MiN New York founder Chad Murawczyk: 'I want to build something that will be here long after I am gone'

The niche fragrance brand MiN New York is now available in Abu Dhabi's Tryano

Chad Murawczyk, founder of MiN New York. Courtesy MiN New York
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“Salty surf. Warm sun on bare skin. Seabirds sing as the ocean whispers.” This is how the niche perfume brand MiN New York describes its Long Board scent. Also part of the MiN portfolio are such evocatively named scents as Moon Dust, Old School Bench and The Botanist.

Each fragrance, or scent story as they are called, is crafted by master perfumers in Grasse, France, and only one batch is made each year. They are sold in numbered bottles which, incidentally, are made on the same press as the iconic Chanel N°5 flagons. And all of this is very intentional, says Chad Murawczyk, the brand's founder, who was in Abu Dhabi last week to celebrate the launch of his brand at ­Tryano in Yas Mall.

How did MiN New York come into being?

I have been in the beauty business for a long time, on the manufacturing and product-development side, and I opened MiN New York as a retail flagship about 10 years ago. At that point, I was curating the best of the niche fragrance brands coming largely from Italy and France, and I spent a lot of time listening. I think big companies spend more time explaining why they are right and not enough time listening. The people coming into my flagship, when I asked them what they were looking for, the glint in their eye always involved something that was not new, and often they had a sample of perfume that was ancient. Whatever was in the inside of that bottle was probably well done and unquestionably resonated with that person at a deep level. That started the process for me.

Tell us about the concept behind the brand?

I never set out to make a perfume brand, that wasn't my objective. I wanted to see if I could build a luxury lifestyle brand from scratch. I think what happened, with how the world moved forward, is that the level dropped – the quality of materials dropped, and lesser amount of time and effort was being invested. I wanted to bring those elements back, but give them a modern twist. I don't make fragrances for the mass market, I make fragrances for individuals. Which means, if we do a great job, by default, they are not for most people. I am trying to connect on a one-to-one basis and make something really special.

How important is scent in triggering emotions?

People will smell something and say: "Oh this brings me back to…." – that is how the brain maps scent. The inverse is also possible. You can say: "I am going to a special event, and as I go through this weekend, I am going to connect it to this scent." You can go back to that scent, and you will go back to that place. There is science behind this, it is how the brain thinks. It's fabulous. One of the people I have always found fascinating is Andy Warhol, not for the stuff he was famous for, but for how quirky the guy was. He would have an interesting experience, take his clothes off, put them into a ziplock bag, and seal up the bag. Later he would open it and revisit that moment.

How long does it take you to create a fragrance?

Volume One [MiN's first batch of 11 perfumes] took about two and half years of ferocious work. I know there is an answer, and I won't stop until I feel I have exhausted my capability to deliver what I see in my mind's eye. It's easy to make perfume that is 85 per cent good, so what you are going after is these incremental percentage points. I have a big problem with brands that don't stand for anything. My objective – and the reason I spend my life energy on this – is that I want to build something that will be here long after I am gone. I want people to respect the work.

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How much is science and how much is emotion?

I work both sides of the brain. Emotion without strategy is not going to get you very far. There is a lot you can learn in decoupling things – emotion and science, for example – and I look at everything as components that you can take apart and put back together again. Most things that are built are not balanced correctly – I am trying to speak to a more discerning, more cerebral thinker. And the people I am connecting with, appreciate what MiN is about. This bottle is hand-screened on all four sides, and then it is polished.
It took a couple of years of work. I absolutely love my packaging, I spent a lot of time working on it, and my clients don't even notice
it. They are connecting with what is inside the bottle. And that says a lot about how I wanted to build the value system of this brand. I wanted to build a brand that stood for something, from the inside out.

Read more:

Hermès brings dedicated perfume boutique to Dubai

A chat about scents and sensibilities with 'professor of perfume' Roja Dove

French perfumer Frédéric Malle on the five most significant perfumes he’s been involved with