Ricardo Moya is of Spanish nationality, but is completely at home in the Netherlands. He has traveled all over the world through his work as a perfumer. He has been living in Hilversum, where he works as a Senior Perfumer at IFF, International Flavors & Fragrances, for 10 years. “This profession is all about passion and as I see it, a bit of luck. I have worked all over the world and now, at 52, I have my dream job. I have the privilege of working with people all over the world, while living in Hilversum and creating for IFF”.
“As a small child I was fascinated by smells. I smelled everything! From luxury perfumes to shampoos, toilet fresheners. Eventually I went to study chemistry and in my final year I told my parents I wanted to become a perfumer. But how do you become that? Where do you learn that? By coincidence my parents were in Paris and came back with a magazine. There was an advertisement of a Perfumery school in Versailles on the last page. So that's where I went to study. There were 15 students, 14 women and me. Those were good times. I am still in contact with my fellow students. Currently, I work with one of them at IFF”.
“I've always worked as a perfumer in the Consumer Fragrances branch. That means I work on scents for household items like fabric softeners, detergents and cleaning products. I don't know why, but this branch has always attracted me. Working as a perfumer is a bit like playing soccer. You work for a team and that team is responsible for developing fragrances. At IFF I now work with a great team of men and women, young and old”.
For Ricardo Moya, that was also one of the reasons to start working at IFF. The diversity of the staff and the international character appealed to him.
“My role is not only to create fragrances, but also to give direction to the future of the company. I work with many young talents and I really enjoy coaching them and teaching the trade. This profession is a profession of passion. Ultimately, there are few companies where you can practice this profession. So, you always work with extremely dedicated people. People who are infatuated with the profession of perfumer”.
“We work with teams from all over the world. This is important because the scent of, for example, a detergent must be able to be composed and tested all over the world. In the Netherlands, for example, the weather is very warm at the moment, but on the other side of the world it may be cold. This affects the smell of a perfume. A humid climate makes a perfume smell different from a dry environment. Ultimately, we also test perfumes with consumers worldwide. They give us the feedback, one on one, about what they think of the final scent of a product”.
“The Netherlands is of course a great location to establish yourself as a company. It is fantastic here as an international person as well. The Dutch often speak several languages, so you can easily have a conversation with anyone. But the entire infrastructure is also top notch. IFF has established itself here in Hilversum because it is located in the middle of the country. At a crossroads between east and west, with Schiphol, the main airport, a short distance away and plenty of opportunities for an international company to grow and flourish. Hilversum is an incredibly creative city and we are completely at home here”.
A day with Ricardo
“My workplace is next to our lab. Now, during the corona pandemic, things look a little different and I am lucky to be able to work from home. Together with the team, we consult daily about various projects and about the composition of the perfumes we make. What we mainly do is conduct experiments. All the time!
For example, when developing the scent of a fabric softener, we have to wash and then smell. When the laundry is half wet, when the laundry is dry and how it smells after a day, for example. In the summer people often prefer drying their laundry on the line, but in the winter, people use their dryers more often. All those different elements affect the final fragrance. A perfume has so many different characteristics. Perhaps that is also the beauty of my profession. There is a lot going on behind the scenes and everything can affect a smell. Ultimately, it is my job to put together a combination of raw materials in such a way that it satisfies the customer and falls within the budget of what a perfume may cost. Sometimes we only have 10 minutes to put together a perfume. But with other projects you get years to achieve the perfect scent”.
For Ricardo, his favorite thing about his profession is to develop the most suitable scent for a product. Smelling nice or not so nice is not important, it is ultimately about the smell matching the characteristics of a product.
“I get my inspiration from the life around me. From good food, traveling and conversations with people around me. For example, last year I was on vacation in Croatia, on a sailing boat. At one point we were anchored in a bay. We drank gin and tonic and from the land we smelled the strong scents of spicy plants. That moment, that scent stayed with me and I have now copied it. That smell stayed with me because of the sentiment, the pleasant experience. Soon, I will fly to the same people for a short vacation and give them that fragrance as a gift”.
“You know, it is a dream of mine to make a product for the Spanish market, so my mom can buy it and use it. Recently, I was in Spain and my mother, aunt and her friends all used a washing product that I worked on with a team. My French colleague developed the perfume and I developed the technology behind the perfume. Turns out my mom and the rest of my family use the product because it smells so delicious. Things like that make me proud. Unfortunately I can't tell you which product it is, that's a trade secret… haha”.
“What I want to focus on in the coming years is finding new, synthetic resources. One of the most challenging parts of our profession is of course putting together the ingredients. For example, you can make a very concentrated perfume that is quite expensive in terms of composition. Or a perfume with ingredients that are cheaper, but you need more of to achieve the right scent. And then there’s the main challenge. Are there enough raw materials, ingredients available to develop the perfume for, for example, worldwide use? Raw materials are scarce, of course. You only have a limited number of rose petals from a certain region available. It is my ambition to develop a perfume that consists purely of sustainable resources before I stop working. That would make me very proud!”
“You know, I've worked my entire career in the Consumer Fragrances business. Of course, it is a dream to develop that one world famous perfume. But as I previously mentioned, I am extremely satisfied with what I do and the opportunities that are offered to me to create perfumes. IFF offers me a lot of opportunities to develop delicious perfumes with a team of fantastic people. That may be worth a lot more to me”.
“Be creative and don't copy. That is a statement by Ferran Adrià, the world-famous chef of the former El Bulli. Dare to act and make mistakes. You know, the craziest ideas eventually became world famous. So, you have to be a bit crazy to create, but in this current world there are so many possibilities. The market currently offers all the possibilities you need as a creative to create something. So, get started and do!”