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How Jonaki became Bangladesh’s first perfume brand

  • Published at 04:48 pm March 14th, 2021

The founder says it is a local brand with international standards 

During a quiet evening, a young girl was strolling by her hillside house in Chattogram, surrounded by a garden full of beautiful Bangladeshi white floral trees; Jasmine, Gandharaj, Dolon Chapa among them. As she stood there, she saw the dreamlike scene of ‘jonaki’ (fireflies) lightening up the garden. The ethereal sight achieved an extra dimension with the intoxicating fragrance of the white flowers engulfing the evening air. 40 years later, that young girl, Nasreen Zamir, founded Jonaki Fragrance, taking inspiration from those childhood memories.

Nasreen is an established interior designer, artist and entrepreneur, known for her work in the design industry as a creative pioneer. She believed that her knowledge and instinct for designing can be implemented in creating her own perfume brand. Of course, her lifelong passion for perfume played no small part in her desire to start one. 

Nasreen began to work on her idea of starting her own fragrance brand in 2017 and acted as the creative director. She found inspiration in the works of French fashion designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Serge Lutens and the American fashion designer Tom Ford. Nasreen says, “I think the works of Tom Ford and Serge Lutens come from a place of incredible passion.” 

Historically, Bangladesh’s involvement in Attar production goes back to 400 years and even at present a significant quantity of Oud oil is exported from Sylhet. Despite that being the case, Bangladesh does not have any established fashion house or perfume brand that caters to the needs of local fragrance enthusiasts. 

Essentially, there are no local fashion brands or perfume houses that sell their own perfume adhering to the international standards. Nasreen wanted to fill this void. Other than her fond memories involving fireflies, the reason for naming her brand Jonaki was that Jonaki, to Nasreen, represents independence, as well as a sense of mystery. Perhaps the underlying philosophy is that this is also what a good perfume  should make someone feel. 

But how does someone go about making their own perfume and selling them under their own brand name, something that has never been done before in the country? The process of selection of raw materials, composition of the perfumes and manufacture was quite challenging, Nasreen says. Primary consultation and assistance was obtained through workshops and freelance consultancy from top players of the industry. In this process Nasreen also worked with International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) in one of its laboratories located in Singapore. 

After the necessary training, consultancy and research and development, 12 fragrances were finalized, out of which six passed various lab tests in Malaysia. 

Among the harder obstacles Jonaki faced during the production of perfumes were sourcing best quality bottles and producing perfumes with long shelf life. But Nasreen worked hard to solve them and was able to launch Jonaki Fragrance through Square Toiletries Limited in February, 2020. Nasreen inaugurated the brand by launching five perfumes in Bangladesh.

Jonaki’s line of fragrances for women consist of Freesia Nights, Neroli Blossom and Oriental Jasmine. Two Jonaki fragrances for men are named Amaretto and Santal Tabac. 

Jonaki Fragrance considers Bangladeshi youth to be its prime customers and aims to cater to their needs.

Although the journey has just begun, Jonaki Fragrance dreams big. It has plans to introduce a beauty line and go international with the brand. All the fragrances in Jonaki’s lineup are in Eau de toilette (EDT) concentration, a cheaper and more popular type of perfume than the Eau de Parfum (EDP) type, which is of higher concentration and costs more. Jonaki is planning to introduce EDP concentration as well to its line. 

Nasreen also plans to release two new fragrances this year. 

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