Making reliable fragrances is a hard thing to achieve in this competitive industry. Froma F&F seems to have got it. We talked to the ceo of the company about the fragrance industry and what inspires him on a daily basis.
Abdullah Zekeriya Çelik - The Fragrance Man
You formed Froma F&F in 1996. What kind of changes have happened in the sector in the last 20 years?We witnessed a lot of fast changes in the sector since founding Froma F&F in 1996. During the last 20 years, Turkey has strongly established its place in the international fragrance and flavor sector, became an important supplier to the international markets, especially the Middle East. The creative and high quality solutions we offer in design and production, as well as the advantages of our geographic location have made Turkey a much more meaningful player in the sector. Another important thing in the sector is the tremendous increase in exports that happened in the last 20 years. I also have to add that the increase in the range of products and the development of Turkish cosmetic sector is very important.
What kind of research and development process did the brand go through?Ever since we started our journey in 1996 as a distributor, we prioritized our investment in the Research and Development (R&D) and creation areas. Before we invested in the production aspects, we accumulated our know-how, invested in education and equipment geared towards R&D. We always had the biggest staff in our R&D department and Fragrance Development (F&D) department. We started our process by creating our own recipes, and continued with our factory and production facilities. As you know, the fragrance and essential oils sector invests more in raw material, high quality employment and education rather than production. When I look back and I see that our goals from the very beginning have been about investment and employment, I don’t find it a surprise that we are a mature brand compared to our young age. The Golden Ratio which we incorporated to our new logo on our 20th year anniversary represents this as well. The Golden Ratio represents the perfect harmony between the pieces of a whole, and for us this means putting all the pieces together one by one by taking small but confident steps.
What is a day like in the office for you?We are a big team, and have franchises, representatives and distributors both nationwide and internationally. We see all of these teams as one of our departments. I regularly have consultations with these teams, this way we are able to stay up-to-date in regards to the expectations of customers as well as changes in the market. I have to confess though, my favorite hours of the day are when we do the new product presentation of fragrance development. I get a chance to experience and evaluate the new products before they leave for the world to be experienced and used by consumers. That’s a different world, full of design, art, success and even magic. I cannot put a value on these hours, they’re very precious to me.
Which of your fragrances are the most successful?Because of the demands of the sector, and the large quantity of our own raw materials and designs, we offer a large portfolio of products. The main goal products of our company are the personal care group products, and within these our perfume fragrances are very successful. I am especially proud of our dominance on the oriental group, which has become trendy in the last years.
You believe that quality starts from the seed when it comes to fragrance design and production. Can you explain this further?Our slogan 'creation from seed to the world’ is the basis of what we do. We are also very passionate about our sustainability policies. Everything starts from the seed, the rest of the process includes wind, soil, emotion, soul, freedom, design and scent. Since our main raw materials come from nature, we had to include natural elements. Seed, wind and soil are natural elements that mankind cannot intervene with, so what you can do is to choose the best seed from the best soil and leave the rest to the designer’s emotions and let them translate this into unique designs. Every special design reaches different places around the world. It’s a perfect collaboration between nature and man, and it is very important for us to keep this perfect cycle going, respect nature as well as understand and tell the importance of sustainability.
Which direction is the sector leaning towards in terms of fragrances?I can say that there are all kinds of trends that would make every type of customer happy in 2016. Natural products are still very important, new gourmet type fragrances are still going strong with a strong devoted consumer base. In terms of gourmet scents, we will continue to see caramel, chocolate and berries in many products but especially in the fragrance of bath products. For the floral and oriental fragrance lovers, violet and freesia will continue to rise as well as oud and orientals. People from many different parts of the world like the combination of oud and spices with different flowers. I am certain that we will continue to smell oud designs mixed with musk.
What perfume do you use?My job allows me to know the current new products in the global market as well as our own new designs. I get the chance to try products that our E&D team’s special designs when they present it before they become available to the general market. Lately I’ve been using two from this specific group; one is called Harmony and the other one Turquoise. Harmony is very masculine and assertive with the world being its geography. If mythological characters used a perfume, I think they would choose Harmony. Its song is very rhythmic with lots of base sounds. On the other hand, Turquoise encompasses the multi-cultural texture of our country. It works its masculine emphasis through emotions, it has a mosaic melody. It is all about Turkey with its scent and color. I also have to mention a perfume from the international market, Eau Savage is one of my favorite scents.
What were the star products Froma F&Fproduced?We’ve had so many exciting projects, it would be hard to pick one. The oriental scents are the leaders amongst our most successful projects. It is always a big excitement to see a Turkish product on the shelves of a store in another corner of the world where we don’t directly export. For example the Dubai Mall uses our fragrances to scent their interior space and this gives us great joy every time we visit the region.
"THE MAIN FACTOR FOR THE PRODUCT TO SUCCEED IS FOR IT TO BE USED IN THE RIGHT PLACE WITHIN THE CORRECT PRODUCT GROUP"
Do you have international collaborations?We work with some of our customers with whom we have had a working relationships for a long time. These types of collaborations include franchising, becoming agencies or exclusivity deals to serve that region in the most efficient way.
What do you remember from the last trip you took?A 15-day trip to the South of France has left many unforgettable marks on me. It was a special organization around the harvesting time of lavender and sage. We visited the distillation units and witnessed all the processes that go into the production. It reminded me once again the importance of sustainability in our business and the world, which always starts with the seed.
You must travel a lot. Do you add new fragrance discoveries from your personal trips to your collection?Whether I am on a personal trip or a business trip, I always take my sample bottles with me. In fact I have to confess that they are the first things I pack. Technology allows us to take the smell of a new flower we experience for the first time, put it in a tube, and extract its scent when we get back to the laboratory. This allows us to create new products for our portfolio and it is an exciting process.
What makes a scent attractive?If a scent is created with the right raw materials, designed by knowledgeable and experienced people, I don’t think it can be distinctly identified as good or bad. The main factor for the product to succeed is for it to be used in the right place within the correct product group. The main criteria actually lies in identifying correctly the expectation of the consumer. At Froma F&F, we put a lot of work and effort in determining the consumer’s expectations, classifying the years, seasons, age median and scent tendencies according to geography and culture. A perfume which would be very attractive in one region, may very well have little success in another region with a different cultural past and genetic codes.
What are your thoughts about Turkey’s place in the global fragrance sector?When you look at the history of the sector, Turkish fragrance sector is still very new, however it solidified its place in the sector due to its advantageous geographic placement. Turkey is close to Eastern regions where fragrance is consumed heavily, as a country we used this chance wisely and created a strong foundation for long term collaborations.The creative side of Turkish people and the fastly developing fragrance sector will definitely give Turkey a strong say in the global market in the upcoming years.
What kind of differences are there between the international orders and the requests that you receive from national brands?The differences aren’t only between international and national orders, the demands of the Turkish brands also vary depending on the regions they import and sell to. One things I have to mention is that Turkish people tend to choose floral or citrusy scents which is what we mostly sell in the internal market.