Last Friday we were invited to MiN New York, a haute perfumery, apothecary, and atelier shop west of Broadway in SoHo, specializing in rare and niche products curated from all over the world as well as scent design, to sample some of the upscale scents that they offer. Founded by Chad Murawczyk, the collections featured in the Atelier are curated by Vice President Mindy Yang. We were greeted by Olya Bar, the Manager of Wonder, who guided us through the structure and process of choosing a scent at Min.
Olya is a slender woman in a light blue suit, with piercing, intelligent eyes. Rows of bottles and jars gleam in the low light, and the air is heavy with the scent of multiple perfumes. At first it's a little hard to get used to--for the first few minutes one resists the nagging urge to sneeze. The atmosphere is somber as a church, yet it is decorated with an eclectic arrangement of tchotchkes--airplane propellers, model boats, and unusual light fixtures--so one gets the feeling one is in an immaculately organized attic that came straight out of the early 20th century.
In addition to perfumes, this store sells candles, soaps, and incense, thoroughly servicing all your olfactory needs. Olya takes us through her process of selecting perfumes and scents for her customers. She begins with asking clients a series of questions, starting with the first memory the client has associated with scent. Every person's scent is personalized, either through a signature scent, or variations on a seasonal palette. Olya interviewed both the editorial assistant and the editor, picking a wide range of scents based on the two women's responses. Marjorie's answers steered Olya to pick masculine, earthier scents with wooden undertones, whereas Talia's responses ("I like things that smell like bakeries") led Olya to choose brighter, sweeter scents with a stickier foundation.
Similar to wine tastings, perfume sampling is an art form. There is a difference between initial spray of perfume and the way it settles on your skin over time. Perfumes can be both a method of communicating one's personality or expressing a particular emotion--desire, playfulness, or lust. Clients are welcome to come in for a personal consulation, giving you individualized attention as you navigate your way the seemingly endless variety of bottles and jars. Experimenting is highly encouraged, so come with an open mind. You can dial down scents, play them up, or layer them. Be warned, however: this is not a department store experience. Olya actively discourages customers who demand to have the same scent that a friend purchased. You will not find a one-size-fits-all floral perfume designed by a celebrity. By the time you leave this store, you will have an array of scents that are tailored to your preferences.
If you ever find yourself in Soho and need to clear your head while stimulating your senses, then make an appointment or drop in. It's the perfect shopping experience for those who prefer a more individualized experience, as well as for the veteran who is looking for a refreshing change of pace.
Min Haute Perfumerie and Atelier, 117 Crosby Street, New York, NY 10012.