As we begin to prepare for the return of World Perfumery Congress (WPC), we connected with Berje senior perfumer and American Society of Perfumers (ASP) board member Lionel Nesbitt connects to share his fragrance journey, project wins, advice for newcomers and what he's looking forward to most about WPC 2024 in Geneva.
What led you to the fragrance industry?
Lionel Nesbitt [LN]: I started out in the industry at Haarmann and Reimer and kind of stumbled into the job. I have a degree in Biology and had aspirations of attending medical school, but after four years I was kind of fed up with school. I wanted to stay in the sciences so I applied to all the lab jobs that I could until I landed a job to work in the perfumery lab compounding for several perfumers. I went on to work in analytical, production, as well as a few other areas. I learned how I could create unique odor profiles that I came across in the world and duplicate them so others could experience what I had.
What applications do you primarily formulate for?
LN: I formulate for just about any and everything. I have a technical background that has allowed me to understand applications and bases so that I can formulate using the materials that would showcase the most. A large portion of my work is in air care as well as personal care.
Do you have a favorite?
LN: I really like working on anything creative that involves spice notes. Notes of clove, coriander, and cinnamon are great to work with, but I like notes such as black pepper, elemi and pink pepper. If anyone knows me well, they also know that I like to work with juniper as well.
Are there any recent projects/wins you’re particularly proud of?
LN:I have worked on a few niche fine fragrances that I have enjoyed. In the past, I have worked with Jean-Claude Delville on a fragrance that was recreated from the Mary Celestia. This was a Civil War blockade runner that carried cargo and supplies in the South. There were several bottles of intact perfume that were found so we were able to recreate what was once formulated centuries ago.
Advice for people coming into the perfume field or the best piece of advice you've received?
LN: The best form of advice I can give anyone in this field or other fields is to learn as much as you can from everyone. You have no idea what knowledge that you have learned now will do for you in the future. You learn this knowledge by communicating and bonding with people over time making lifelong friendships. There is a passion for perfumery, it's not about what you can benefit from working in the industry but what you can teach and provide to the next generation. Along this journey, you will learn more than can ever be taught to you in a few classes.
What are you looking forward to most about the return of the World Perfumery Congress?
LN: As always, I look forward to new products at the WPC (essential oils as well as synthetic ingredients). It's a time to meet with old friends and discuss new techniques and ideas that I did not know about. It's also the best time to attend workshops provided by seasoned perfumers