fascinating, and one day, I may take a workshop or something of the sort, to further my knowledge, and to expand my understanding. I would really only want to make perfume for me and perhaps some friends, but not as a way to make a living.

    My first creative passion is my painting, and I need to spend time with it. I have said before though, that by learning what I have learned so far about the world of perfume, my creative potential has opened and continues to exponentially, and it has influenced my art.

    I would love to work with someone, to create a scent or two or three…, that reflect aspects of me.
    (I would love someone to fund this 😉 )

    Meanwhile, I am happy to read fun blogs on the subject, and wear perfumes that other artists make. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      It is great that you stumbled on to that new world and that you feel so at home in it. I’m sure smelling something amazing fuels your creativity. I know it does mine.

    • masha7 says:

      It took me 3 years to make something that wasn’t stinky, and 5 years to make something people really wanted to wear! So yeah, it’s quite a learning curve….

      • arline says:

        I am on hold with making my “own perfume”, except for a couple of blends, that I know work with my skin, and I don’t consider them perfume.

        The first few attempts of mine were sickeningly sweet, and unappealing, my last attempt, smells like a bonfire to me (not only, but a bonfire is an unwitingly strong component)!!!!! My friend said he liked it, but I would not wear it myself.

        To make perfume is an expensive endeavor, which would be fine, if most of my precious oils would not go to waste in the process. I know that is part of it, but it is a painful one.

        Like others have mentioned, I am not a chemistry person, AT ALL, so I need major guidance and remedial learning about the breakdown of the oils, and how they work together. I know that a lot of the process is experiential, but a classroom would be good for me.

        I like to get my hands in the clay and be a part of the creative process, but I like wearing others creations too, so I am not too upset about it.
        (now I need a perfume budget)

        Yes, scent does inspire me.

  12. susan says:

    Oh this is an easy one for me… My fantasy job would be to become CEO/Creative Director of Coty, and bring back their classic fragrances like Chypre, L’Origan, L’Aimant, etc., in top form.

  13. Alexandra says:

    Good morning!
    Actually, I would love to be a perfumer… Someone who would pick natural ingredients, with love and respect to nature and people, who wouldn’t necessarily be too scientific about perfumery… After all, you don’t have to be a master chef to cook tasty foods; sometimes, a simple “amateurish” dish might taste the same good- if not better!

  14. Natalie says:

    Another “financer” chiming in! I don’t have any interest in being a perfumer or even a creative director, because I think the industry is competitive to an extent that very few brands have the freedom to run their company in a way that I would want to be involved (such as being able to make exactly the perfumes they wanted, without dumbing them down or lowering quality, but still making enough money to pay me a nice salary 😉 ). As for doing my current job (communication) for a perfume company, I don’t think I could do that either. I could not write the silly ad copy.

    But of course there are exceptions. If Frederic Malle or Hermes or a few others asked me to come work for them, I’d do it in a nanosecond!

  15. Alexis says:

    Although, I’m trying to train my nose certain notes and they all work together. I could never be a “NOSE,” that’s like something you need to be born with. Yes, I too, would love to be a creative director. Actually, I would love to be independently wealthy and eccentric so I could back independent and niche brands. I’d love to give them the ability to always be creative, cutting edge and not smelling like anything else commercial!

  16. Dionne says:

    Count me in as someone who has no interest in working in the industry, either as a perfumer or as creative director. One thing I wouldn’t mind doing is working as a perfume consultant; basically, helping people find fragrances that they really like, that work for them. Personally, finding perfumes that fit my skin chemistry was very empowering, and I see the same thing happening to friends as they ask for help in finding something. And as a bonus, think of the reference library I’d have to have to do my job properly…. 🙂

  17. angie Cox says:

    I am happy being a consumer .I guess if the B.B.C had a job making sure fragrances in dramas were right for the era and getting them ,well we can dream .

  18. Since Chandler Burr left the New York Times many years ago as the staff scent critic, I want his job! I’m not very good at writing about perfumes yet–I still have a great deal to learn about notes (what does immortelle smell like? why do rose and incense make such a good pair?) as well as the chemical processes that make a great scent. So I’m content to think and write about what I know for now, connecting perfume to my other interests such as literature and art. And I’m having a blast!

  19. deeHowe says:

    What a fun question! I’ve loved reading all the responses— Angie’s idea of being the BBC prop supervisor for fragrances sounds like a blast!

    Since we’re talking fantasy, I’ll go all out: I would LOVE to train as a perfumer with one of the big guys (Firmenich, Givaudan, etc), then start my own indie line using synthetics and naturals, much the way Laurie Erickson does. As far as I’m concerned, that woman is living the dream!!!
    (The house outside Sonoma wouldn’t hurt either, lol)


  20. Tarleisio says:

    If I were to have any job at all in the perfume industry…it would be as ..copywriter…in other words, be the one who writes the copy that makes the rest of us want something really, really badly…The copy you would see in press releases and on the website and in PR material, the kind to make you swoon with pleasure – and that’s before you ever smelled the stuff! 😉

    Considering some of the…errr….empurpled?? prose I’ve seen in my time as a blogger, I dare say I’d be rather good at that!

    Ah, well. I can dream…:D

  21. lady jane grey says:

    For me parfumeurs are artists – and of course, I’d love to be an artist.
    BUT more than that I’d like to own a small parfume company, where I’m the overall boss and can decide the direction, the design and conditions of sale…

  22. lady jane grey says:

    Immediately, on the spot !

  23. unseencenser says:

    This is a beautiful game, I want to comment even though I am so late!
    It’s a fantasy, so I will imagine the impossible: I would LOVE to be a nose. I already love creative process, watching something come together that cannot be anything other than what it is when it’s finished, but has so many possibilities while it is under way. And I love working to a “brief”, actually; a request from a consumer/sponsor makes me have to work, and sometimes produces results far greater than I could have come up with without the input of an imagination other than my own. It’s hard to find the right “brief” in other art, and I imagine it would be here too, but I think I would enjoy that.
    And the more I sniff and the more I learn, the more I do sniff. I’m smelling scents on coworkers that I never thought for years wore any perfume. On the streets in the city I catch whiffs of more perfume. So I feel like, the more I keep smelling, the more I’ll smell, forever and ever in an upward curve! (Until perhaps I go mad from the sensory input? Well, let’s assume not. 🙂
    Happy very-far-from-Monday!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for that wonderful answer! You are so right about a brief being helpful to get going as an artist, total freedom can be overwhelming.

      So good to hear your sense of smell is broadening and becoming more acute, I experience that too and it is great! 🙂

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