Spring Love, Apprentice Perfumer Ji-hee Hong
- Top: Lemon, dewy green orange, juicy apple, pineapple;
- Heart: blackberry, white and pink roses, muguet, jasmine flowers;
- Base: white musk and powdery, sandalwood and slight amber scent.
How did you find out about the fragrance industry?
Back in 2015, while I was in college studying chemistry, I wanted to get an internship that was related to the field that I was studying. Fortunately, that was when Alpha Aromatics has just opened their door to college students for an internship and had sent emails to multiple colleges around the Pittsburgh area. My school chemistry department informed chemistry students about this opportunity, so I took my chance for an interview and I was lucky to get it.
Working in the fragrance industry definitely opened my eyes to the world that I was not aware of before, and I am very grateful to pursue my career in the field where I can combine my scientific knowledge and artistic creativeness together.
What made you want to be a perfumer?
I have always had my heart in fine arts ever since I was a child. I used to be an art student, dreaming to become a visual designer, played in the orchestra as a flute player (I still do), and sang in many choirs.
When I found out about this career path, I was so thrilled that I can work in the field where it requires both of my scientific knowledge and creative mind. It is so exciting to see how fragrance can affect people's mood and even recall some of their precious memories. Seeing those expressions on people has truly become a huge part of why I want to be in the fragrance industry, and knowing that my fragrance can also have a good impact on people assured me to keep pursuing my career as a perfumer.
What are some of your favorite and least favorite scents?
My favorite feminine fine fragrance is Marc Jacobs Daisy and my favorite masculine cologne is Invictus by Paco Rabanne. I am a fan of light white florals with citrusy top notes, such as white citrus-scented lotion from bath and body works. I really like fresh-aquamarine aromas, clean/cotton notes, and sweet/musky scents as well. I am not a fan of the cinnamon type of spices and vanilla... they tend to give me a headache.
What are the hardest obstacles you have found when working in perfumery?
Taking criticism of the fragrance I have made, intensely studying all kinds of raw materials, and among all the other difficulties that I can talk about, the hardest obstacles I have found when working in perfumery is that there is no obvious guideline to follow for pursuing your career in the field.
Often times, at least what I have noticed is that people in this industry find about this field by accident. In the USA, unlike med schools or law schools, there are no apparent ways, programs, school or studies for people who want to start their career in perfumery. Even as an apprentice, I find it very hard to figure out what I need to do next in perfumery both academically and professionally.
As an apprentice, I am hoping for more gatherings or events where perfumers can share their experiences, advice, and suggestions with those who are still new to this field.
Mentor: Roger A. Howell
- - -The American Society of Perfumers is a members-only organization of established professionals in the art and science of perfumery:
"Our mission is to Educate, Support and Promote the Perfumer in the fragrance industry both domestically and abroad. Together with other industry organizations, we ensure appropriate regulatory guidelines and standards set for safe and beautiful fragrances. The high code of perfumery ethics established by our organization maintains respect for perfumery as an artistic work of the mind. Most importantly, we strive to inspire artistic creativity, incorporate scientific ingenuity and maintain the integrity of our profession.