In the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of House and Leisure, we admired the work of three South African perfumers who have turned their backs on large fragrance houses to create unpredictable, bespoke scents of their own. Local perfumers are making their mark on the scent scene, and one of these master artisans is Tammy Frazer. Her handmade natural fragrances are created from raw materials sourced by the aroma goddess herself, and later hand produced in the Rose Street Factory studio.
As an entrepenuer, Tammy has found a gap in the market and has rerouted back to the times when only natural aromas were sourced and curated. We got to know more about this creative, business-savvy and passionate perfume creator.
At what age did you discover you wanted to be a perfumer? And how did you build your brand?
I was 27 at the time and had just completed my Masters degree while working in corporate. It all came together as part of my studies coming to an end. I knew that I wanted to return to Africa from abroad and was searching for what I could do that would contribute to my entrepreneurial spirit and my need to live consciously. The light bulb moment of deciding that scent would be my medium was immediate and as soon as I had it, the journey began. I resigned and started a journey of travel, exploration and trade with enthusiasm and curiosity as my modus operandi.
In terms of the brand growing over the decade that I’ve been crafting fragrances – because we built the business on strong beliefs such as ‘natural fragrances’ and ‘supporting African ingredients’ we found a niche that set us apart. We built the brand on this story and ethos.
Where do you draw your scent inspiration from?
Places, and the raw materials themselves to start with. And these are executed in my Chapters collection (inspired by countries I’ve traveled to, to source the raw materials) and the African collection (inspired by raw materials found on the continent). More recently with the work I do creating fragrances for individuals, I have become interested in the human element of fine fragrance and have created the INR range, four fragrances to enhance the way you feel. Then with bok parfums bebe, my personal journey of having a baby inspired this collection.
Can you talk us through the process of producing scents?
It all starts with a concept or a theme, usually something I’m curious about and want to research. The concept gets refined for the end consumer, the retail market and price point. Knowing these end results are vital to the start of the process, choosing the raw materials to work with and essentially communicating an idea through the medium of scent in an evocative way.
We are intrigued by your BOK, INR and African collection, how did you begin each of this projects?
I realized with the African collection that most countries have a fragrance genre they are known for. The French produce heady complex floral fragrances, while Asian fragrances are water-like. The British are renowned for the colognes filled with lavender and citron. While American fragrances are fruity, sporty and ozonic. I asked myself what is the epitome of African fragrances and I wanted to establish this in the market. We have a raw material called resin that grows on the continent and this collection is filled with these resins. INR was a response to how woman feel at the moment, the need to be authentic – never give their power away – and be strong and celebrate who they are. Then my personal journey of having a baby inspired the bok range. Something safe and gentle for my son Atlas.
Your beautiful video illustrates the deeply personal and sensitive scent production process. How do you feel at the final stage of your product?
I think if you ask many entrepreneurs they will say they never feel satisfied. It is in our makeup to constantly move the goal posts, to strive for the next. And its incredibly difficult for me to close the door on a formula. But what tends to happen is it happens organically. The packaging arrives and I put it in the box and voila! We are ready to share.
How popular is your bespoke immersion?
I don’t take on too many private bespoke projects at a time because I believe they should be rare and precious and the focus for me is very creative – working and learning who the person is and what they want to convey through the medium of scent. It is also a time consuming process and only for those that want to dedicate time to learning, and ultimately a journey that sees them having their own signature fragrance for life.
What is your favourite scent for each season?
I think fragrance is a part of how we portray ourselves and just as you would choose to wear red lipstick today or mascara tomorrow we should consider the appropriateness of what fragrance we wear and seasons are a great way to anchor that. Summer sees the sweet citrus, fun, light top notes expire on us as the sun sets. The changing season of autumn delivers warm spice – think black pepper. Winter accepts complex floral fragrances and spring the regeneration with herbaceous fresh basil.
What advice do you have for young creatives?
I would say, try not to rush. We are living in a time where deliverables are often reactive and part of being an artist is the journey of discovery we go through while creating. Don’t miss any steps in the process, fully explore each element and make decisions on materials, packaging and design that all culminate in something cohesive. And always push the boundaries.
For more information on Frazer Parfum, please visit: Frazerparfum.com
To read about three more master perfumers who are making their mark on the local industry, get our Jan/Feb 2017 issue.