Smells Like Art

From London to Belgrade: a journey through fragrant notes

Peek into the world of Zaga Čolović – Raičević, a prominent perfumer whose story connects continents and professions. From childhood memories related to fragrances to her pioneering work in the perfume industry, Čolović – Raičević shares her inspiring story. The conversation reveals her artistic view of perfume creation, the influence of the British experience on work in Serbia and her commitment to sustainability in the world of perfumery.

Can you describe to us how your childhood and early interest in fragrances influenced your career as a perfumer?

My passion for perfumes started in my early childhood, when I smelled my grandfather’s perfume for the first time – and today I keep that precious bottle as a symbol of memory. Also, I can’t forget the smell of the Magic Noir perfume my mother wore, nor the sweet smell of the lilacs in my grandmother’s garden. All those fragrant notes have deeply inspired me since the earliest days. It fascinates me how fragrances can express emotions and personality in such a subtle way. I often like to tell people that I am in the business of creating happiness, because the essence of perfume lies in its power to make us happy and fill us with joy.

Fragrances can express emotions and personality in such a subtle way

How did you manage to transfer your experience and knowledge about risk management from Great Britain to Serbia and how does it affect your work today?

After completing my master’s studies in risk management in London, I started my career working for a renowned corporation in the City of London. However, even a steady corporate job over many years was not enough to make my dreams come true. I decided to sell my flat in London so that I could invest in my own education and become a perfumer. During that process, I had the privilege of learning from the best, including an English perfumer who worked for the Royal Family. Mentored by the industry’s foremost experts, I have gained knowledge and skills that are rare and valuable. Although that education came at a high price, I believe that every moment invested was worth the effort. In my own laboratory and studio in London, I have the freedom to shape my ideas and passions, with access to a rich source of raw materials for perfume creation – a resource that is essential to my work. In addition, I use my skills in collaboration with different brands, creating perfumes according to their specifications. Transferring my experience and knowledge in the field of risk management from Great Britain to Serbia was a challenging, but at the same time inspiring process. Adapting to a new business and cultural environment required flexibility, openness to learning and understanding the specifics of the local market.

What inspires you when you create new fragrances and how does that process differ from traditional perfume making?

I find my creative inspiration in nature, and my approach is aimed at expressing deep human emotions through the fragrance notes that I carry in the bottle – they are like the soul and the heart. My creative process starts with an idea that gradually evolves into a formulation and then into the perfume itself. Essentially, I create a fragrance in my imagination before I start choosing a range of fragrance notes. This creative process can last from several months to several years. Sometimes it’s simple and sometimes challenging, but each time it’s filled with dedication and passion for the art of fragrance creation.

Perfume manufacturers will have to adapt their production processes to reduce the negative impact on the environment

How do you see the future of the perfume industry, especially in the context of sustainability and environmental awareness?

The future of the perfume industry will increasingly depend on the sustainability and environmental awareness of consumers. There is an increasing demand for natural and organic ingredients, as well as for products that are produced in a sustainable way. Perfume manufacturers will have to adapt their production processes to reduce the negative impact on the environment, using recycled and biodegradable materials, as well as to support fair trade and local communities. At The Perfume Atelier, we engage in several sustainable initiatives: refillable bottles and packaging (refill service); we use recyclable materials like glass and wood instead of plastic for our packaging; our perfume boxes are designed to be multi-purpose; we source our ingredients from sustainable and ethical suppliers, preferring natural and biodegradable materials; we produce our perfumes in limited series.

By Nikola Gudelj

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