Philip Birkholz | INTERVIEW
In times of overwhelming indulgences and market surplus, a person often finds himself or herself floating from offer to offer and can’t define one’s own desire, especially in things like perfume. Of course we have our preferences and likes, but wouldn’t it be lovely, if someone gives you an exact guidance in picking the ONE and only fragnance just for you?
Well, we have found that unique service in BIRKHOLZ Perfume Manufacture. It is a family run company in Berlin (Germany), that aims at assisting and supporting their customers with time and attention to detail in the search for their own, individual perfume.
I wanted to find out more and asked Philip Birkholz for an interview.
The minute I entered the PERFUME BAR of Birkholz Perfume Manufacture at Knesebeckstraße , I felt like I entered the world of exclusivity, quality and beauty. I could smell the very dark masculine alluring fragrance in the air and while I was a little bit overwhelmed by it all, Philip came into the room. He immediately makes one feel at ease so we started the interview.
Hello Philip, thank you for taking time for our interview. Please tell us a little about yourself?
Well I am a Berliner, born to an Iraqi Father and a German mother. I grew up here, went to an International School and to an American university thereafter, majoring in Marketing. So I kind of grew up speaking English and learning to be open-minded from an early age. In regard to the perfume world – I can compare myself a little to Obelix ( a french comic character ) , that particular, when he fell into the magic pot full of super powers. So I kind of fell into the world of perfume. Since chilhood I have been confronted with perfumes, fragrances, odours, aromas, thats why I see or «smell» things, that may seem to you or to any other person in a different way.
Do you have a particular style or approach to creating fragrances?
The brand BIRKHOLZ Perfume Manufacture was built to helt our guests to find their very own personal scent signature and individual scent.
I always say, the greatest compliment is that, when I see the customer smile the minute they have found their perfume! Even if they do not necessary buy anything in here, but they still go away with a whole new perspective on the perfume world, which is great. In regard to the creation of the perfume, it comes from travelling, experiences, meeting new people, cultures, history of a land or a country and all that comes in my mind to a picture and then I process this special moment as a scent. We have 25 different perfumes and 6 of them are dedicated to Berlin as a special Berlin Collection, 6 different stories from from the unique city I live in.
Do you remember the first fragrance you created?
I love all of our perfumes, but the perfume, which I particular like is the BERLIN SOUL. That was the first fragrance I dedicated my vision and my experiences to. In other words, it is love declaration to the city. It also reflects my own character, so basically it is me in a perfume (smiles) It is very a vibrant, impulsive, strong and a mysterious fragrance.
Why do almost all of the niche market perfumes create unisex fragrances?
Back in the day this was clearly separated, Man – Woman. In this market it is not. You have to be open -minded about it: anyone can live as they want, dress as they want, love whom they want and that’s why you should have unisex fragrances. The niche market can’t decide for its customers, what they like. We create perfumes with special notes: some of them are more floral, some of them woody or smokey. Our clients or guests can choose a scent themselves and it depends what kind of scent preferences they have.
Where do you seek and find inspiration for your perfumes? And once inspired, what is your creative process?
On one hand, as I said before, it is travelling and people, on the other hand it is my family, who play a big part in the inspiration process. Gifting a person with a perfume, they get a little part of ourselves – especially, our heart. That is actually what our clients value a lot, that there is not a big company behind BIRKHOLZ Perfume Manufacture, it is family owned. So it is myself, my father – the CEO, my little brother – who is responsible for the technology and filling machines, my mother is also in the business and also, of course, the employees, who are like our family.
What would you say are the core values or philosophy of BIRKHOLZ Perfume Manufacture?
The core value is definitely individuality. We at BIRKHOLZ Perfume Manufacture always aim at individualizing and personalizing a perfume. It is about the feeling of coming in, arriving, feeling at ease and linger and then being guided through the process of the perfume concept. It is also about tranquillity.
Fascination is another core value, as well as customer experience – we want to give people an experience, we want to make perfume an experience again. Unfortunatly for the last years a fragrance became just something- «nice to have» . Thus the topic «the sence of smelling» has suffered, but now it slowly coming back.
What are the greatest challenges you and the company have faced in business? And how did you, or do you, deal with them?
The greatest challenges so far, I would say, is that of introducing a new perfume brand in such a saturated market. Although, we are in the niche perfume market, that was still a difficult task.
Of course the development of our scents and marketing material is also one of the biggest challenges. It takes a lot of time. The whole concept took over three years to develop. Everything you see from the chairs, the design, the machines, the test bar – that all, takes a lot of time to develop, until it is perfect. So perfection, naturally, is another value as everything needs to be paid attention to.
And one more challenge that I can think of is that Germany is generally not known for high quality perfumes. It is mostly, if you think about it, France, Italy, Switzerland… So we try to bring it out to people that there are some great scents coming from Germany as well! That is also why we have the Berlin collection – we want to present our capital and our love for the city.
There are chemists, and there are alchemists…which are you?
I would say I am more of a visionist. A chemist is someone, who on daily basis is figuring out chemicals and molecules and formulas. An alchemist is coming back from the Greek mythology and is someone, who turned metal into gold – and I don’t so I would say I more like a visionist. ( Smiles )
What is the difference between an aroma and a perfume?
The difference is that a perfume has multiple levels, that gives your receptions a pleasant smell, like a bouquet of flowers. Whereas an aroma mostly coming from something that is made or created. Let’s take coffee for example, the aroma that it sets free. That is more of an aroma than of a perfume. So perfume has different facets whereas an aroma is monotone.
How would you like to be thought of?
Toughest question so far.(smiles) I am actually a shy guy. I would like people to know me as THE perfume sommelier, who really takes the time for his customers. Well actually WE take time, as I am not the only one in the show. And as I already mentioned we’re trying to find the right perfume for everyone, reflecting their character and personality. . Perhaps, I would also like to be known for high quality perfumes that are coming from Berlin, Germany..
Many thanks for the interview!