..................... and what we can do about it.
This is a topic that has bothered many of us in and around the fragrance industry for years and has been pushed into the limelight more recently with the global protests.
To me it is no surprise that people of colour are grossly under represented in mainstream perfumery as the commercial fragrance industry has always been built on elitism.
I mean think about it….
An industry where you can only call yourself a perfumer if you have a Grasse lineage and the training was passed down in your family (thankfully we moved away from this decades ago but for some parts of the industry it still holds true)
An industry where the only “real” perfumers are the few who have been hand picked to attend an” official” school and studied as an apprentice under a master perfumer at one of the big fragrance manufacturers.
An industry where to be “classically trained” in France is seen as the only way to be taken seriously.
It wasn’t very long ago that you could only train to be a perfumer if you spoke French. So never mind being inclusive to people of colour, it was and still is a difficult industry to break into even as a white person.
The truth is…..
Even if the likes of Firmenich, Givaudan & IFF recruited a bunch of black perfumery students today, it would still be another 5+ years before any kind of equal representation was visible.
And whilst it is important for these big companies to make changes in the way they recruit…
There is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY for the indie and artisan fragrance movement to make a lasting impact on true diversity.
We are moving into a time where people will vote with their wallets AND there most definitely IS diversity on the indie and artisan scene.
Here’s a list of black owned indie perfume brands you can support now:
I’m not just sharing this so you can go support those brands (which you totally should) but ALSO to encourage YOU to keep going if you are just starting out creating perfumes yourself.
ESPECIALLY if you are black and are worried about not being taken seriously as a perfumer in the industry (yes, I’ve had emails from people expressing those concerns)
If the brands above had waited until indie and self-taught perfumers were taken seriously by the mainstream fragrance industry they would never have launched.
Perfume is a scented story and every story is different and unique.
How we interpret fragrance depends on our individual experience and culture.
If scent is just developed through the lens of one experience and culture, then it is just telling one story.
So, what are you waiting for?