Award-winning perfumer and creative director, Yosh Han, launched her first collection in 2004, making her one of the pioneers of indie fragrance. Throughout her career, she has been a brand owner, perfumery instructor and spiritual practitioner as well as an active promoter and vital member of the global independent fragrance community. Since the beginning of 2020, Yosh has launched the Digital Scent Festival and the new Yosh Eau Fraiche line. We checked in with Yosh to learn more about her current projects and adventures.
Q. Congratulations on the Yosh Eau Fraiche collection! How would you describe its overarching aesthetic?
A. Due to a manufacturing issue (my lab was purchased by a larger global fragrance supplier), I had to reformulate. I love the new formulas because it feels like when a DJ remixes a classic song. The new version feels fresh and modernized. I worked with Rodrigo Flores-Roux at Givaudan to refresh the fragrances.
Q. The names of the Eau Fraiche fragrances are similar or the same as those in your original Yosh collection, but the recipes (and smells) are mostly brand new. How are they related?
A. Even though they’re called Eau Fraiche, they’re actually an EDP 15% concentration. They are lighter than my previous fragrances at 22-25%. I love them because they sit on the skin more intimately. They’re low projection but fairly long lasting, especially Sombre Negra.
Q. How did you decide to work with perfumers, Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Olivia Jan, and what was the process like?
A. They’re both incredibly talented and I felt like I made a movie with them - me, the Director and they, the Cinematographers. They were able to create fragrances inspired by my vision and we, together, collaborated on bringing newness to my brand.
I resonated with Olivia Jan because I feel like she gets me on a spiritual level. She and I worked together on König, which won an IAO award back in 2014. The eau fraiche Sombre Negra is a gorgeous skin scent and smells like a warm grey neutral tone whereas the original was dark and edgy which I created when I was in a pretty dark place. I’m in love with the idea of changing shadows and the evolution of our past.
Q. We’d love to hear more about your goals with the Digital Scent Festival and your efforts to organize around the decolonization of the fragrance industry.
A. This is a super dynamic topic. Scent Festival is a digital event that started in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic to bring the fragrance community together. The theme for 2021 is Intersectionality & Perfumery, focusing on Decolonizing Scent, Deodorizing Racism and Reclassifying the “oriental” category.
The perfume industry has traditionally been Eurocentric but in order to be relevant in 2021, the community must adapt and be more inclusive as well as equitable. We need more perfumers from the Global Majority as well as in leadership roles at the Board of Directors level. In addition, we need to find ways to be more sustainable and create avenues where the farmers and laborers in the supply chain are compensated fairly.
We also need to address the outdated term “oriental” which doesn’t have any olfactive meaning but instead is offensive and outdated. We cannot continue to allow marketing which fetishizes multiple cultures and reduces them into a monolith. It’s been amazing to see the movement supported by Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World, Fragrance Foundation and British Society of Perfumers as well as Givaudan and CPL Aromas who have all moved forward with [replacing "oriental" with] AMBER.
Q. Are you still engaged in utilizing scent for spiritual practice, such as with your aura readings?
A. Thanks to Covid, my aura readings are more popular than ever. Covid has forced many of us to reevaluate what’s important, take a deep look at what is important to the heart and to align with personal purpose. I also find group zooms to be a fantastic way for companies to stay connected but also learn about each others’ leadership and teamship styles. They’re so much fun - zoom readings have been really popular during Covid.
Q. You’ve been sailing all over the world in the past few years. Has that impacted your creative direction for the Yosh brand and scents?
A. Indeed! What I find is that the energy of creating a new fragrance and sailing are quite similar — both are methods of connecting with Divine Source. When I’m sailing or creating, I feel a deep connection with my highest Self! When I come out of the vortex, I feel more refreshed and able to focus and execute my dreams and vision. I’ve been recently commissioned by the Ocean Memory Project to create a scent project that ties smells with the ocean memories, so my worlds are integrating!
Q. What initially inspired you to become a sailor and open water swimmer, and what have these disciplines taught you?
A. Open water swimming and sailing are similar to creating perfume in that they are all an intersection of structure, order and artistic free-flowing energy, literally. One must harness the wind in order to glide through the water. With perfumery, one must understand the structure of top, middle and base notes in order to express the embodiment of the creative energies resulting in a perfume.
It’s a journey of the soul, so to speak. You’re a different person at the beginning of the sail than at the end, just like you’re a different person at the beginning of creating a perfume and the end. Often, it’s not what you expect but an incredible discovery and delight!
Q. Do you have any exciting voyages or scent ventures coming up that you can tell us about?
A. I had some big sails this year, including Granada to the USVI’s to Charleston, SC on a 50’ Beneteau sailing into the trade winds and rough seas (2000nm). I also double-handed a small 30’ Ericsson from San Diego to Hawaii and through the islands. (2700nm). I just got back from my second Baja Haha from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas then across the Banderas Sea to Puerto Vallarta on the mainland (1200nm).
It was especially meaningful to me because I conceived of the LIME scent for Scent Trunk back in 2019 when I first sailed there and this year, I was able to bring my personal completed bottle on the sail down. And of course, I got to sail with whales and dolphins! The scent has become kind of my new signature scent. We worked with perfumer Juan M. Pérez of The Exotic Island Perfumer for that and he did a brilliant job!
In the meantime, I do have an art project in San Francisco called Neon Was Never Brighter with the Chinese Culture Center & Foundation of San Francisco, the Chinatown Community Development Center, Angel Island Immigration Foundation and the Chinese Historical Society of America celebrating the AAPI community.
The project celebrates Chinese culture and resilience in the face of recent Asian hate crimes. I collaborated with artist Billy Ola Hutchinson to create the Scent of Longevity with Chinese herbs, green tea, salt, jasmine, osmanthus, and temple incense. It accompanies her photographs of Chinatown inside a Red Envelope. This scent smells both modern and ancient - a kind of time travel scent. There are 25 multi-media artists showcased in this exhibition.
Explore the Yosh Eau Fraiche collection.