An inspired conversation with Melbourne couple Josh Mihan and Julia Brown, founders of fragrance line Mihan Aromatics. We chat about the inspiration behind each scent and how to navigate the range.
For anyone new to Mihan, how would you like them to first experience it?
It’s pretty exciting when you first discover a new scent. It is intoxicating, alluring and intriguing. The exciting thing is the power of scent will often generate conversation, interaction and a feeling of connectedness between two beings. Fragrance is a sensory experience. It’s important to close your eyes and allow your mind and heart to be guided by the thoughts and memories evoked by the smell.
Can you share a little bit about the four fragrances in your range and what inspired the individual aromas?
This is a fragrance that comes from our love of Melbourne parks. We escape there after a busy day and instantly feel grounded and invigorated. We spend hours picnicking with friends on weekends, laughing and listening to music. There is nothing better than walking your dog on a crisp Autumn day through Edinburgh Gardens and looking up at the canopy of colour. We honestly love the parks so much that we said ‘I do’ and celebrated our wedding day in Fitzroy Garden. You instantly escape the hustle of the city and feel centred and a feeling of ‘no worries!’
This is a scent that encapsulates Australian Summer. Lazing around the pool edge sun baking; running through the hot sand to dive into the waves, being refreshed by the coolness of the ocean. We have grown up holidaying on the Great Ocean Road and when we can’t make the trip we head to our local Fitzroy Pool. There is nothing better then quenching your thirst with a gin and tonic whilst you can smell the sea salt in your hair. This is why we chose to combine cucumber and juniper berry with coconut, which is the epitome of summer. By spritzing Sienna Brume it transports us to our favourite beaches around the world.
Everyone has a wild side and this is ours. This scent is extremely deviant and represents our extravagant side of going to late night parties and opulent dinners with every intent to have as much fun as we can. It oozes sexiness and confidence—only to be worn by the guilty at heart.
Going on to Series two we wanted to delve into more of a conceptual way of thinking and to start moving away from the experiences of our relationship and instead focus on the experiences of Australia. Petrichor is the most amazing word in the world and there is not one person in Australia who hasn’t had the experience of feeling totally revitalised and calm due to the smell of rain falling on dry land after a long hot summer. This scent has complex earthy tones topped with floral notes to represent rain over the countryside. Petrichor Plains will spark nostalgia and romance and we hope the individual wearing this parfum will feel energised, rejuvenated and melodious.
Each scent in the collection is expressed through actions and emotive gestures rather than notes. How would you describe your unique and unexpected approach to scent profiling?
We have always been strong believers that the interpretation of smell is extremely individualised depending on past experiences. Not everyone knows what saffron smells like for example. Instead of following the traditional perfume scent profiling of top, middle, base we are more focused on the ability to generate emotion and feelings.
Can you talk us through the process of sourcing ingredients and selecting suppliers for your range?
Sustainable sourcing is incredibly important to us—especially with all the harmful ingredients included in perfume these days. Alcohol is often added to parfum concentrates during the maturation process to help everything mix and commercial brands steer towards cheaper alcohol—generally so they can maximise profits. It can cause sensitivity and drying and in some cases alter the scent of the product. We are very proud to mature our fragrance with organic natural sugarcane which we source from sustainable farms in northern QLD, this is the most gentle, soothing ingredient that you can use in perfume and will not harm your skin. It also helps the scent last longer on your skin. Julia’s grandfather and great grandfather come from a long line of sugarcane farmers and she used to spend her holidays up in Cairns playing and learning about this special ingredient.
Our new Parfum Oils are the perfect travel size fragrance to keep in your bag. Much like the parfums they need a carrier oil to mix with the concentrate. As we are an Australian brand we felt it was important to use native ingredients. We went right back into our history and found a super ingredient called “Kakadu Plum Seed” which indigenous people have used for years. It contains vitamin C levels out of this world plus moisturising properties which you only dream off. After lots of research we found a way to use this in our oils and we are extremely proud to source this from “Bardi Tribe” in The Kimberly. We work with a wonderful company out of Byron Bay to produce our oil collection and we are the first company in the world to use 100% native Australian oil.
What goes into transforming an idea into a fragrance—can you share with us your creative process?
This has to be one of the most enjoyable parts of our job. At the start, the most important thing is that we have a clear story with a strong vision. After that we like to get as much inspiration as possible using all platforms, including visuals, sound, feeling and then trying to get as close as we can to the environment. When we follow this process thoughtfully everything else just comes together at the end—it can take up to 6 months.
Your collection is grounded on the individual connection each of us has with scent (and the senses)—where or what is the most unusual thing to have inspired a fragrance for you?
Well funny you should ask this...we have just created a new fragrance that will launch next year! Growing up we were obsessed with the beach, surfing and just spending countless hours by the water. We had to harness this energy into a fragrance!
The fragrance is inspired by films like Endless Summer, Biggest Wednesday and Point Blank, and the beach culture of this time. The fragrance that will remind you of sweat, sand, neoprene, sex and of course the sandman. We’ll keep the name secret for now...
We’re interested to know—as perfumers working with scents everyday—what are your first ‘scent memories’?
The scents of our childhood conjure strong memories for the both of us. Josh is from the bush and remembers the distinct smell of eucalyptus trees just after it rains. Julia grew up in the country and has lovely memories of fresh cut grass and wattle trees. In fact, just thinking of those smells now makes us happy.
What are your go-to fragrances for everyday wear?
This is always a very interesting question and one that we get asked quite frequently . The answer is we don’t have set day to day fragrances and we rather let our mood, emotion and the climate of the day choose for us.
This is the special thing about fragrance and how you should build your collection. We think of fragrance like jewelry pieces—you would wear the same necklace with every outfit! We would probably wear Sienna Brume on a summer day and then steer towards Petrichor Plains if it were colder or we were going out.
Your branding is striking, elegant and effortlessly minimal. What considerations were taken when developing the look & feel of Mihan?
The most important consideration taken when developing our brand look & feel was that we wanted to create a company that was timeless and that would hopefully one day leave a legacy. We felt that every detail must be considered and nothing was to be overlooked–perfection is in the details.