Featured | 28 November 2023
How do I become a perfumer?
Scientific, romantic, exciting and creative – it’s no mystery why many people dream of a career as a perfumer.
From travelling to experience the scents of the world, to collaborating with a team of experts on a creative brief, and eventually seeing your fragrances on the shelf, the fragrance industry can be a highly rewarding and enticing one.
With around 500 certified perfumers globally and only a handful of new perfumers trained each year, the career can often appear to be secretive and exclusive, available only to those with connections in the industry.
CPL Aromas’ perfumers have come into their careers from a vast variety of backgrounds, and are always happy to share their advice with those who are interested in following the same path. Read on for insights from some of our talented perfumers.
How did you begin your career in perfumery?
For some like Dominique Preyssas, Senior Perfumer and CPL Aromas’ Director of Perfumery France, fragrance was always a passion – although not a career his family initially expected: “My family are all doctors or engineers. I didn’t want to do either, so I studied chemistry then went to the newly-created Versailles perfumery school, ISIPCA. My family all thought I was crazy!”
An education in chemistry was also key to Esneda Vela, Perfumer, when entering her role. Originally joining CPL Aromas in the marketing department, Esneda moved to sales before a promotion to Technical Manager saw her lead the compounding, quality control and the evaluation departments prior to becoming a perfumer: “It’s not the most conventional route, but I’ve now been a perfumer for the last seven years.”
For some, an early interest in perfumery leads them to a direct interest in the industry. Jean-Charles Mignon, Senior Perfumer, vividly remembers his first experience hearing the word ‘perfumer’ during a visit to Grasse, France with his parents. This sparked a passion which led him to seek training at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery, and then go on to attend the Robertet Perfume School.
Julien Rasquinet, Senior Perfumer, believes that, above all, those who experience the world differently make the best perfumers – associating smells with their strongest emotions and memories before other senses: “When I think of my grandparents I think of the smell of their house before I remember their voice. The smell of forest, salt, horses, nature, freshly cut grass, etc. That is the first thing that comes to mind before any visual aspect.”
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to enter the industry?
For those who are passionate about fragrance and eager to become a perfumer, there are a number of traits that offer you the best possible chance of success.
For Kamila Lelakova, Perfumer, curiosity and remaining passionate about fragrance exploration is key when honing your initial skills: “Never stop smelling. Keep smelling everything that catches your attention, as you never know when inspiration could strike. Be curious!”
Jean-Charles echoes the importance of remaining curious, believing that it’s vital for aspiring perfumers to attend as many industry events as possible – as the opportunity to hear from those within the industry and smell new perfumes and raw materials is a vital step of the learning process.
Dominique urges that patience and commitment are vital. Perfumery is not a conventional 9-to-5 career, and it takes years of practice to hone your skills and establish yourself: “We don’t suddenly graduate and become a perfumer. The more experience we get, the better and faster we become.”
An exciting and fulfilling career in fragrance creation isn’t limited exclusively to perfumers. From evaluators, to fragrance developers, to GCMS technicians, to our marketing team: a variety of fragrance professionals from all backgrounds play their part in our creations.
Jean-Charles considers “getting your foot in the door” an essential step to becoming a perfumer. Beginning any role within the fragrance industry exposes you to the right people and opportunities, allowing you to make necessary connections and share your passion – opening the door to further perfumery training and potentially a future career as a perfumer.
Discover more about a career with CPL Aromas here.