Dubbed as a global fragrance expert, Ms. Marian Bendeth shares with us her industry insights, expert tips, and even her fearless forecast of the perfume trends to watch out for this coming 2016.
Ms. Marian Bendeth ventured into the Fragrance Industry in 1983 and became a Pioneer in 1989, when she opened “Sixth Scents”, her very own company based in Toronto, Canada.
Her services as a global fragrance expert are much sought after by consumers, retailers, fragrance vendors, perfumers and the media. She has proven her expertise, most especially on personalized fragrance wardrobing based on body chemistry, personality, lifestyle and environment.
Ms. Bendeth is the recipient of various recognitions in the industry including the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Canadian Fragrance Awards, 2014 and Best Media Editorial Award – Canadian Fragrance Awards for several years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014). Along with these are media features that show her relevance in the fragrance industry.
It is a great privilege for us to be in touch with a much sought after personality in the perfume industry, and we are very please to share with you the interview that gives a peek of what’s in the mind of a notable global fragrance expert.
Please tell us something about ‘Sixth Scents’. How did it start? How it works?
I opened my company in 1989 as a pioneer in my field. I was fascinated by scents and odours as a child in London. Instead of toys, I saved my pocket change to collect miniature bottles of perfumes at our local chemist store. I wasn’t so much interested in the bottles as I was with the emotional impact those scents and odours played with my perception of life and memories.
My collection of scents grew and I started to research fragrances at age 11. It was my passion and hobby but not one that I ever even considered as a career. After doing stints in: advertising; public relations, the movie/TV industries; I eventually worked in the music biz as a special events co-ordinator and then as a critic. A coworker was a demo in the fragrance industry and thought I would be great selling on the weekends part time which eventually turned into a full time career.
My acumen lent itself to eventual training, special events and promotions. I opened my company in 1989 as I had a “sixth sense” in knowing which fragrances people gravitated towards and this led to my fragrance wardrobing. No one else in the world was doing this at that time. I managed to originally secure over 40 distributors starting with 800 prestige fragrances that has evolved over the years with the addition of niche, indie, luxe and specialty scents. The original focus was to specialize in personalized fragrance consultations based on: body chemistry, psychology, fashion and lifestyle and most importantly, the wants and needs of my customer. The consultancy has now broadened in many more varied aspects of the fragrance industry.
After being featured in retailers, I then made house calls which led to Fragrance profiling. I am one of the few fragrance consultants in the world that consult with: the media, retailers, buyers, evaluations for perfumers and clients, the fragrance industry – vendors, corporations and of course, the general public. My company also provides special guest endorsements for the fragrance houses along with evaluations for Fragrance and Flavour Houses globally.
I also write fragrance stories for Basenotes.net and together we have won six Media Editorial Awards . I also won a Lifetime Åchievement Award in 2014 at the Canadian Fragrance Industry.
How important is fragrance profiling?
... "Fragrance is our walking biographies". It speaks for us and how we wish to be perceived.”
Fragrance profiling came about as a complete accident. After consulting with literally millions of disparate individuals from all walks of life; cultures, religions, economic background etc. I noticed commonalities in personality traits with specific fragrances and classifications. Most people tend to stick with three fragrance families and also have many common interests and psychological profiles. I always like to say that “Fragrance is our walking biographies”. It speaks for us and how we wish to be perceived.
What is the ‘golden rule’ in trying/testing fragrances?
First and foremost, one should never be wearing an existing fragrance when testing. The skin should be clean of any preexisting oils. Secondly, smelling the atomizer head should be taken out with the garbage. This doesn’t serve any purpose as the scent must be worn on the skin to evolve. Spraying the air is also redundant as these droplets sometimes hover and may mix with other sprays thereby confusing the nose.
“A quality fragrance should take you on a journey so shutting the eyes and allowing the fragrance to make you feel something is of the utmost importance and this takes time.”
The one common mistake most fragrance lovers do is to anticipate and prejudge a fragrance after only a few seconds of spraying be it on a blotter or on the skin. This is like meeting someone new for the first time and thinking “hate the person’s hair or eyes, must be a loser” attitude. A quality fragrance should take you on a journey so shutting the eyes and allowing the fragrance to make you feel something is of the utmost importance and this takes time. Allow the scent to evolve and go back to it over and over again. Then make your decision but never after the first spray.
Is there a ‘secret’ in making fragrances last longer?
Absolutely not. A fragrance can last a full day on one person and only a few hours on another. That is your body chemistry which is special to you. Of course, eau de parfums and parfums are created with intense concentrations and that can assist longevity but it is down to the wearer really.
