An 84-year-old legacy is passed on from father to son opening a new door to the future, and ensuring that this family business will continue to prosper and grow.
One of Singapore’s most prominent home-grown perfume businesses is Jamal Kazura Aromatics, named after its second-generation owner, Jamal Kazura.
Before he took over the then Kazura Company in the mid 70’s, it was a general merchant store. As well as perfumes, it also stocked religious books and various item s to perform the annual Haj pilgrimage.
After taking over the reigns from his late father however, Jamal decided to focus primarily on perfume oils and essential oils.
It’s now been 30 years since Jamal took over the family business, and after three decades of being the face of the company, the time has now come to start thinking about his successor, who’ll also have to deal with a changing client base.
“The perfume oil industry has certainly changed over the last couple of decades. These days there is a stronger preference for non-alcohol perfumes than there was back in ’80’s. when we dealt with more traditional alcohol-based aromatics. And now of course we have customers from all walks of life.”
The aromatics industry literally flows in the veins of his sons. From an early age their lives revolved around the heady concoctions that were being created on a daily basis in their father’s shop, out of blends of natural oils sourced from across the world. it was inevitable that they would become part of the business.
Youngest son 34-year-old Samir has been part of the company for the past six years. He always knew that the day would come when he would be expected to take over the reigns from his father. After completing a Masters Degree in Finance in France, Samir went on to work in France and Australia for five years, before returning home to Singapore to learn more about the family business.
“In my heart I always knew, even as a teenager, that I would come back to the family business. Because I grew up in Perfume. It formed part of my childhood and my upbringing and I think I also inherited my Dad’s nose – it’s sensitive to all kinds of smells; good and bad!”
Even when he was overseas, Samir was fascinated by how important fragrance was and the impact it has in different cultures. So when he came back to Singapore, he wanted to streamline the business and implement the structure that his background in finance taught him. However, he learned quite swiftly that such 360-degree changes can’t be made in a day.
To capture the interest and nose of the younger consumer, Samir is working on blending scents that are more modern and reminiscent of more familiar scents from top fashion and fragrance houses. He was also quick to notice that over 50% of their walk-in customers were from Japan, and so after proposing the idea to his father, Samir and his elder brother Johari went on to expand their business into Japan. Even though he freely admits that he is still nowhere near his father in his father in his ability to blend scents, he is most definitely getting there, striving day-by-day to become a gifted perfumer.
“In my personal opinion, any aspiring perfumer should have a passion for creation. It could be in the form of creating artwork or whipping up something in the kitchen. Whichever form, there has to be that drive to create. It goes without saying that a sharp sense of smell is pertinent in this trade. To be able to identify different families of ingredients, and also different varieties within each family (i.e different types of rose) is a skill that will set a good perfumer apart from an average one.
Last but not least, a perfumer should have a curious nose, and be willing to explore scents of all types ranging from the good to the bad to the ugly!”
With his determination and a personal sense of responsibility for the business Samir now looks forward to celebrating the company’s next big milestone, its centenary in 2033.