A Sense of Craft: Scent by Six’s Jason Lee Harnesses the Evocative Power of Smell to Lift Spirits
The power of smell is often overlooked, when in fact scents can trigger memories and emotions. Jason Lee, the founder of fragrance brand Scent by Six, has seen this first-hand at one of the community scent workshops he conducted during the brand’s early days.
“We wanted to create a unique scent for this elderly lady with severe dementia, based on her life experiences. Her family said she used to go to the temple with her late husband to offer incense. She also loved making pandan cakes, and her favourite drink was kopi o kosong (black coffee without sugar). I put all those smells together very carefully, and let her take a whiff,” he shares.
“What happened next was priceless: her eyes widened, and she blurted out her deceased husband’s name, and started crying. So did her family as after such a long time, the memories came flooding back. It was then that I found my purpose: to heal emotions, to preserve memories, to bring people together.”
Lee, who developed a nose for fragrances while working at Swiss perfume house Givaudan, considers this connection between scent and emotional memory “our sixth sense” which inspired the brand name. More than just being in the business of scents—with fine fragrances, DIY scent kits, and a home scenting range—Scent by Six has “a clear purpose: to soothe, to heal and to delight mental wellness”. It is one of the new batch of local brands to join the Made With Passion initiative led by the Singapore Brand Office and the Singapore Tourism Board, with the support of Enterprise Singapore.
Serving the community has been at the heart of the business since its start in 2016, even more so with the current pandemic. “Covid-19 has discouraged us from touching others physically, but we still want to impact others by touching them emotionally,” Lee explains. In November last year, Scent by Six launched a yuzu-themed scent collection, Hikaru, in collaboration with the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Tapping on the expertise of Japanese fragrance house Takasago, the Hikaru scent is infused with “fragrance intelligence”—a palette of ingredients scientifically tested and proven to influence certain moods and feelings—to trigger feelings of joy and happiness in the wearer. The collection of perfume, pillow mist and pure essential oil was created together with youths suffering from severe depression.
In case you missed it: Change Agents: Social Artist Duo Hunny and Lummy Discuss Mental Health Issues in Their Art
“Hikaru means ‘to shine’ in Japanese, and we want to be the light and let them shine. We want to touch lives mentally, emotionally and empathetically.” A sum of $10 from the sale of each product, with up to $10,000 pledged, will go towards SAMH’s efforts in helping individuals with mental health issues. The collaboration with Takasago and SAMH continues with the latest release, Sleep, Returns, a woody, aromatic and citrus scent to encourage a good night’s sleep.
The brand is also dedicated to providing a holistic multisensorial experience for customers at its
313@Somerset boutique. A whiff of its signature ambient scent welcomes you, before a feeling of calm envelops you in the sanctuary-like space to get you into a moment of reflection. The same experience can be found at its new open-concept scent bar at Jem mall.
“We want to touch lives mentally, emotionally and empathetically.”— Jason Lee
Regarding the importance of ambient scents—which is part of Scent by Six’s commercial offering—on the overall customer experience, Lee expounds, “Businesses are realising the awful ‘gap’, ‘silence’ or ‘emptiness’ when there isn’t a scent. It’s that ‘loud silence’ when you step into a restaurant without any background music. A well-crafted scent is imperative, where each ingredient is mindfully mapped with a brand’s ethos and message, forming a lasting impression in customers’ minds.”
While it used to be just hotels and shopping malls, Lee now sees businesses such as gyms, fitness studios and even bubble tea shops commissioning bespoke labels and ambient scents. There was even a request to create the scent of new banknotes.
Notably, the brand created the world’s first TCM scent, Hush, for the 140th anniversary of Eu Yan Sang in 2019, while a recent collaboration with Singapore Airlines for its signature scent, Batik Flora, will be progressively introduced at key locations, including the redeveloped SilverKris Lounge at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Batik Flora will also be sold exclusively on KrisShop.com from this month.
On how he wants people to feel when they use Scent by Six’s products, Lee’s simple answer is peace. “I wish for people to feel at peace with themselves. Whichever scent you choose, I hope you will find peace, and set your mind right.”
- PhotographyDarren Gabriel Leow
- Art DirectionJana Tan
- GroomingBenedict Choo
- ImagesScent by SIx