Thursday, December 29, 2011

pancakePROFILES: 10 Questions for Yosh Han of YOSH Olfactory Sense

While circling the table that was home to the magical bourbon ball cake pops at the Industrie Denim Launch Party, I was fortunate enough to meet San Francisco based perfumer, Yosh Han. We bonded over those delicious balls and got to talking about ourselves. Yosh, whose perfumes have been featured in notable publications including Vanity Fair (USA/Italy), Vogue (USA/Italy/Germany/Russia), Glamour, Allure, and Elle (just to name a few), takes pride in using the finest ingredients from all over the world to create special artisanal fragrances and vibrational perfumery. I was so intrigued to find such a creative and successful mind, that I had to ask Yosh for an interview. Luckily for me and you, she gladly obliged.

1. Introduce yourself! Where are you from, what brought you to San Francisco, and what do you do here?
I love experiencing new cultures, so I've moved around a bit. Growing up in LA, I felt I a calling to be near the mountains of Colorado. When I wasn't skiing, I worked in a perfumery. After 4 winters, I moved to Europe for the next 3 years traveling all over using The Netherlands as home base. The next two years, I relaxed on 100 acres in horse country in Northern Virginia. While I was living there, a friend of mine asked me to move to San Francisco to open the Pirate Store in the Mission. How could I resist? On a whim, I decided to make Pirate Perfumes. Soon other artists, writers and boutiques asked me to make their perfumes. One thing led to the next and now I have my own independent business designing perfumes that retail around the world.

2. How did you get into the perfume industry? How did you know that this is what you wanted to do? 
It was by accident really. I walked into a store in Aspen and knew immediately that I wanted to work there. The Chinese character for my name YOSH means 'aroma' so one could say that it was kismet that I became a perfumer.

3. How do you go about creating your perfumes? How long does the process take, and what inspires you when you are creating your scents? 
My perfumes are based on moods and personalities. The newest one, Sombre Negra, means Black Shadow. I felt inspired by our shadow selves - the side that we're supposed to hide. But really, how can we be expected to be happy all the time? 

4.  What is unique about your perfumes? What makes YOSH different and special? 
Each fragrance is attuned energetically and resonates with chakra energies and numerology. I used both natural and technology based materials.

5. What’s your advice on picking the perfect scent for yourself? And do you have a favorite perfume?
In the past, people had one perfume that became their signature scent. But the trend now is to wear different fragrances depending on your mood, season or fashion. My favorite in my collection is Ginger Ciao - it has black coconut, ylang ylang, night blooming jasmine, sandalwood and ginger. It's tropical and sensual.

6. Now that 2011 is coming to a close, what are some goals you would like to achieve for YOSH in 2012?
I hope to expand to the UK, Canada, Australia and Japan.

7. What is your favorite place in San Francisco for: Food? Drinks? Shopping? People Watching? And…any other hidden gems from our city that you would like to share?
My favorite places...
CHOCOLATE: -- Love the rose caramel -- The factory tour is amazing - the smell of chocolate is so decadent! - The caramel rosemary is to die for

TEA: / Coffee - We have coffee snobs / local roasters here - They have a tea called ocean of wisdom, which I love --- custom blended for the Dalai Lama!


My go-to-hole in the wall:

Food / Art  gallery:

COCKTAILS: - They have one called Gilded Lily with real gold in it. My friend, another perfumer also has a fragrance called the gilded lily. Funny coincidence.

GIVING BACK: - these are my main pet charities ---The pirate store!


Great produce (other than whole foods):
I buy all my seafood here. It's the best.

Amazing for bulk - especially herbs, loose teas and natural body care products.

Great charcuterie -- This is one that we filmed...I love the smell of pork here.

Best fro yo & ice cream:

Best cheese:

8. San Francisco has recently turned up the volume in style and fashion. What do you think about San Francisco style and how does it play a part in your life? Do you ever style your outfits based on a perfume you’re wearing that day?  
San Francisco style is really low key. There's pressure to not wear any labels but still look fashionable. This means that we support independent designers but have a refined sense of quality and style. It's quirky but also bold. It's important here to look good without looking like you made a big effort.

I encourage people to choose their perfume first - before they get dressed because when you do that, you acknowledge how you're feeling in the moment. Most people are harried, late, stressed trying to getting to work in the morning. Then they look in the mirror and are horrified by their fashion crises. But if you stop to acknowledge your mood first, then choose the fragrance, it just sets the energy for the day or evening. If you're feeling flirty, you might wear a sensual fragrance. Then you can choose your wardrobe more easily. 

9. This is a silly question I like to ask everyone for my interviews because I feel it’s very telling. If you could be any kitchen appliance, which one would you be and why? 
At the moment, I'm absolutely in love with my Nespresso machine. I only wish George Clooney were here to make my cappuccino for me every morning.

10.  What is your advice for others who are interested in starting their own businesses?
Young people take rejection personally. But I've learned that the answers are often in timing and not personal at all. So when someone says 'No' what they mean is Yes, but later.  But most people, if they hear the word no, take it like it's a death sentence. But for me, I find a way to find the Yes. 

BONUS: And of course, what is your favorite pancake flavor and why?
Butter, real maple syrup and fresh strawberries. 

All images c/o Yosh

Yosh's perfumes can be found at Barneys New York, Lucky Scent, Henri Bendel, many haute perfumeries throughout Europe, and now exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue in Dubai. I had the pleasure of sampling a few of Yosh's scents and I have to tell you, they are absolutely entrancing. For those who are looking for their own signature scent or the perfect gift for someone special, Yosh also creates custom perfumes and colognes! If you would like to get in contact with Yosh or have any questions, feel free to email me or check out her website here

And as an added bonus, Yosh is offering two vibrational perfumery workshops in the upcoming year.

"In this workshop, we will smell aromatic essences and explore perfume design: composition and editing. We will cover a bit of history and basic technical info on top, middle and base notes. We’ll also talk about fragrance families. Based on intuition and chakra energies, each participant will create their own Aromatic Attunement in a flacon or roll-on bottle."

Saturday, Jan 7th at 1:00 - 4:30 PM and Sunday, Feb 17th at 9:30 AM - 1PM

A very special thank you to Yosh for taking the time to answer all my questions! Stay tuned for more interviews to come next year! Don't forget to enter my giveaway with JewelMint & StyleMint for your chance to win a piece of your own choosing!


  1. How cool is that you met her at the Industrie Denim event? Great interview! Would love to check out her scent sometime soon! xo

  2. Great interview! Love the photos too



i love it when you whisper sweet nothings to me.

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