Published March 12, 2018
An Interview with Brennan Michael
Meet the new frontrunner in the Toronto perfume industry
Brennan Michael is among the growing class of millennials creating their own career paths and defying traditional notions of success. What began as a casual interest in perfumery has now become Brennan's bread and butter, and a growing number of shops in the city now carry his signature scents. Read on to learn more about the artist's creative inspiration, approach to education, and next steps moving forward.
Hey Brennan. Thanks for having me at your studio!
Thanks for stopping by!
First things first: when did you discover you had a gift for creating perfumes? Were you particularly drawn to different scents growing up?
When I was young, I was drawn to the memorable effect that particular odours such as old books and musty rooms had on me. The preservation of scent by memory was a way for me to explore my imagination and trust my environments. My introduction of florals was by the fragrance of lilac bushes growing along the perimeter of my first house. These were my primary experiences with scent. Four years ago I started by mixing oils to realistically capture true scents found in nature, from freshness to animalic notes.
Did you run into any challenges first establishing your name in the perfume industry? Do you have any mentors who helped counsel you through them?
Yes, lots of challenges. Perfumery is as much a business as an art form. The purchasing of raw materials to complete a work of art can be very time consuming and expensive. The ability to sustain and uphold product quality with the availability of these materials can be equally as hard. I have learned much through other perfumers and have gained invaluable experience by working closely with my clients and suppliers to ensure the best oils are being used and will be available.
From where do you source your oils and other ingredients necessary for the production of candles and perfumes? Are you able to partner with local manufacturers for your ingredients?
I source my oils worldwide using a diverse selection of importers. Some of the oils that I use are produced in North America. The soy wax I use for candles is made in the U.S. Some of the unique oils that I use are found through a lengthy sourcing process. It can take up to a year sometimes for my importer to get their hands on the oil and thoroughly test quality. On top of this I like to know that people will enjoy my scents for their strength, so oils are tested further in my lab.
You didn't take the traditional route with your education, but now have a very successful creative business. Are you able to speak to the pressures of conforming to a standardized North American education? Do you have any advice for young creatives who may have been in the same boat as you ten years ago?
The conformity was real. Although I had so much momentum and guidance by helping run a small business in Toronto for years. I decided to take what I knew and apply it in as many ways that I could. Technology has also been able to help me immensely. I still plan to continue my studies involving perfumery certificates. For me, there has to be a true reason why you do something. An intention, like in perfumery. To place a note in a sequence of notes to create harmony.
Memory One was a huge hit, and sold out quickly. Do you have plans to bring back this first perfume and/or come out with more?
Thank you. I do plan on expanding on M1. And since it was my first, there should be edits and re-releases. What was really enjoyable for me was to hear great feedback for a natural perfume using natural essential oils from all over the world. Vetiver from Haiti, Virginian Cedarwood, Hungarian Pine, Italian Bergamot. The creative journey for a perfume is like any work of art.. it’s only really finished when you feel like it is.
You've partnered with Souvenir Studios, Tokyo Smoke, and other notable brands on scents over the past few years. Do you see yourself working on more partnerships in the future or leaning more toward developing your own name in the perfume industry?
A bit of both. I have been working quietly as a perfumer for many other brands for the past year by helping them develop their own fragrances. This has been an incredible learning experience not only as a perfumer but as a business to expand on what I know and do. My new perfumes will have more of a focus on freshness and will be unisex.
Last question: what's on the table for Brennan Michael in 2018?
More collaborations, more scents, and more products. This year I hope to get as many of my perfumes into the hands of people locally in Toronto and across the country as I can.