Perfume Industry, Diversity, and Becoming a Perfumer

I continue the topic of perfume industry professions. I receive many questions and most of them are similar, so I decided to record a follow-up video. This episode addresses questions from people interested to become perfumers but worried about diversity and not being able to fit in. I’ll explain based on my own experiences and offer several practical suggestions.

This topic is certainly vast, but I hope to touch upon a few key issues. The main idea I would like to reinforce is that the fragrance industry is open to anyone who is passionate, curious, and motivated. I don’t come from a perfumery background. I don’t even come from a country where perfumery is a viable profession. I had no connections to the industry. Yet, I managed to enter it, learn, and create my own niche in it.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. I also recommend taking a look at Things to Consider if You Want to Become a Perfumer.

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15 Comments

  • Donna: I love perfume and I always wanted to try entering ISIPCA. Do you think that it’s too late for a 27 year old to try? October 8, 2021 at 2:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: It shouldn’t be too late! If your degree is in chemistry, then definitely you should try. October 9, 2021 at 2:04am Reply

    • Wild Gardener: You will need to speak French as well. October 10, 2021 at 2:23pm Reply

      • Victoria: Not necessarily. It depends on the program. October 11, 2021 at 3:35am Reply

        • Wild Gardener: You will need French if you want to have a life outside of class. October 11, 2021 at 5:12am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for this interesting second glimpse into the world of the perfumer. It’s good to know that there is diversity behind the scenes, even if the stage is occupied by a cast featuring white men. I agree that the latter is a global phenomenon. In Australia, the issue came to the fore in the Australian parliament early this year, when there was a focus on the sexist and often misogynist nature of the incumbent “boy’s club”. If you are interested in the dismaying details, you can read this excellent article by Dr Blair Williams (a woman).

    Inside the Toxic Sexist Culture of Australia’s Political Bubble – Australian Institute of International Affairs – Australian Institute of International Affairs

    In another life, I might have been interested in becoming a perfumer, but then I might have preferred to become a jeweller! So many interests, only one lifetime!

    I think that in any field, passion and determination can go a long way in helping a person to achieve their goals, and they fuel the hard work that is required to succeed in any complex field.

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline October 9, 2021 at 4:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Perfumery is a niche industry, and it’s not particularly well-known or advertised outside of the places where it plays a key role, such as France. That being said, I always felt that people who were curious and driven were given chances, at least on the perfume supplier side (the companies that actually create fragrance and fragrance ingredients.) Not that everything is always fair, but the situation is still much better than in the fashion industry. October 10, 2021 at 9:05am Reply

  • Zazie: So interesting, wish I had known when I was younger 😉

    I think a lot of advice you are giving applies to many industries… being mindful of other people’s time and interests and tune your approach accordingly.

    Sometimes incredible professional satisfaction lies where you least expected. Some glittering professions just turn out not to be as interesting as they look from the outside – keeping an open mind is key. Not just to work, but to life.

    That being said, I’d drop everything and everyone to wake up tomorrow as a “nose” 😉
    Ah, to make the ultimate perfume for oneself!!!
    I know, that’s not their job…
    :p October 11, 2021 at 5:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with you, none of it is limited to perfumery. I also try to reinforce that there are many professions in perfumery besides being a perfumer and they should be considered. I knew many people who wanted to be perfumers, but who found themselves happier working in sales or marketing. October 11, 2021 at 10:10am Reply

  • Kathy: Thank you for sharing your insider’s knowledge here – I hope you will reach and encourage some young people! Your email etiquette reminder was timely too: a response to an email deserves a thank you, whether it is a response one wanted or can use or not. October 11, 2021 at 5:49am Reply

    • Victoria: It takes only a second to send a simple “thank you” reply. October 11, 2021 at 10:11am Reply

  • Penny: Donna, I graduated from ISIPCA with a degree in MSc Scent Design and Creation. It took 3 years. No, you don’t need to speak French to enroll into that program. The first year I spoke no French and I managed to meet people and enjoy myself. Of course, living in France and speaking French in France is a nice idea 😀 , but I imagine that you already figured out.

    My biggest concern was the financial side. The programs are expensive and a job placement is not guaranteed. I loved my experience, but I know that many people enter ISIPCA expecting it to open the doors for them automatically. So be realistic about your expectations and weigh different options before making the final decision. Ask me more questions if you want! October 11, 2021 at 5:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Penny, thank you for your detailed reply. I’m sure Donna and many others will find it helpful. My initial thought was also about the price of this program. Full disclosure, I was invited to teach in it, but I ended up declining (mostly due to poor timing for me.) From what I can tell, the program does give you plenty of resources, but no, it won’t guarantee you a job. Even the regular ISIPCA program won’t, especially these days when there is so much competition. October 11, 2021 at 10:22am Reply

  • Murtaaz: Thank you very much for this videos and the steps you mentioned for any one interested in going into perfumery. Here in Nigeria, I doubt if we have any recognized perfumer which could actually serve as a source of discouragement for anyone with such dreams but thank God for the media and people like you, some of us are threading this beautiful path October 13, 2021 at 12:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words, Murtaaz. Glad that my videos and articles are helpful. October 15, 2021 at 1:21am Reply

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