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Art of Perfumery: Master Perfumer Rajiv Sheth's Quest to Bring Premium Fragrances To India

I wanted to create fragrances that would be true to our culture, reflect our heritage, and make us proud, Sheth says

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"While India is yet to catch up in the luxury perfume market globally, there is a huge demand for luxury fragrances in India, not just in metros but also in Tier II and Tier III cities,"  says Rajiv Sheth, Master Perfumer & Founder of All Good Scents. 

Sheth's journey as a Master Perfumer is a story of passion, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence. His fascination for the art of perfumery led him all the way to France's ISIPCA, a very exclusive school founded in 1970 by Jean Jacques Guerlain, where he became the first Indian to attend the school for post-graduation. "It was like a fragrance lover's dream come true," says Sheth, "to learn from some of the best' noses' in the world, to be surrounded by the raw materials, to breathe in the scents and to learn the art of perfumery in its birthplace."

But his journey was not without its challenges. The entire course was taught in French, and he had to learn the language in order to understand the teachings. "It was like trying to decipher a secret code," he says, "but as a result, I discovered and learned the very secretive prestige perfumery, recognised the world over, not only for the beautiful perfume bottles and its fragrances, but also for their in-depth knowledge about its raw materials, extraction processes, manufacturing techniques, packaging designs, and their savoir-faire."

In 2000, Rajiv's hard work and dedication paid off when he was awarded the second prize for the 'Young Perfumers Award' in Paris by the Société Française des Parfumeurs. It was a proud moment for Sheth and a validation of his skills as a perfumer. But despite this achievement, he couldn't shake off a nagging question that had been on his mind since returning to India - "Why is there still no recognised brand of perfumes in India?"

After completing his studies, Sheth returned to India, eager to use his newfound knowledge. He began his career as a junior perfumer in the family business of exporting essential oils under the guidance of Master perfumer Maurice Maurin. "It was like being an apprentice to a master chef." He adds, "I was learning the craft from someone who had dedicated their entire life to it."

Sheth couldn't understand why a country with such a rich culture and history that has given the world so many precious raw materials could not produce a single recognisable brand of perfumes. He realised that the Indian perfumery industry was still in its infancy and had much-untapped potential. He decided to take matters into his own hands and started a homegrown fragrance brand in India, All Good Scents. 

"I wanted to create fragrances that would be true to our culture, reflect our heritage, and make us proud," he says. "I wanted to create fragrances that would be an ode to India." And so, he embarked on a journey to create fragrances that would express India's rich culture, history, and diversity.

Sheth's line of fragrances is like a journey through India; with Eternal Garden, he wrote a love letter to India, a tribute to its diversity and richness. With signature collections like Urbane Nights, Love & Joy, Evoke, Arise, and Lolette, he created scents that complimented the rising urban Indian and the stories they were to tell. 

According to a Statista report, Revenue in the Fragrances segment (which does not include room scents or deodorants and antiperspirants) amounts to US$237.9m in 2021. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.84% (CAGR 2021-2026). 

But starting a D2C perfume brand is challenging, especially when building trust with customers and getting them to understand and purchase a scent without being able to smell it first in a physical store. For Sheth, it was a challenge that required creative thinking. 

"One of the biggest difficulties was getting customers to understand and appreciate the quality of the fragrances without being able to smell them first." He states. And with this, he introduced the concept of Scentbox™, where users could try 3 perfumes for the price of ?199 from the comfort of their homes. The aim here was to encourage fragrance users and lovers to try the perfumes on their own time and easily. 

Today, the popularity of the All Good Scents  Scentbox™ has led them to introduce three new Discovery Sets that allow users to try 10 perfumes from the various ranges the brand offers. 

But this wasn't enough for Sheth, "the perfume industry is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay ahead of the curve and be able to pivot quickly when necessary." 

And so, in 2022, he introduced India's first-of-its-kind range of perfumes that allowed one to explore and experiment with fragrances on a daily basis, AGS Pairing. This range consists of 10 perfumes divided into, Top notes, Middle notes and Base notes. 

"While pairing or cocktailing of fragrances has been around in a few countries, it has not taken centre stage. With AGS Pairing, people can now try out a variety of notes of fragrances separated into three categories; top notes, heart notes and base notes - and decide for themselves which fragrance they want to pair with another. It's a personal choice - and is about creating a customised, unique, game-changing scent." Explains Sheth. 

This is only the beginning of Sheth's journey with All Good Scents. Aside from creating fine fragrances for personal use, he has introduced Pillow Mists (2023) and a variety of soy-scented candles to encourage Indians to use scents as a daily part of their lives and instil them in their routine. 

With the rapid growth of the online market revenue share in India expected to reach 18.2 per cent compared to 2021's 9.1 per cent, the expectations of India's first D2C fragrance house, with an established customer base across the country, is one that is both exciting and intriguing. 


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