Perfume man Edwin Bruce helps people find their scent

April 28, 2022
Bruce helps a client to mix her perfect scent.
Bruce helps a client to mix her perfect scent.
Kingston perfumer Edwin Bruce.
Kingston perfumer Edwin Bruce.

The days Edwin Bruce spent in the May Pen Market with his siblings and his mother Henrietta Douglas unknowingly prepared him for his calling as a perfumer.

At their two-bedroom home in Clarendon, the smell of succulent fruits that were not sold during the business day permeated the atmosphere.

"That was helping me become what we call in perfumery, a 'nose'. I was being trained, unintentionally being able to distinguish different scents because I was constantly in the presence of those fruits," Bruce admitted from his perfume store, Prince D'Bruce Perfumery, in Kingston. There persons can create their own fragrance as well as purchase other skin care products.

His journey to perfume making started in 1991 when he migrated to New York to work as a lab technician and met a group of Arabians who sold perfumes.

"They asked me to do labelling. I was able to do the labels just by smelling and I was able to distinguish and make all the different notes of all the different oils in the product. They were just amazed at how I was able to do that. Then it moved from me doing labelling. They now wanted me to assort the oils. So because I was able to say 'This is grapefruit, I can smell it', they couldn't understand. But this came from me being in the little space with my family and it was the memories in my subconscious that made it easy for me to distinguish the oils," Bruce said.

Bruce ditched his plans to become an attorney and went to Colombia in 2001 where he spent five years under the tutelage of master perfumer Mario Galindo, head of the perfume house called The Lab. Bruce learnt to appreciate the art of perfumery and said it provides an opportunity for persons to find their personalities in particular scents that are unique to them.

"Scent is subjective, so it is an art because you have to understand someone's body chemistry. So I want to know what evaporates beautifully for your body, will it be irritating for you and the longevity. It is an art that has to have the DNA of each person. It is the individuality that I intend to capture in a bottle," he explained. One of his limited-edition scents, 876 Luxury, with a leathery undertone added to a few spurts of papyrus, according to Bruce, is a long-lasting scent that fits the quintessential and fashionable male or female.

He was quick to debunk the myth that colognes are only made for men while women only wear perfumes, explaining that scents are only based on their concentration. When he is involved in making the oils from his home or in free demonstration classes on Saturdays, the joy he feels is unexplainable. Bruce said through his informative sessions, he is involved in the process of touching lives and training the next local perfumer.

"I am in that happy mood to know that though I did not make it as a pastor, I am still finding a way to spread love and joy. When a person gets a nice perfume from you, they hug you, that's the most emotional response. I have had people come here, and while they are blending, they are crying. Perfume is like a key to emotions; it will unlock emotions that you had there all the time, just locked away, not willing to revisit or that you did not know were there. I will remind you of a father that you lost and how your father used to smell," the Vere Technical High School graduate said.

Speaking of emotions, Bruce wiped his tears as he shared how he crafted an accord of citrus and fruit-blend scent as a tribute to his late mother who passed away last year.

Bruce is currently focused on expanding his business locally, hoping to have scent customisation marketed as a 'thing to do' for tourists.

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