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How this homegrown fragrance brand is championing mental wellness

Jason Lee, the founder of SIX, talks about the artisanal Singapore fragrance brand’s social mission.

Have you ever felt so happy, well-loved and uplifted and wished that you could bottle up those feelings and save them for the darkest hours? While we don’t have that technology yet, the fragrance industry comes close.

Founded in 2016, SIX has grown into one of the leading fragrance brands in the region that’s known for its exquisite perfumes and ambient scents. At the heart of the brand is a mission to champion mental wellness through the sense of smell articulated with Hikaru, its latest range.

In a collaboration with the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), SIX aims to also help raise awareness of mental health issues and the importance of taking care of one’s mental wellness. We asked founder Jason Lee to share more.

 

  • SIX fragrance

    Products from fragrance brand SIX.

 

How did the Hikaru collaboration with SAMH come about?

SIX has always championed mental wellness with scents. With the pandemic causing a lot of people unimaginable amounts of stress, it had me thinking that this was affecting a broad spectrum and not only those with severe depression but caregivers as well who may experience constant anxiety. Hikaru helps to alleviate some of this stress.

We wanted to make sure it worked so when we designed the scent, took the work in progress to SAMH and did a workshop to get feedback on the kind of emotion its members felt on smelling the ingredients and what we could do to improve it. Since December, we have been putting aside $10 from the sale of each Hikaru item towards a fund for SAMH individuals with mental health issues. We aim to donate $10,000.

 

(Related: Mindfulness and meditation sessions in Singapore to improve physical health and quality of life)

 

How would you describe Hikaru?

Hikaru means “to shine” in Japanese. I wanted it to be uplifting and soothing – and to smell like hope and a silver lining. The main note is yuzu, which holds a special memory for me. The first time I got whiff of it was when I was quite little.

My grandmother bought me a yuzu ice cream in Hong Kong and the scent was so fresh, I had this incredible sense of joy that was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. In Hikaru, the freshness of yuzu gives way to light floral notes of dandelion and jasmine and then a fresh green like morning dew segues into notes of neroli, musk and amber that wrap you in a warm hug.

 

How does a scent cultivate a certain feeling?

We use the Magnetiscent fragrance intelligence technology from Japanese fragrance house Takasago to source the right scents that can influence whatever you’re feeling by triggering activities in certain parts of the brain.

This has been scientifically proven by studies using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) at the Technical University of Dresden Medical School. By finding out the scents that trigger the part of the brain that’s active when you are feeling happy and positive, we can influence the way you feel.

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The pandemic has led to a retail apocalypse for many but the sales figures of SIX’s home fragrance products went up. Why do you think that is so?

It surprised me, too. Before the pandemic, the ratio of our sales was 50 per cent perfume and 50 per cent home fragrance. Since the pandemic, it’s been 90 to 95 per cent home fragrance! I think it’s because most have little reason to wear perfume these days.

Instead, because they stay home all the time, they want to be able to uplift their mood and set their mind right for the activities ahead. Or they simply want to feel calmer in a space they are forced to share with many for a prolonged time. The home scent can be an intangible positive force.

 

You have crafted ambient scents for shops and hotels. Do you also offer this service to private homeowners?

Yes. We’ve had clients from the royal families of Brunei and Malaysia requesting for personalised signature home fragrances after experiencing our ambient scents outside.

 

What goes into the crafting of an ambient scent?

I start by asking a client to describe their space with three questions.

  • One: describe the personality of your space in three words.
  • Two: describe it in three colours.
  • Three: if your space was an animal, what would it be and why?

These questions are designed to prompt intimate answers that will help us nominate the right scent. Once we’ve established it, we polish and perfect it.

This article was originally published in Home & Decor.

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