Cologne, the diluted version of a perfume is refreshingly light and typically contains citrus-based blends. Usually in the form of liquid, colognes sadly are not exactly travel friendly, as they are quick to evaporate and easily squandered. This then leads to the re-emergence of a niche market in this modern time to offer hand crafted solid colognes. The Apothecary — named after the entrepreneurial pharmacists of the past by its founder Adrian Cheong, this homegrown label is set to go beyond local markets from the start.
A very experimental person in nature, Adrian likes to cook and make things from scratch like homemade cheese and chee cheong fun; that was probably what gave him the confidence to venture into the making of solid colognes. After identifying this open market segment and some thorough research on products in the US, he decided to start his own label in making solid scents.
The Apothecary aspires to reintroduce a long-lost grooming tradition with a sleek, modern touch. A brand that started with only 20 boxes of solid cologne in November 2015, it is currently selling about 200-250 boxes every month on average, with Hong Kong as its biggest market followed by Malaysia and Taiwan.
Solid colognes are actually not a new item as it was firstly discovered by the Egyptians who wore them as solid, crude scents made from a mixture of essential oils, beeswax and shea butter. Also believed to have healing properties by ancient Egyptians, solid perfumes especially roses were also fancied by ancient Roman women while the Europeans intrigued by dry scents, carried them around in lockets.
Just like the lockets carried by people in the past, The Apothecary packaging is meant to be just as mobile and easy to be carried around. In fact, Adrian placed loads of effort in making the packaging of the products, from its boxing design to sourcing a suitable, lightweight tin can to hold the solid colognes.
A man proud of his own products, The Apothecary solid colognes are well packaged and comes in a convenient little tin that slides open with a flick of the thumb, making it perfect for travel or reapplying on the go. Small in size, these solid colognes can also be kept in your pocket or bag.
The Apothecary solid colognes are concrete formulas of locally sourced oils, herbs and spices that are then poured into its customized tins and left to be harden. Made with natural ingredients, oils, beeswax, shea butter and synthetic fragrances, these tiny balms of perfume can also help moisturize the skin. Solid colognes may become a good alternative to traditional spray colognes, as they are natural, portable, moisturizing and inexpensive.
For Him: Cornerstone (warm main notes with hints of Paprika and Vanilla), Colossus (citrusy scent with Musk and Amber notes), Hot Shot (stimulating scent with Red Apple, Jasmine & Rose, Tonka beans Geranium and Sandalwood), Maverick (fresh yet exotic scent with velvety and woody tones)
For Her: Cleopatra (fresh floral scent of Mandarin, Cactus Flower, Freesia, Gardenia Lily Of The Valley and Golden Sandalwood)
Swipe on a swath of The Apothecary solid cologne at your pulse points (wrists, behind the earlobes or knees, neck, throat inner elbows) before you go out. The Ink team interviewed the founder of The Apothecary, Adrian to get some insights into the brand. Read all about it below.
How long did it take you to pick up the craft of making perfume?
It took me a few months of intense R&D. I’ve worked on countless scents until one point that I couldn’t even tell the difference for some scent, it was intense. However, in my journey I’ve come to learn that scents are very expressive, and interestingly scents that are strongest tend to not last as long as scent that are deeper.
What’s the best way to store The Apothecary solid colognes? Any handy tips?
The best way to stores our products is in an air con room or at room temperature. Just don’t place it at places where extreme heat is likely to happen like in the car.
Any concerns that people with sensitive skin need to be aware of if they are interested in using the products?
So far, there are no cases of people having problems with our products. Our products do have trances of nuts so there might be problems for people who are allergic to nuts but we have not gotten that either so it’s possible its fine for people who are allergic to nuts since it’s external.
Any new or upcoming colognes in the near future? What’s next for The Apothecary Malaysia?
Yes, we are working on new scents as well as other products to be added in. At the moment, The Apothecary is expanding across Asia and we are very happy that we are a recognized legit player in the international market.
Artisanal culture is growing in Malaysia, what will it take for it to grow even bigger?
I think brands in Malaysia should really think beyond Malaysia. In fact Malaysian brands are not associated with neither bad quality nor horrible designs but I feel that we are often too focused on making it here than to push beyond Malaysia.
I would love to push for the notion of supporting local brands but the reality is this, economically we are still not strong at the moment and retail has been affected a lot. We will need to focus on markets that are stronger in this season and international expansion is definitely the way to go to be sustainable. Naturally, local brands will also be noticed when they have a significant leverage in the international market, even in the Asian region will be good enough.