The founders of AER Scents Ted Young-Ing and Stefan Kehl

The New Natural

Meet AER Scents, the natural perfume brand that brings sustainability into the world of perfuming and makes scents that are weird, but also beautiful.

As sustainability is the hot topic in food, fashion and beauty right now, it’s no surprise that the eco-friendlier view has now also reached perfumes and the sourcing for scents. Perfumes are mostly associated with beautiful flowers and ripe citrus fruit. That the process of making a synthetic scent is not as innocent as it may seem is something that the Berlin-based brand AER Scents wants to make you aware off and to offer you a unique alternative.

By only using botanical and vegan ingredients and sourcing from small native suppliers, the founders of AER scents want to be in control of how their perfume gets produced and share the secrets of experimenting with scents to create the perfect natural perfume for their customers.

Achtung Digital spoke to the founders Stefan Kehl and Ted Young-Ing about the search for natural ingredients and how to train your smell.

The counter in the atelier of AER Scents where the brand experiments with different scents and creates their perfumes.

AD: Why did you decide to only use natural ingredients for your perfumes?

Stefan Kehl: It was a very logical conclusion for us, because of the perfumes you see on the market. I was looking for a new perfume for myself for years and years and I didn’t know where to go, because to me everything smelt the same. Even if it’s in the niche section or even if it’s very expensive. It’s not very natural. It’s all synthetic. I didn’t like that very much.

Ted Young-Ing: Synthetics are not a bad thing, but we really wanted something that is more intelligently put together. We tried to make an effort with all our products to mixture a different trait or to understand exactly where it comes from and where it’s harvested. To make sure it’s picked in line with nature. To make sure that it’s not going to destroy the rain forest. That’s why we mostly use natural ingredients, because synthetics often come from petroleum or are produced with a lot of extra waste. For us it feels better to not be part of that process.

Is there a big difference in the production, if you’re not using natural ingredients rather than using synthetic ones?

Ted Young-Ing: The sourcing is much more difficult. If you want synthetics you just call one laboratory and they can give you 8.000 ingredients. For natural ingredients, you have to do a lot more research. Most of our ingredients come from a different supplier. We have to get the right supplier and every year the products are different. It’s like grapes for wine. Same year the same grape, but every time it’s little bit different. So, there is a bit of a variability.

Stefan Kehl: You also need to understand that the ingredients are harvested by hand. That limits our production. We can only use as much as the suppliers make.

How would you describe your scents in one sentence?

Ted Young-Ing: Our tagline is: “We make minimalist perfumes, that are as complex as you are”. What I love about our scents is that they are really unique and are kind of weird. I feel like that’s cool. They’re not for everyone.

AER Scents currently offer their costumers six different perfumes to choose from.

Do you wear the perfumes from your own brand?

Ted Young-Ing: Yes, but it’s difficult to wear perfume in the atelier, because we are working with scents all day. So, if you wear perfume, you will have the scent in your nose.

Stefan Kehl: If someone comes in and is wearing a chemical perfume I can’t focus on my work. It will interact very negatively with my sense of smell while I’m the middle of the creation process.

Can you actually learn which scents smell good together?

Ted Young-Ing: What is interesting is that people don’t really train their sense of smell. In our everyday world smell used to be so important to us, but now it’s not so much. In the past two years of doing AER my sense of smell has become ten times bigger then it was before. The more you train your smell, the more you smell different things. In the same way, the more you look at things, if you’re an artist you draw every day, it makes your eyes better and it makes your hands better.

So, perfume making is all about experimenting?

Ted Young-Ing: It’s a creative process. It’s about trying, failing, trying ways around it and working it out.

Do your perfumes last differently than perfumes made with chemicals?

Stefan Kehl: Yes. Our scents don’t stay on your skin for four days. By nature, our perfumes can be very loud, but they are also very personal scents. Our brand has a very intimate approach.

Ted Young-Ing: Our perfumes are your personal space. I use this expression called “perfume bomb”, when you walk into a room and everyone has to smell your scent and people still have to smell it after you leave. Our perfumes become a part of you. It becomes a part of your aura.

As sustainability is a big priority for AER Scents in creating and sourcing for scents it takes the two founders a lot of research to find the right suppliers.

How much perfume should one apply? 

Stefan Kehl: That is totally up to you. You cannot apply too much.

Ted Young-Ing: For me a bottle of perfume lasts for years, but we have a friend that bought one of our perfumes two months ago and it’s gone.

As you both have decided to start your label in Berlin. How would you describe the scent of Berlin?

Stefan Kehl: Berlin is a city, where wearing perfume is seen as something that is not good. I often have experienced that when you are on the street people like to come across a bit more leisure or dirty. Not that they smell, but it’s cool and chic to look like you just came out of a club. Also, the underground smell of the electricity and dust plus the trees in the summertime.

Ted Young-Ing: Berlin to me is linden trees in the summer, cycling down the street and having this amazing perfume that is so thick and so beautiful. Also concrete and sweat from the clubs and lots of coffee of course.