Yosh Han is one of those people who was lucky enough to recognize her passion early on; a heightened olfaction led her to the perfume industry. Now she has her own business based in San Francisco, lines at Fred Segal and Barneys New York, and a travel schedule that takes her around the world looking for the perfect ingredients to create her signature scents.
AC: What is your typical day like?
Yosh: I don’t think I have a truly consistent schedule. Each day is spontaneous and filled with infinite possibilities. The priorities shift depending on the season, but generally, there are business-related activities that I have to pay attention to which include financial projections and bookkeeping. I love bank deposit day! Then there are days where I concentrate on marketing and press. This is also exciting because this drives me to think creatively on how to get my message out there in a way that is truly unique to my product. I also set aside time to organize production and distribution, which usually depends on sales, what’s happening with inventory, and how much is selling. There are also days where I set aside sacred time for playing with my essences. This is a truly magical experience where I lose track of time and forget about all the other parts of running my business. The aromatics are the driving force behind everything else. Otherwise, I may as well be selling widgets.
AC: How did you get where you are?
Yosh: About thirteen years ago, I was living in Aspen, Colorado. I was very young at the time and didn’t realize how expensive a town it was to live there. So I was wandering around looking for a second job. I came across a boutique that had a wall full of bottles. I didn’t know what kind of store it was, but I knew it was where I wanted to work. When I asked them for a job, they said they weren’t hiring. I bypassed the manager and spoke to the owner who took a chance on giving me a job. The bottles turned out to be flasks of essences, and I fell in love with them. Flash forward to 2002. A friend of mine invited me to work at 826 Valencia’s Pirate Store in San Francisco. At the time, I thought it would be fun to create a line of Pirate Perfumes. From there, I started to receive artistic commissions from individuals and corporations like the San Francisco Opera. I decided, after some time, to move on and start my own business in 2004. Early on, I got a fantastic write up in Town and Country. Fred Segal was one of my first big retail accounts, then Barneys New York. Since then, I’ve never looked back and it just gets better and better.
AC: What do you like most about your job?
Yosh: The essences have amazing personalities and powerful characteristics that continue to amaze me. For example, sandalwood is a sacred oil that is incredible for meditation. Typically, sandalwood comes from India and recently Australia. I just found out about a new sandalwood from Africa, so there are new developments out there that I learn about firsthand before it is introduced to a consumer product. This also means that I am at the creative level where I can think about product development.
Even further, I get to travel. I was just invited to Ecuador to visit a rose farmer/distiller, and I recently went to Morocco and Ukraine on business. I love meeting the people involved in this global industry. It’s full of eccentric characters who are truly passionate about what they do.
There are so many components that involve all kinds of people—from the farmers and distillers down to the packaging people who are engineering innovative technology for fine mist pumps, to the specialists and lab technicians who are splitting molecules.
AC: What don’t you like?
Yosh: Math is not my favorite topic, so financial projections are a tough chore for me. But when I do it, and I see the opportunities unfold and manifest, it allows me to get through it. The process is not always fun and it’s not fun to have computer meltdowns!
AC: How much money do you make?
Yosh: When I started out, my parents were nervous for me, but I have been able to work for myself now since 2005. I’ve since built a business that allows me to work with an incredible team of people who are supporting my vision. Additionally, I am now able to divide my time between San Francisco and New York (when I’m not globetrotting). So for me, following my dream and creating abundance on my terms is very rewarding.
AC: Can you share your favorite fragrance and explain how you created it?
Yosh: I believe that each of us has at least four different personalities. Our public persona and the one we share with friends and family. Another is when we spend alone time, as well as our alter ego who also inspires our dreams and visions. For me, Ginger Ciao is my alter ego—she’s daring, confident, and a risk taker. She’s comprised of all my favorite ingredients, black coconut, sandalwood, neroli, ylang ylang, basil, and ginger. She’s also based on a main character of a novel I’m working on.
When people smell and wear this fragrance, there is certainly an energetic shift. People who resonate with this fragrance tend to be people who are living large. That’s what I love about this fragrance. Ginger Ciao just magnifies and amplifies everyone’s best lives.
Photo courtesy of Yosh Han