7scents perfumery is one of the latest gems of downtown Budapest. We were captivated by the atmosphere, the selection of perfumes only available here in Hungary, and last, but not least by the honest enthusiasm of the owner, Ákos Pozsgai, and so we asked him about the background of his business and how we can find our true scent – our essence, if you like.
Visiting 7scents, this small perfumery nestled in the streets next to Károlyi-kert equals a journey of self-discovery. Here you shouldn’t look for the brands you see in drugstores or other perfumeries: instead of silent observation, you should talk to the owner, Ákos Pozsgai, who is more than happy to help you find your way in this fascinating world of perfume bottles and scents, one more surprising than the other.
What did you do before opening 7scents, what path has lead you to opening your own store?
Ákos: The store is the result of me trying to find my path. Previously I worked on the field of online marketing and e-commerce for multinational companies, even during the 13 years I spent in Berlin. It was great but I soon felt a desire to work at a place where I truly love the product. My career in the multi world did not offer a chance for that. This desire was continuously working and growing in me, and when finally one of my jobs ended, I started looking for my path more actively.
I am a guy with many ideas: I have a dozen new ideas every day, which I think about continuously. Usually I get bored of them by the end of the day, or I play them out in my head and let them go. However,
the idea of collecting the beauty products that I found during my travels and that became my treasures somehow stuck with me.
After my last job, I felt that I wanted to take some time to rest in a place that is fully unknown, where everything is new and exciting – this is how I ended up in Ethiopia for a month. This became the point when I finally made the decision: this will be the thing I want to do, I will do my own business, the 7scents online store. And so initially it was just an online store, as, after all, this is what I’m good at, and then a year and a half later we opened the brick-and-mortar store. The customers – quite understandably – showed an immense need for getting in physical proximity to the scents.
What are the aspects based on which you choose the brands available in the store?
An important aspect is to choose brands that are not available in Hungary yet. We discovered and tried many brands in the course of travels – such as the products of Ortigia, or Marius Fabre‘s Marseille soap, which I have used and loved for years –, and we thought it would be gap filling to bring them to Hungary.
The same goes for niche perfumes, which became a strong pillar in 7scents’ selection. These are once again brands that were not present on the Hungarian market. We rely on the profession in their selection: we prefer perfumes and perfume houses recognized with professional awards. We request samples from them and see if they match 7scents completely. It’s important that they don’t feel strange to us so that we can represent them authentically.
Based on your experience so far, do you think there is a demand in Hungary for the niche perfumes available in your store?
All in all we represent a more modern and avantgarde direction with our perfumes compared to the other Hungarian perfume houses. However, I will only be able to answer your question next year. Based on the first experiences, I see that there is an increasing demand for what’s special and fascinating. We get a lot of love, many people enter the store with very positive energy.
We would also like to expand our online store in the region: our Polish, Slovak and Czech websites are on the way – with these, we would like to offer local experiences and so people will be able to purchase the goods in the language of the given country.
You opened your store without a professional background, and since then, you became an expert of scents. How?
On the one hand, there is personal interest, and on the other hand, we are learning a lot, very quickly. We receive a lot of help from the perfumers of brands who send us basic scents to help us know the fragrance of each ingredient and who are also available for telephone consultations. We mainly train our noses, which has a surprisingly improvable memory, this is a fantastic challenge. It requires almost the same knowledge as that of sommeliers. Here we need both general knowledge and the knowledge of the perfume’s unique character, and we also need to identify what can be compared with what.
Did it ever happen that someone entered the store with a firm idea about the scent they wanted to purchase and ultimately left with its exact opposite? Can you tell us how the process of perfume consultation and choosing takes place?
In the course of consultation, no matter how concrete or general the customer’s ideas are, we ask for a few keywords first. By this I mean something airy, oriental, woody, spicy, sweet, sour and so on. These keywords could also pertain to the function: whether they will wear it for work or for leisure time. Then we make a small pre-selection: we show 5-6 scents that we think match this idea. Then we leave the customer to experience in their own pace, even alone, what they like and what they don’t. Then we show further references in the former direction until hopefully they find what they were looking for.
And yes there were cases when someone came in and said that they were looking for a strong, woody scent and ended up leaving with a light and airy one – this a surprise for all of us. This is also why it is good to visit us, because you can find surprises like these. I think it is especially interesting in this trade that many people try to choose a perfume based on ideas, on an intellectual level. Meanwhile
we also have a very visceral answer to scents, and these two are often not compatible with each other. It’s very interesting to see how much people dare to listen to their instinctive responses.
I’ll share one more example we have heard a bunch of times before: someone says about a perfume that this will be my perfume in 5 years, in 5 years I will be there that this will be my scent – not in a financial sense, rather in terms of personality. Usually those who say this are right there – as they already respond to the scent from their “guts”, but being immersed in their thoughts they think they are not. This is a provocative thought, but I think many people are much further along than what they allow themselves.
Photos: Máté Csengery