Zarko Perfume is said to ‘fuse classic French perfumery with Nordic molecular science’, and with a tagline that tempting, we just had to smell the creations. We caught up with Zarko Ahlmann Pavlov to talk about his journey creating his visionary fragrance brand.
I’ve always been interested in fragrances
My first memory is being in my mother’s kitchen when she was baking pastry and the warm sweet scent of vanilla (she loved vanilla) – She always sang when she baked her favourite things which made me feel safe and happy, giving me a tremendous sense of security. That's the strongest olfactory memory I have from my childhood, and is, of course, why in almost all of my compositions I use vanilla, sometimes only traces other times in dominant amounts.
My journey into perfumery
I actually had 3 stores that dealt in high end fashion, but after so many years in the fashion business, nearly 18 years, I felt something was missing, being extremely creative, I felt the need to evolve to feel alive and make a difference. I decided I wanted to create a unique fragrance for my shops but not through a license, like nearly 95% of all fragrances that are created for the global industry, I needed to do it myself.
I tried to get some education in perfume, but it was impossible to get any serious education. After several attempts, I was lucky that a perfumer gave me advice and pointed me in the right direction. I read every book on perfume that I could get my hands on and then one day the dime dropped. I realised I could create an accord in matters of days and ultimately that ended up being the development of my first fragrance. An English company helped me gather the rare essentials oils and Molecules to help me start my development – this relationship is till, to this day, very important to me.
Finding my style
A perfume doesn`t need to be created in the classic way with top notes – mid notes – and base notes. A perfume is much like a painting. You could use yellow and only yellow to truly create a masterpiece. A perfect example is the sunflower painted by Van Gogh in 1888 and 1889 only using three shades of yellow and nothing else, he demonstrated that it was possible to create an image with numerous variations of a single colour without any loss of eloquence. I felt that I had to see the painting, in real life in order to get my ideas straight. When I saw the painting, I think I stood there for several hours and was absolutely dazzled, it was as if it was on fire, leaving me with so many creative ideas and notions all based around the core of the compositions.
My first scent
The first fragrance introduced my love affair with molecules; it was Molecule 234.38 which took many years to create. It is simply named after the size and weight of the molecule. It is created using only base notes and mid notes. The notes are released dependent on their size and the warmth of your skin – they also individually react with the physical scent of your body, and the surroundings - I am a true believer that sensual attraction can be created with a fragrance - and now scientists back it up – that pheromones do exist, and humans can be attracted sexually by specific molecules.
Setting up my brand
I originally developed the fragrances for my own shops – people went crazy for them – and soon we couldn't keep up with the demand. I was working all hours that I could –starting at 7.30am and continuing until after midnight, with my wife, in our attic. I even ended up installing a small production centre in the attic, the time flew by, but we did not mind as we loved it so much, so even though we finished late at night and were so tired, we were still happy.
We did this for one and a half years, and then I took the decision to close my shops and work full time on ZARKOPERFUME. Now 5 years later I know it was the perfect decision - ZARKOPERFUME is in 31 countries and in thousands of retailers and growing very rapidly. For this I also have to thank my lovely wife as she is such a big part of the creation and development of ZARKOPERFUME,
Lene has been by my side for 29 years – I met her, when she was 17 years old and I still have the same affection and love for her as from the first day we met. She is truly amazing, talk about
multi-tasking- she can do it. I am blessed with an amazing woman, we are always joking here in the showroom and the factory that I am the frosting on a cake and she the BOSS.
The inspiration is always Nordic. I am surrounded with very different sea shores, some with sand and some with rocks, endless flowers in fields, mossy woods and white woods. I feed on this and always find peace in these places, so I can actually play with new fragrance compositions in my mind and gathers accord based on the feelings I have when I’m in my favourite places.
My favourite creation
To choose a favourite among my fragrances is impossible – because all have a part of my soul in it.
all of them on different occasions. Every time I choose one it takes me back to the time and place of where it was created. Being able to return to that place, in a split second, and the feelings I had when creating and developing that fragrance is what keeps my soul wired – creative and young.
Next for the brand
Really delicious and luxurious Molecular hand creams are under development in all the fragrances. They are, of course, all cruelty free – vegan free and not tested on animals – like my fragrances and no harsh additives are added – and then to top it off a new cloud collection will be launched in September.