Our fragrance creations

As you know, at MINIMALS we’re all about sustainability and transparency. Today we'd like to give you a look behind the scenes and tell you how we create our fragrances - we spoke to the founder of RAER Scents, Ted Rohn. Together with Ted, we have developed the fragrance for our wonderful Awakening Care and Reviving Cleanse product line - new creations with him are in the pipeline. 

RAER Scents is a Berlin based, natural perfume house. They create unique, 100% botanical perfumes using only ethically sourced, sustainable plant ingredients.

Anna: Hi Ted, thanks for having me today! We are sitting here in your beautiful atelier which Klaudia and I totally fell in love with. Tell us something about yourself.

Ted: I started as an Art Director for fashion. I worked for various fashion houses, mostly on advertising creation and branding. I was working with Tom Ford, Gucci, YSL, I worked with a lot of perfume projects there and I had a really long passion with perfuming. It’s always been just a little bit of obsession and when I moved to Berlin I thought: Ok it is time to start my own thing. I really love perfuming and I was looking for this kind of perfume which were 100% natural and also still really modern and daring, you know something that has real personality to it. That didn’t exist so I created my own.

A: When was that?

T: So we’ve been around 5 years now which has been a roller coaster ride, wonderful and difficult but in the end very rewarding and I am very proud of our brand.

A: You already mentioned that your perfumes are 100% natural, let me put this into broader perspective: What does sustainability mean to you?

T: Sustainability in perfuming is a topic we need to start focusing on. The perfuming industry wants to keep the discussion just about packaging, but we need to talk about ingredients. A lot of perfume is just not sustainable. When we talk about synthetic ingredients, 99% of them are derived from fossil fuels. I don’t think that’s a sustainable approach. I think using farming wisely - sustainably and ethically in tune with the idea that this farm has to produce for generations and not just one or two harvests - I think that is much more long time sustainable. We only use natural ingredients and for us that means direct plant extractions. First degree physical extraction process from the plant.

A: What does it mean?

T: They are basically essential oils from the plants. The process is physically extracting the materials using the physical properties of the materials to boil of the materials to volatile in the air and then condensing them so what hasn’t boiled off forms into an oil.

Can we keep talking about sutainability? We spend a lot of our energy making sure that we use the best ingredients, but also making sure they’re from sustainable sources. We work direct with farmers, and we even started growing our own ingredients this year so that we can have a full overview of the process. That sets us so far apart from the rest of the industry’s approach. For example everyone is addicted to Oud at the moment and Oud is super unsustainable. Oud comes from a tree that has a virus in it and so the process for oud is very long. The tree has to catch this virus and then fight it off. It takes about 20 years for Oud to form in the tree and it forms in only one of around 100 trees. To find it, they chop down these 100 trees for the one that has Oud in it and then they leave the other 99. Another example is Mysore Sandalwood which is super over harvested. They take down all these old grown trees and just chop it for sandalwood and they put it in everything from soap to perfume to whatever room scent that you have at home at super low price and they don’t replant. For RAER Scents, we found Mysore Sandalwood from a sustainable source who plant the sandalwood just for perfuming and they keep renewing it. That’s what is important for us. Some ingredients that we use like Guaiac Wood is at risk, but we only use the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Editor’s note) approved Guaiac Wood. For us it is about the sourcing. We are getting these from farmers that are reliable and sustainable and making sure that everyone along the process is paid well. A lot of perfuming ingredients are growing in developing nations so we try to ensure that they are extracted on site and money value is added in the country where it is growing. It helps local economies as well.

A: Apart from RAER Scents, do you see a change in the perfume industry towards sustainability?

T: Oh, so slowly. There are all these conversations about switching to natural processes. I just think the industry is so reluctant to change right now. I am sure you see it too in the cosmetics industry. Like packaging, I personally think that recycled plastics are not sustainable. It has to be an entirely different reframed conversation and what we are having right now is like moving on the Titanic.

A:  Totally agreed. What would you say is going wrong in the industry at the moment? Or - If you would be on top of this whole industry, where would you put focus at right now?

