The evolution of perfumery

06 Jan 2017
5 min read
The Arab World has long been renowned for its magnificent natural oils and fragrances that ensnare the senses and captivate the mind. FOUR finds out how Junaid perfumes have learnt how to capture this and bottle it…

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Bahrain, my education, high school bachelors and masters were also done in Bahrain.

How did you get into your line of work?

My father was my role model, ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be a part of our Junaid franchise. I started off in the production line, our laboratory to be precise and was assigned to make the perfumes that our sales had required. So while I was producing the perfumes I started reading theformulas behind themand truly beganto understand how a particular perfume is made. With the help of my father and my cousins, they taught me how to memorize scents (and yes, we have to memorize A LOT of different fragrances). The first perfume I made was when I was 19 years old, called Ibdaa. And to this date, Ibdaa remains as one of our top 10 selling fragrances.

I never studied marketing as a degree, literally just took one class during my bachelors but I found it a very interesting subject. I started to research more about advertising and marketing and how it works. After I proved that I am interested in marketing (basically whatever you see to do with Junaid Perfumes, whether is the Marketing Strategies / Marketing Gimmicks, branding, social media strategies, uniforms, corporate vehicles, worldwide exhibitions, shops, kiosks etc is under me and goes through me before processing.) and then by the grace of Allah, I was working as the director of marketing at Junaid Perfumes. Now, Alhamdulillah my marketing team has been developed and today I am the Managing Director and responsible for all the top notch decisions of Junaid Perfumes.

Where did the idea for Junaid perfumes arise?

Well I can’t really say how or where the idea of Junaid Perfumes started, but it did start from my great grandfather. Earliest documents/receipts we have regarding the start of our company was dated at October 1910. When my great grandfather moved to Bahrain as worker, he was very influenced by his mother who would then mix and make “homemade” perfumes and bakhoors. She had a passion for this resulting in her son establishing our company. So when he had acquired enough funds he started his own business or making perfumes which was established as “Syed Junaid Alam”(which is Junaid Perfumes mother company, as well as my great grandfathers name, Junaid Alam”. The first shop he opened was in Bahrain in 1910, of Shaikh Abdulla Road behind Bab al Bahrain (the original Manama Souq, which to this day is still in business Alhamdulillah).

What do you think makes the company special in your opinion?

It’s a simple answer. Heritage.Over a hundred years in the same line of business can say a lot about us.

What does your job as a perfume connoisseur entail?

As a family member and shareholder to Junaid Perfumes we have to know how to make a perfume. That is the primary job to any family member in our business. I don’t have to know marketing nor sales nor finance because those skills can be hired, but to make a perfume comes from our hearts.

Can you tell me a bit more about the perfumes and scents you create?

We do have a distinctive touch we add in every single perfume we produce. In house we call it “the Junaid Touch”, something only we know.Well, as I said earlier Ibdaa was my first perfume, it does have a special place in my heart.But one of my favorite perfumes we have is Hajar, Oud Junaid and Tareekh black.

Each one of these has a different note and probably one of the most exciting fragrances for men we have. Hajar, being one of the oldest running products we have which was launched in 1998 and to this day remains as the best and most selling fragrance we have. Oud Junaid, which we are very well known for, and I can proudly say that nobody in the market can make an oud like this. It is the most valuable treasure we have. Our precious Oud Junaid. A mix of the worlds finest ouds combined into one, it is constantly looked after and is constantly updated to meet our standards. I can proudly say that this is the best oud that is found in the market today.

And as for tareekh black, why don’t you pay a visit at our store in Dubai Mall and see why it’s one of my favorite perfumes?

Where do you get inspiration for the scents you create?

A perfume always begins with an idea, a dream and a vision. Before I even start a fragrance I have already imagined the bottle and cap it will go with.I get inspiration from many things, and since I’m very much affiliated to art and colors that’s how I can get my inspiration.My biggest inspiration is nature though. Every perfumer has a significant style in analyzing breaking a perfume. I analyze perfumes in colors. To some, the smell of rose can be red, but to me a rose is pink. To you, when you smell a jasmine, you might think of it as the color white (since jasmine flowers are in white) but to me, a jasmine is orange. So I basically mix and match. I see what colors can go with what. Sometimes even the most random perfumes that have no affiliation with one another make up beautiful scents.

Producing and compounding a perfume is in no way easy. It comes after years and years of trying and failing. Some perfumes can be made after just one trial; while some can take up to 1 year of just making the fragrance (more than 100 trails) We perfect the perfume itself as how we perfect every single detail in our bottles, caps and boxes. We make sure every single thing is in its most perfect form.

Do you have a signature style that is apparent in all of your perfumes?

Every perfumer has a significant style in perfumery as how any painter has his own style in painting.Each family member has his own taste in making perfumes. And we can always know who made which perfume. Some members make extremely niche fragrances, some members are professionals in making fragrance based on flowers. We each have a distinctive taste in perfumes, but when I comes to deciding which perfume is approved and which is isn’t, it’s always chosen by my father, the CEO.I keep on saying “he” because all of us members are men, so sometimes it might sound strange to a customer that a particular fragrance made for women was designed by a man.

Where and how do you source the products for the perfumes?

All over the world, from Australia all the way America.

Favourite perfume, or fragrance, that you would have love to have designed?

The most exciting perfume I have worked withis a fragrance called Hanako,which in Japanese means “flower girl”.When I was 22 my father gave me a plain bottle and told me that this is my project. He didn’t give me any direction nor idea. He just wanted to see what I can do. After a few weeks of making designs I finally came up with a beautiful pattern and alsothe perfume which wasmade witha jasmine touch. When I showed my father the final product before the final step, he approved it there and then.Alhamdulillah, that perfume was sold out in 40 days after launch date.

What’s next for you?

Beat the best perfume I have ever made.

Find out more about Junaid Perfumeshere…