There is already a wide selection of perfumes in the market. As a world-recognized perfume consultant, what do you think are the most important considerations in choosing perfumes?
“...fragrance wardrobing is very important not only as a complement to your fashion sense but more importantly to your mindset."
I always ask my customers “When do you want to wear this?” and of course “How does this make you feel?” Many will wear a strong evening fragrance to work, on the subway, on the bus, in the boardroom and in the elevator. Not unlike fashion, fragrance wardrobing is very important not only as a complement to your fashion sense but more importantly to your mindset. There is no “one-stop fix all” fragrance which was a marketing ploy in the 80’s. The nose can tire of signature scents and many are inappropriate in a given environment. Building up a fragrance wardrobe is very important to your varied moods.
Niche perfumes and even other designer perfumes are very expensive. Please share some tips on proper use and storage of perfumes.
Even fragrances that are mass and less expensive also possess oils and aromachemicals in them so maintaining the integrity of a fragrance for longevity is key. Don’t throw away the outer box just yet. It keeps the fragrance from direct sunlight. Make sure the cap is on the fragrance to avoid oxidation. Keep your scents out of direct sunlight and extreme heat like the bathroom or glove compartment in the car. Store in a cool dark place.
Based on your expert opinion, what changes do you forecast in the perfume industry for 2016? Are there trends that we can look forward to?
“Scents will become heavier, a backlash to the barely-there vapid scents that were predominant and politically correct…”
We have seen a return to the Victorian Soliflore blends where one note is emphasized such as: violet, sandalwood, iris, rose and oud and this will continue. Mainstream retailers are now noticing some niche brands who are making the big crossover to the mainland. Scents will become heavier, a backlash to the barely-there vapid scents that were predominant and politically correct but also look out for fresh fragrances that maintain potency with new blending techniques.
Your passion for scents started at an early age, and I can say that as a perfume expert ‘the rest is history’ for you. Please share some words of inspiration for those who are aspiring to become a perfume expert.
“There are no short-cuts to fame and giving oneself a title does not make one an expert…”
I believe anyone calling themselves an expert in anything must have years of dedication, intense research; financial investment and of course, hands-on involvement in the subject and industry they profess to be “experts” on. There are no short-cuts to fame and giving oneself a title does not make one an expert because when you do meet those who are in your field, you will be found out very quickly. If fragrance is your passion, get a job in the industry first and foremost. Sorry but I respect the opinion of one who works behind the counter much quicker than a blogger who collects a few bottles and has many opinions.
“Don't be afraid to ask questions or look stupid, how will you ever learn otherwise?”
Research the industry from as many angles as possible and then hone in on your specialty. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or look stupid, how will you ever learn otherwise?
The fragrance industry is a tough nut to crack and it can take years to become a perfumer. There are perfumery schools and fantastic courses provided by Cinquieme Sens in Paris and New York for the avid fan. Marketing courses are available at The Fashion Institute in New York and other other prestigious Universities around the world. Read as many books on perfumery as you can by qualified industry people. Get informed with the right information. The internet is a fantastic and sometimes dreadful place to learn facts. There is a lot of misinformation floating around so be wise and do your homework.
“Anything worth having must involve homework, learning, hands-on experience and 1000% dedication.”
I was generously given my title by Fragrance Author/Expert, Michael Edwards whom I admire and respect enormously. His books FragrancesoftheWorld.com and Fragancesoftheworld.info are wonderful resources to keep up with the wonderful stories behind the classics as well as keeping abreast of the ever-changing influx of new brands hitting our shelves.
My learning journey is ongoing as one can’t know everything about everything in the fragrance industry. There are so many different facets under the umbrella of fragrances. Try to learn something about each facet first. Be a Chef of Culinary Arts in the broader sense and then hone in on what moves you. Just don’t try to fake or wing it. Anything worth having must involve homework, learning, hands-on experience and 1000% dedication.
I do believe fragrance lovers are experts on their own tastes and passions. Being open even to those scents which don’t personally appeal to you, this is progressive. To be passionate yet open to everything as our industry evolves can only improve your knowledge and tastes.
There are only a few recognised experts in the perfume industry and Marian Bendeth is definitely among them. Learn more about her and the works that she is involved in by visiting her website: http://www.marianbendeth.com
Do you have a message for Marian? Do you know an industry influencer that you think we should feature? Got some thoughts about this interview? Please leave a comment so we will know.