T: I think a part of the issue with perfuming is that there is no transparency in the industry. Perfume and Alcohol are the only two consumer products that do not have to legally declare their full ingredients on the label. I think that allows a lot of the industry’s sins to be hidden. Consumers have no idea what’s in their perfume; no idea where the ingredients come from or how they’re made. Big companies know that they won't really be held accountable right now, so they don’t feel the need to change right away. Actually becoming sustainable will mean huge alterations in the way they operate. It will have to happen eventually, but the big corporations are trying to put it off for as long as possible. 

A: It is the same in the cosmetic industry. Very similar and a lot of greenwashing of course.

T: There’s so much of that. At Raer Scents, we’re examining at every step what we do and trying to do better. But because the conversation is so quiet and consumer’s knowledge level is still stuck at “is it organic?”, I think most of our customers don’t even have a grasp of what we’re doing or what efforts we take. We just launched new sustainable bottle caps. They’re made of porcelain; the ones we used before were made of waste metal but it wasn’t recyclable – the industry standard is plastic, of course. It took us a full year of development on the porcelain to get it to look and feel right (and to fit on the bottle.  

A: It’s a bit depressing but on the other hand we see that we can make a change.

T: This is important. This information has to be out there. What it means and what real strategies towards sustainability are. We are not the most sustainable brand that we can be and our goal is always to move closer, always to do better and to be a little bit more in line to how we want to be in this world.

A: Let’s talk a bit about the wonderful product we have created together!

T: It was really exciting. Thank you for choosing us. I was really happy to work on it.

A: Thank you so much, we are super happy about it, too. It was so inspiring to work with you. Also I’m really proud of the outcome, I think we created something truly special. As our first project, we created the scent for our two products, the Awakening Care Body Lotion and the Reviving Cleanse Hand and Body Wash, what do you think is special about it, what do you like most about it?

T: You know what I love about these two products is that you can really understand the natural ingredients in them. You feel that these come directly from plants, you feel the energy of the plants in them. I’m very proud of the scents we created. We always talk about the labour that goes into our ingredients, how they’re the result of hard work, generations of knowledge and the care and love of so many hands involved in the farming, harvesting and extracting, so we always feel that its important in our role as perfumes to respect and do right by these ingredients. To make sure we make something beautiful from these efforts. We’ve all made something that all of us can be proud of. 

A: Is there any favourite ingredient in there that you would like to talk about?

T: So we use a Bergamot from West Ionia. It smells bright and pure, and you understand that this is a plant that grows and thrives in the sunshine.

Also, we have this amazing Cedar. I love to use it because it is incredibly sustainable. It is taken from the scraps from furniture factory. These are furniture factories that use the Cedar and at the end of the day there is all this dust and scraps on the floor and they take all of that and extract it to this amazing, beautiful oil.

A: I love this idea.

T: This is how it should be looking. This is the future! Making something so incredibly beautiful from waste.

A:  We already talked about sourcing and its important role for the question of sustainability before, maybe you could dive again into this topic with regards of our raw materials.

T: We work with farmers who use principles of regenerative farming. For example, we use this Clary Sage that comes from a farming collective in the South of France. So it’s grown on a few different parcels of land owned by the collective, and they make sure that they are growing in a way that leaves the soil stronger and more rich than before. Clary Sage is a beautiful ingredient, a traditional perfuming ingredient that gives roundness and elegance… it adds a velvety texture. I’d say it’s a bit of a perfumer’s secrete weapon. It’s such a luxurious ingredient. 

A: I personally also love the Ginger in there, it is truly energising!

T: In the Traditional Chinese Medicine, you take Ginger to activate your Qi, your life force Ginger gives you a bit of a push, it energises you and gives you vitality, which makes Reviving Cleanse a really amazing morning shower gel.

A: Lastly, let’s talk a bit about the process of us working together!

T: What was really great of us working together was a team effort on both sides. We both worked to find something that was really beautiful. You had this idea of the material that you wanted and the flavour of the scent that you wanted. I was really impressed of your knowledge of ingredients. It was really nice to work with someone who had the clear idea of what they wanted. It was a really beautiful partnership I think.

A: We think so too and looking forward to many more to come. So much fun to work with you and super inspiring for us. Working with you gave us so many new ideas of products we want to develop.

T: Thank you. Again I am really thankful for the opportunity and very proud of the result. It is beautiful.

Stay tuned, we already have new creations in the pipeline, more in our newsletter and on Instagram. We look forward to your questions and comments at info@minimals.de