Henrik Lestreus, Svensk Parfym:

«Creativity and routine are two motors pulling the same vehicle»

Interview with Henrik Lestreus — perfumer and owner of Svensk Parfym.

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What makes people (including yourself) choose creative jobs and undertake a research instead of doing a daily grind?

H.L.: All people have talents and all people have urges to create, and some people more than others. Why do some become creators, inventors and entrepreneurs? I believe it’s a matter of personality and resources. If you have the resources to do what you love (time, money, space) and at the same time you have the personality for great creativity and research, then you have all it takes. For me it was all about self-knowledge and a need for artistic creativity. I knew I always had a thing for fragrances since I was a child and I knew that my analytic mindset regarding fragrances always have been very active. I knew I had to create and produce something unique someday to feel professional satisfaction. I wanted to create and produce and to show fingerprints of my creative mind to the world. I put my needs and urges together to start the long journey towards creating my own brand of fine fragrances. Much studies, much work, much resources later and my fragrances are on the market. Yet with this my journey has just begun.



What is the balance between creativity and routine in perfumery? And what about brand managing?

H.L.: Creativity and routine are two motors pulling the same vehicle and the balance is perfect as there is no battle between the two. All unique inventions needs bold creativity. All constancy needs meticulous routine. In my opinion, brand managing in perfumery needs both unique inventions and total constancy - they are just different parts of the process; first invention then full systematic consistency. I never create on routine and I save no space for compromises. Svensk Parfym is a high quality fine fragrances brand and to stay on top we have to work on top.

How do you feel being the perfumer and the brand manager at the same time? Does anybody help you?

H.L.:  Luckily, I love both of the roles. For me it gives me variation and perspective. Inventing new fragrances in the laboratory is indeed very different from solving packaging issues, marketing, economy and obtaining a flawless customer service. I do much by my own. In the laboratory I work alone. In the perfumery I work alone. Beyond that I have a nice team of co-workers. I have backup from the team with all packaging issues, to produce bigger amounts and to ship bigger orders. I am lucky to have my team backing me up 100% when needed.



You studied chemistry and physics. That’s clear enough about chemistry. I wonder how a perfumer can use his knowledge in physics?

H.L.: Fragrant molecules are non-reagent structures, keys to our mind and soul, either sitting on surfaces or floating around in the air. The volatility and airborne behaviour of these fantastic molecule depends totally on their structures and on environmental physical circumstances, temperature and humidity being the most important ones.

Is Svensk Parfym a niche brand? What do you think about niche?

H.L.: Niche perfumery is specialist perfumery with all focus on perfume. Designer perfumes comes from brands that sells all sorts of things; clothes, shoes, bags, makeup, you name it. Svensk Parfym is definitely a niche brand in the sense that we focus entirely on fine fragrances. Niche is the best you can find if there is much dedication and talent behind it and consequently niche is very poor if there isn’t.



You call your fragrances gender-free instead of using the common mark «unisex». What is the difference?

H.L.: I think the word and concept of “unisex” stands for indifference. I don’t like indifference. I like difference. In fact I love differences. We are all different. I prefer to categorise Svensk Parfym fragrances as gender-free because I want to signalise that anyone anywhere should think and feel by themselves what they want - freely and with all differences preserved.

You said that you released your creativity and expression through music, writing, drawing and painting before stopping in perfume making. Nevertheless, you find your inspiration in Swedish landscapes and weather. Do you really believe that the nature is stronger and more significant than art?

H.L.: This is how I wanted to be understood concerning this:

I have always been a creator of art, in different forms. Inspiration could come from anything in life and end up like music in the air, acrylics on a canvas or fragrant molecules in a test tube. You just have to have the will, the knowledge and the resources for it. Svensk Parfym is a fine fragrances brand that focus entirely on Sweden and it’s a theme that will follow throughout its whole line of products. Why? Because it feels genuinely right to me. It’s not make-believe. It’s real, it inspires me and it controls me, just like the canvas controls the painter.

Two of three of your fragrances contain musk. Tell me please which opportunities modern science gives to substitute the natural musk taken from musk deer? Is that an adequate substitution?

H.L.: Two of three fragrances has musk as their main characteristics. However, all my fragrances contain musk in one way or another. There is a huge difference. You see, blending perfume without musk is like baking  cakes without butter; hopeless.

Musk is a category of large fragrant molecules with specific molecular structures, which can be found in flora as well as in fauna. I use only laboratory made musks or molecular copies of natural musks in my production, as musks from natural sources are either more expensive than gold or prohibited by law. I also find all laboratory made musks cleaner, clearer and much nicer to use and therefor also most definitely adequate.

Your fragrance Stilla is dedicated to Swedish frosty winter. Does that mean that it’s better to wear Stilla in the winter?

H.L.: When Stilla was invented it was originally thought of as a spring/summer fragrance inspired by it’s antithesis. Stilla has a sort of clear cooling feel to it mimicking crisp, light herbal, lightly flowery, woody and earthy molecules exposed to significantly lower temperatures. However, Stilla fits exceptionally well being used on hot summer days, soothing with its cooling feel. That is how I use it myself. You see, Stilla is a personal favourite of mine. I use it often and it’s wonderful to wear on a classy white shirt. Stilla performs elegantly, transforming with time but also lasting all day long. The only thing I really wish to tell you all is to try it on, think, feel and decide for yourselves. It will soon be clear for you if and when you wish to use it for yourself.

Raspberry in Virke and eucalyptus in Stilla sound quite natural. Have you used any natural materials for them?

​​​​​​​H.L.: There are plenty of natural materials in all my fragrances but there are also some laboratory made nature copy fragrance molecules with excellent performance and sustainability.

What will your future fragrances look like? How soon do you plan to release something new?

​​​​​​​H.L.: The line of fragrances of Svensk Parfym will continue to grow as inspiration and creativity comes along - always unique, generous and progressing. I am currently working on a couple of new exciting launches for this upcoming autumn and winter 2017 - with fragrances that are more intended for use during colder weather. Svensk Parfym will launch some really unique and beautiful perfumes this autumn. You will see. Talking about upcoming projects I want to take the chance to ask you all to follow Svensk Parfym on Facebook and on Instagram to always have access to the latest news, most exciting projects and events.

What is your vision of the future of Svensk Parfym?

​​​​​​​H.L.: ​​​​​​​Fantasising about the future I visualise an excellent growing line of Svensk Parfym fragrances as people all over the world start realising its uniqueness and quality and I see Svensk Parfym opening brand stores in some mayor cities worldwide. However, we take it slowly step by step. No rush. The most important for me is undoubtedly the everyday customer care and the attention to details in the whole process. For me in that sense the present is everything and the future is nothing. The future is a blank paper, a song not yet though of.



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