What does chakras, numerology, perfumery and sailing have in common? They are all a part of who Yosh Han is at her core. Read about where she finds inspiration, how her development process ebbs and flows, and how being at sea at night under the stars may be (fingers crossed) her next perfumed project!
Q: First, tell us about your unique approach to developing scents. How do you use numerology and chakra energy to inspire and create scents?
Great question. Vibrational perfumery is an avenue to express these healing arts into a more modern approach to connecting with Divine Spirit. The word Per Fumum in Latin means through smoke as incense was originally used to communicate to the heavens. Sentir in French means both to feel and smell. So really, fragrance is a way to communicate our essence with divine. When you understand that chakras and numerology are spiritual tools, you understand that my fragrances are tools to amplify your own inner radiance.
Q: With such a personalized approach, what do you want customers to know about how to pick a scent to wear?
I’ve studied intuitive arts, clairvoyance, Reiki and other modalities for many years. So all of this is already baked into the DNA of each attuned fragrance. Each person should trust their intuition. Each fragrance has a name, a frequency, and color as well as the actual scent. There are so many ways to approach the collection but each person can tune into their own intuition to feel which scent is right for them. Some people chose a scent because it’s got their lucky number in it or it resonates with their astrology or favorite color.
Q: How long does it take to for you to develop a new fragrance?
Sometimes an idea comes to me or a feeling or a mood. From concept to production really depends also on business cycles. I have some fragrances that I can turn out rather quickly whereas other times, it can take years. But with creative, I do like to block out day dreaming time and also actual time to create the brief and olfactive concept.
Q: Where do you do your best work? In a studio, outdoors, at sea?
I need to spend uninterrupted time, preferably at sea or swimming is when my mind relaxes and new ideas will pop-up. Hiking and the shower are also great. But then I need to get into a lab and start blending and evaluating to see whether my ideas and formulas in my mind will work olfactively. Because sometimes the materials will speak to me when I’m sitting down to blend.
Q: How has your approach to perfumery changed since you launched your first collection, the Luxury Elements collection, to now?
I am still enthusiastic about fragrance but I have a more conceptual approach now to scents. While I’ve always created experimental fragrances even from the get go, that seems to be more where I enjoy being now. I did three art fragrances last year and that was really gratifying. Especially since The Art of Bloom has been recognized in the art and design community with various awards.
I love fragrances as commodities but really enjoy sharing my passion to view the world through the lens of olfaction more broadly, like with the digital scent festival that I produced. Collaborating has allowed me to work with scent on a more conceptual level and that feels great.
I also enjoy working with different perfumers at Scent Trunk, where I’m a Creative Director as well as other clients to support their bringing their vision to life.
Q: What was the inspiration behind König, which we featured in the May Collection for Men? What do you feel when you smell it?
This fragrance is so transportive. I feel like I’m in Bavaria, in some other time and place in the past and also in the future. It feels very stately to me but also very modern. Like a future déjà vu.
Q: For König, you collaborated with French perfumer Olivia Jan. What was that partnership like?
She is really a very talented perfumer. At that point in my career, I was already more the Founder and Creative Director and not hand-blending in my studio anymore.
When I had the opportunity to work with Robertet, I jumped at the chance. Olivia had a clear understanding of where I wanted the fragrance to go but she refined my vision and created a scent that was really regal. I also felt very supported by the entire team there. I had the chance to work with Miriam Vareldzis again whom I worked with when I was using a different fragrance house. We had an incredible trifecta!
Q: You won an Art and Olfaction Award for best perfume with König. How did that feel?
In a double blind jury, it is a good feeling to be recognized by peers. I also felt it was a good win for Robertet to show that supporting independent perfumery is important. When there’s collaboration, the entire industry can grow together.
Q: For your newest collection, Eau Fraiche, you invited Givaudan perfumer Rodrigo Flores to collaborate. Why did you choose him and how does he complement what you do?
Well this is the irony, I had been working with Givaudan for a different project. I wasn’t sure who was going to be assigned to me so I was surprised actually to find that Rodrigo wanted to work with me. It was a thrill because he is very talented and his work is really refined and elegant. I felt like he polished up some of my edges; the scents are really contemporary. I created my original Luxury Elements Collection in 2004 so these are very fresh and glamorous but also understated. He’s fabulous!
Q: In addition to being a perfumer, you’re also a super taster (and level 1 Sommelier and former tasting judge for the International Chocolate Salon in San Francisco!). How do taste and smell work together to develop perfume? To enjoy wearing it?
I love working with flavors and scents together. Many people don’t realize taste is literally 80% smell! When I do various tastings for whiskey, wine, chocolate, mezcal or anything, it’s really fun to break down the flavor profile using fragrance aromas. You can literally see people’s lightbulbs go off when they make those connections.
I’ve also recently been designing and producing Scent + Ceremony dinners where each course resonates with a certain chakra. I then work with a chef to translate those notes into menus. So for example, I would start with a welcome cocktail using essences related to the 1st chakra. The amuse bouche would have components relating to the 2nd chakra whose theme is creativity and sensuality so I would pair that with aphrodisiac essences. 3rd chakra is really active and ginger is a wonderful ingredient to activate it so using ginger in an appetizer would really get people appetite going! 4th chakra is all about the heart, roses or other florals are wonderful and who doesn’t love an edible flowers salad course? And so on depending on how many courses in the dinner there are. Each dinner or event has a unique theme. These gatherings are what bring me joy!
Q: You also have a deep connection to water and the sea. You’re a sailor! Tell us more! How does it inspire you as a perfumer?
We are made up of water! The earth is made up of water! My company, Eau de YOSH literally means, water or spirit of YOSH! When I’m out at sea, I feel super connected to Divine Spirit and Mother Nature. Ironically, being in the deep blue, there’s a lack of scent. You only really smell stuff when you get nearer to land. So being out at sea for weeks at a time helps me get really pure, clear and creative. My body adjusts to natural circadian rhythm of the planet, sun, moon and stars. Sailing at night under the stars is one of my favorite feelings. Maybe I should bottle that up! ( we think so!)
Q: If you are not sailing or sniffing, what are you up to?
I do enjoy going to live music & art shows as well as literary and cultural events. I love smart people who are sharing their craft, whether that’s through music, art or literature. Traveling is a huge part of my life as well. I love learning! I’m a student of life!
Q: What’s next for you? For Yosh?
I would love to take the Digital Scent Festival that I’ve produced and evolve it, whether it’s more programming or master classes. I’ve found that there are a lot of people who want to learn and connect to each other. I’m actually also working on a new natural perfume as well as aura bath salts. I’m really excited about both these projects! I’ve dreamed often of combining my love of fragrance, food, traveling, healing, and sailing together. Imagine sailing to a tropical climate, landing and visiting local farms and learning about the culture, plants and terroir and being one with spirit and nature. I would love to be the Anthony Bourdain of aromas and blend it with adventure retreats! Life is unfolding magically!
We were pleased to feature König in the May 2020 Mens and Deluxe Collection along with Sottile which was featured in the April 2020 Women's and Deluxe Collection as well as Angeleno in the June 2020 Women's and Deluxe Collection. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram!
Photo credits: Yosh
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