4 minute read. Interview by Fiona Cooke in 1220 words.
Lots of people work in the perfume industry and you could be one of them!
There are tons of different types of jobs that exist – Perfumers, Trainers, Writers, Brand Developers, Spacial Designers, Bottle Designers. If you are interested in this kind of thing, you are in the right place.
I chatted with Liam Moore, founder of Odou (pronounce it Oh, Do) because I was interested in how this soft-spoken Irish guy who ‘just really liked scent’ went on to create an award-winning perfume magazine.
I was hooked on perfume. What was it? Why does it smell the way it does? What goes into it? How is it made?
Liam Moore is from County Derry in Northern Ireland. I met him about seven years ago when he had just started his perfume blog Personal Odour. As his ‘Clarke Kent’ day job, he is a web and digital designer, but his ‘superpower’ is perfume and smell; he founded the Jasmine award-winning ODOU – the first magazine dedicated to smell and perfume.
What started your fascination with all things SMELL?
When I was at university, I worked part-time at Lush. I had to learn how to describe and sell cosmetics to customers, ultimately, to understand what goes into them and to a degree, how and why they smell the way they do. I quite naturally just found this very fascinating.
So you started a blog?
I started a blog, Personal Odour for a few reasons; one of them being a place to practice writing and start a conversation with other perfume nerds, it was also a place for me to deal with a great change in my life that I was going through at the time. I think “getting into perfume” was a bit of coping mechanism, but an utterly rewarding one all the same.
Perfume seems complex and a bit ‘weird’ to get into…
I find a lot of people tell me they are overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start. Where did you start?
I can see why people think it’s overwhelming but why is that? Surely people don’t feel overwhelmed when they get into music, or books, or film… Perhaps perfume seems complex and a bit “weird” to get into as a “thing”? I certainly felt early on that I wanted to become a perfumer. The more I tried to get in touch with people, the more connections I was making, and the more things presented themselves to learn and discover and enjoy. It made it cool to get to know lots of people from different parts of the entire industry.
Most perfume lovers get into it when they hear there are other people out there who like/love perfume as much as them – it’s a funny quirk that I don’t see in other circles. With that come book recommendations, blogs to read, shops to discover, ebay sellers to look up… It’s like swapping out “perfume” for “album” and “author” for “perfumer”.
going out to sniff perfume for a few hours in the shops can be like clothes shopping – trying things on, seeing if they fit!
When I read your blog a few years back, you would always advocate “just go out and smell things” – not just perfume, but life in general. Do you still feel like this?
I still do consciously make an effort to just smell things around me. The other day a friend bought a playing card set that came in this plastic tub; the smell of fresh plastic and print… I find these kinds of smells sometimes (if not more so) more interesting than perfume. Because they’re unexpected, and fun. In saying that, going out to sniff perfume for a few hours in the shops can be like clothes shopping – trying things on, seeing if they fit!
Was there a point when you started to feel like you “got it” – like you started to recognise different notes in perfumes?
I’d say I’ve had lots of “got it” moments because each step was slightly built up upon the one before. When I think back to Lush and the training I received, they were big on getting staff to know the products. The trainers would send shops vials of individual essential oils and obviously these don’t smell like the end product, but as a whole, the effect, the note was there. You can try this yourself rather easily.
this is how perfumers identify materials/notes in a fragrance – making smell-memory connections
A couple of years ago an Irish perfumer was very generous to allow me into her lab and spend time with her showing me how she learnt perfumery and creates perfume. She gave me little tests that perfumers have to do in school and this was a big “got it” moment. In one case, I had to smell isolated calone, immediately I was reminded of CK1 – she told me this is how perfumers identify materials/notes in a fragrance – making smell-memory connections actively.
it’s important to see both sides of the coin; there’s nothing wrong with celebrity scents, just bad scents.
How did ODOU magazine come about?
A couple years ago I realized there wasn’t a magazine about smell or perfume so thought I’d give it a shot myself. There wasn’t really a good publication about perfume and from the small ezines or things I did see, they all felt like PR regurgitation. I was keen not to have it feel like a beauty lifestyle magazine; this isn’t something I resonate with. Reading other people’s stories is much more fascinating and when the central theme is around smells and perfume it’s all the more fascinating. It’s important to see both sides of the coin; there’s nothing wrong with celebrity scents, just bad scents.
What can we expect to read in the magazine?
What I love about ODOU is when there’s an honest and frank account of someone’s adoration for perfume juxtaposed to a scientific article. Or a poem inspired by the smell of someone’s grandmother sitting next to a rant about the gender debate. It’s important to see both sides of the coin; there’s nothing wrong with celebrity scents, just bad scents. Gender does exist in fragrance; we’re just skewed to think of it in a certain way. “I Love Natural Chemicals”, an article in issue two, by Pia Long, is I think, one of the best pieces of writing regarding perfume that every perfume lover should read. It totally debunks the “natural vs synthetic” debate – the air we breathe is even a chemical! It was a huge eye opener for me because it kind of turned on my brain and got it thinking about other perfume topics. I think there’s a “got it” moment in there.
Thanks millions to Liam for the interview.
If you are genuinely interested and want to learn more;
Smell more stuff – Like, just everything! Smell things around you and make notes for yourself.
Ask more questions – Talk to people about what you want to learn. Lots of people are open about how you can learn.
Walk your own path – Liam thought he wanted to be a perfumer (and he still might do one day) but on his journey he saw an intersection where his talents in graphic design crossed with a love of perfume and led to a really natural place to start his own magazine about perfume that nobody else was doing.
Liam’s magazine has gone on to win a prestigious Jasmine award (the fragrance Oscars!). Perfume can take you on a wonderful adventure. It might be cathartic, it might be life-changing. Enjoy it.
You can look at ODOU magazine and buy online or hard copies at http://www.odoumag.com Liam’s portfolio site is www.liamjmoore.com
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