THE EDUCATOR: FRANCIS HEMBERT
Fragrance education is critical for everyone—not only for the consumer, but for those inside the industry as well. That’s where Cinquieme Sens (French for “the fifth sense,” or sense of smell), comes in. The venerable school was founded in 1976 by Monique Schlienger, a former perfumer at Robertet and a teacher at ISIPCA in Versailles. Monique saw a need for a curriculum that would enrich the knowledge of all fragrance professionals, whether they are selling, marketing, or creating scent. More than 40 years later, guided by Francis Hembert, a former Firmenich senior executive who is now partner and president of the US affiliate in charge of international business development, Cinquieme Sens continues to lead the charge in teaching perfume pros how to contextualize and speak eloquently about the artistry and power of scent. In the US, Cinquieme Sens classes are offered in partnership with the Fragrance Foundation to its members and non-members, and its global reach is expansive, with programs in Mexico, South America, Singapore, Dubai, Mumbai, Seoul, Melbourne, and soon, Shanghai. “We want to be the educational partner of the key perfumery players in every region,” says Hembert. “And the need is stronger than ever in our increasingly complex fragrance world.” After all, the more we know, the better we can engage with each other and with consumers.
What are the specific Cinquieme Sens courses offered through the Fragrance Foundation in New York?
Since 2017, Cinquieme Sens has joined The Fragrance Foundation as their official partner for in-person perfumery training in targeting a wide range of professionals: Brand Development, Brand Marketing, Sales and Technical teams for Brands, Fragrance Houses, and Retailers. We have partnered with industry experts Kathryn Balcerski and Tami Katz of Serendipitee NYC, who are both former senior executives from fragrance creation companies, to deliver these programs to TFF members and non-members. They know fragrance from the inside out: everything about fragrance development and sales, but also about the products, the ingredients, where raw materials are harvested, and what types of extractions are used. We offer: The Techniques and Language of Perfumery; the Fragrance Development Program, and the Fragrance Sales Program. We also develop tailor-made programs for customers, depending on their objectives and needs, taking into account their budget and time constraints.
What are the key elements of each Cinquieme Sens class?
In the Techniques and Language of Perfumery Program, we introduce perfumery culture starting with history, then focus on olfactive knowledge of the key ingredients (naturals, molecules) and facets as well as their emotional impact in the fragrance creation. We also explain the sense of smell and its connection to memory and emotion, and how to leverage that to speak about perfumes. In the Fragrance Development Program, the focus is on the challenges a development team has to face (in fragrance houses and in perfumery makers) from the conceptualization of a fragrance to its finalization, and the important steps to evaluate fragrances. In the Fragrance Sales program, the main objective is to give the keys to switch from an analytical language (olfactive description) to an emotional language, as emotions drive the connection with consumers and lead to more effective sales.
Those are hard things to teach! Do Kathryn and Tami have a unique approach?
All classes are interactive. There are visual and olfactory elements to the courses. The tools include a workbook and ‘Olfactoriums’, which are miniature versions of a perfumer’s palette. Each Olfactorium is comprised of 48 vials of different scents which include raw materials, accords and perfumes specific to each training session.
What do you think is most important for the students to take away at the end?
Language is key in perfumery… The challenge is to identify what you are smelling and communicate it using the language skills we teach. It can be difficult to find that confidence, because fragrance description is so subjective—but like I said, the way to make a scent come alive is through emotion.
In addition to Retail Sales Associates, professionals working as account managers, or in marketing or development teams, or even in technical departments have to understand how fragrance is made. But they also need to learn how to speak about fragrance, to convey what they smell, or want to smell, and make that understandable for perfumers, for colleagues, and for consumers.
What has been the most rewarding feedback you’ve received from students?
When they come back and say that their Cinquieme Sens training has helped build their expertise and effectiveness in their careers!
For more information or to book these courses, please contact Mary Pelzer at the Fragrance Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.