Oscar Mejia Fragrances: Embodying Experiences and Memories
Oscar Mejia, Filipino perfumer, muses, “When you smell something for the first time, it is committed to your memory and emotions and that develops a strong bond. It brings you back to the first time you smelled it and how you felt.”
Studies show that it takes a slow and long time before people forget odors and scents. Even after years, we can still remember distinct odors. Further, odors are processed in the limbic system, an area associated with memory and emotions. As such, smelling a certain odor can trigger in us certain memories from our past.
Oscar Mejia creates scents that embody people’s inspirations and experiences
The mission of Mejia is to create scents that embody the inspirations and experiences of persons, places and brands. He has created custom scents not only for individuals, but also for companies.
Tadhana (Destiny), Mejia’s latest perfume, tries to capture those unexpected, sudden moments that are long-lasting. “Imagine walking in a busy street in Shibuya and then suddenly having an eye contact with this stunning person.”
Mejia developed his love for scents when he was still five, seeing his parents attend to their orchid farm and cut flower business in Davao City.
“I wanted to bottle the scent of orchid flowers kasi nawawala agad,” Mejia reminisces. In college, he majored in chemistry to learn more about the science behind perfumery. He then started creating his own scents that he started to give away to friends.
Mejia and his family in their Orchid Farm in Davao City
To hone his perfumery and get more inspiration, Mejia went to Grasse, France in 2014 to study the art from the center of European perfume design.
“Scent is highly cultural. What can be fragrant for one group of people or their interpretation of scent can be different. The ‘natural’ scent in France would be heavy and floral, whereas the ‘natural’ scent in the Philippines would be breezy and light,” he shares of his greatest insight from Grasse.
Clients have approached Mejia to develop personal scents according to their individual taste and preferences. “Customers want to capture a particular memory, inspiration, image,” he explains.
Be Contagious: One of Mejia’s scents for client Cecilia Schrijver
A Mexican client who was in love with the Philippine culture wanted a heavily-scented, smokey and oriental perfume that would remind her of the country. The description of the scent was the “velvety feel of sampaguita and translucence of capiz shells.” Mejia used essential oils of sampaguitas, ilang-ilang, vanilla, jasmine, cardamom and sandal wood.
Aside from personal scents, Mejia also develops scents for events such as weddings and product launches. He created a scent for a private sale of fragrances and jewelry by Bahay Nakpil, an ancestral house in Quiapo, Manila, that was the home of the heroes of the 1896 revolution.
Mejia enjoyed capturing the scent of the house and bringing it to a different venue, which was outside the ancestral house itself, sharing that “the scent captured the family’s hospitality and tradition – who they are, what they do and what they represent.” He mixed vanilla, lavender (the house used to smell like lavender), gardenia and green tea.
“When you develop a unique scent for an event, people can remember the happy memories during that event as they take home that unique scent,” Mejia says.
Most recently, Mejia created the Scent of Revolution and Brisas de Ylang-Ylang as part of an on-going exhibit at the Ayala Museum entitled, “Revolutionary: Julio Nakpil at 150 and Nick Joaquin at 100.”
Mejia developed two scents for the Ayala Museum Exhibit entitled “Revolutionary: Julio Nakpil at 150 and Nick Joaquin at 100”
Mejia has also had corporate clients that wanted custom scents to represent and capture their brands. Companies are now into the “olfactory marketing” trend to strengthen their brands and set themselves apart from competitors.
“In developing these scents, Mejia says, “I don’t just combine oils that smell good together. Each scent is a combination of sensory experiences. What music do you want to hear? What do you want to feel? What is the texture? What are the experiences that your brand wants the consumer to experience? What is your personality?”
For a top multi-national company that wanted a scent to represent its brand values of openness and teamwork, as well as its primary colors, Mejia created a scent with bamboo to represent teamwork. “Bamboos grow in groups, very Filipino – fresh and open,” he shares.
Indeed, scents can embody personalities, emotions, values and experiences – and this is the expertise of scientist and artist Oscar Mejia, setting him apart from the proliferation of scents being sold in malls. Each handcrafted scent has his personal touch to ensure that it embodies the soul of his clients.
It’s not just about what smells good. It’s about the scents that make us nostalgic, inspire us and move us. It’s about the scents that we will make us remember not the brand or perfumer but the joy and happiness from beautiful memories etched in our hearts.