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translated from Russian

Author: Ulyana Salapaeva



How Kazakhstan smells

The first production of exclusive perfumery Aura of Kazakhstan appeared in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in Kazakhstan. Aura – are the fragrances produced in Kazakhstan, but invented by European perfumers. The owner of the perfume house Olga Berner and creative director Yulia Lukyanenko told Forbes.kz about how the idea to open a perfume house was born, how much investment was made in the project and who buys the perfume of Kazakhstan production.

Aura of Kazakhstan is a rather unusual story for the Kazakhstan market. Firstly, the company was not afraid to enter the market in turbulent times, and secondly, Aura position itself as a niche perfumery, which is characterized by a composition of unusual natural ingredients and small production. All this makes the perfume much more expensive than the fragrances of the luxe segment. But the main thing that makes a niche perfume exclusive is the story behind it.

  • “Kazakhstan is a unique country, and we wanted to create a product that could convey the spirit of Kazakhstan, the beauty and richness of the nature of our beautiful Homeland. Our goal was to make scents that contain the DNA of the Great Steppe, that will be able to recall unforgettable moments spent in our country,” says Berner.

Another reason for the creation of Kazakhstani perfumery brand was the reorientation of the preferences of Kazakhstanis in favor of domestically produced goods.

The development of fragrances began in the fall of 2018. Then a well-known independent perfumer from the UK, Sarah McCartney, was invited to Kazakhstan. During her career she created more than 100 fragrances for different perfume houses. As a result of the visit, McCartney in her laboratory in London created four fragrances “about Kazakhstan”:

  • Pulse of Astana – the scent of a young dynamic capital in the heart of the Eurasian continent;
  • Heart of Alma-Ata – the smell of a cozy and welcoming city of apples;
  • Wind of the Great Steppe – the scent of freedom and endless steppe;
  • Saga of the Silk Road – a fantasy smell on a theme of the Great Silk Road.


  • When I was invited to the project, work on was already in full swing. But we still had the feeling that the collection of fragrances needed to be expanded. Kazakhstan is too big, its nature, vegetation, its rich history cannot be conveyed by only four flavors. So the second stage of development was started, - says Lukyanenko.


Later, in 2019, a large-scale tender was announced for the development of fragrances for Aura. Briefs (special technical tasks for the perfumer) for new fragrances were sent to the largest profile concerns and well-known independent perfumers. A large number of samples were received.

  • The difficulty was also to choose not just a beautiful scent - the composition had to convey the code of Kazakhstan. As a result, the first collection includes 9 fragrances that most accurately reflect the idea of our brand - the fragrances of our native land. The selection was carried carefully and impartially.

The competition was attended by works of both famous masters of the industry and young professionals who have recently entered the industry. Testing was "blind", and the works were chosen not for the merits of the perfumer, but for the accuracy of getting into the perfume brief, - explains Lukyanenko.


As a result, the Aura collection was supplemented with several more fragrances.

Land of Tulips - the smell of blooming steppe and wild tulips and Music of Mountains - the fragrance of Tian Shan fir trees and alpine forests was made by a young promising  French perfumer Sebastian Martin.

Another French perfumer, Vanessa Prudent, created Silver Edelweiss for the house – a cold and transparent fragrance of the meadows of the Alatau.

The famous French perfumer Luca Suzac, who developed perfume compositions for Amouage, Givenchy, Chopard, Armani, etc., made Black Gold – a fragrance of western Kazakhstan.

  • “Until today, Kazakhstan has not had its own perfume production. Therefore, taking as a basis the experience of Italian and French manufacturers of niche perfumes, we have created a similar production in Kazakhstan. To do this, some of our employees have completed an internship in Europe. We also buy perfume compositions in the EU, all other stages of production of our fragrances are carried out in Kazakhstan.


Historically, niche perfume houses produce their products almost manually, at semi-automated facilities with a multi-level quality control system. Therefore, our production of fragrances is not produced on an assembly line, and this gives us the opportunity to produce products of the highest quality," says Berner.


According to Olga Berner, the production of perfume products consists of several technological stages. First, the fragrance formula is compiled and tested, then a perfume composition is made, which is then mixed with alcohol and other components according to the formula to obtain the finished product. The resulting mixture must be put on aging for a certain time (from four weeks to one and a half years, depending on the complexity of the formula), after which it is waiting for the stages of filtration, maceration and additional settling. Only after that, the mixture passes the final control in the laboratory and can be considered a finished product of proper quality. The resulting product is poured into vials, sealed, labeled and packed in cardboard boxes and a special film.

The first investment in Aura amounted to about 300 million tenge. This is the owner's own funds.

  • During the year, we plan to invest approximately the same amount for marketing and strengthening production. According to our calculations, production can pay off within 3 years under a positive economic scenario. The marginality is approximately 25%,” says Berner.

 For the start of sales, the company has released about 5,000 units of products (for niche perfumes, this is quite a lot). And now the production also constantly produces products.

  • “We live in the era of the Internet and fast consumption. Now it is not enough just to develop a good product in a beautiful package and bring it to the market, even a well-thought-out advertising company does not always guarantee a good result. There is an overabundance of information around us, brands and flavors appear like mushrooms after the rain, and the buyer begins to look for something real behind all this - the soul of the product, its uniqueness. Now more than ever, it is important to re-establish personal communication with your customers, to speak the same language with them, to sell not just a product, but a product with a history, the value of which is measured not only in monetary terms. This principle is the basis for a new format of customer service for our branded boutique in Almaty. According to the same scheme, it is planned to open a point of sale in Nursultan by the end of this year," the businesswoman says.


Also, Aura products can be purchased in the online store that delivers throughout Kazakhstan and to all countries of the world. For example, the fragrance Heart of Alma-Ata in a bottle of 95 ml and in a gift wooden casket can be bought  for 155 thousand tenge, and a miniature of the same fragrance in 18 ml for 19 thousand tenge. A bottle of Black Gold in a wooden casket will cost fans of niche perfumes 168 thousand tenge.


  • “During the first month of operation, our fragrances went to Europe and America, the Persian Gulf countries and even Israel. But so far, the most active buyers of our site are residents of Russia. We are also actively working to promote the brand in the market of luxury souvenirs and in the corporate sector. After all, Aura of Kazakhstan fragrances are a wonderful gift not only for foreign guests, but also for business partners, colleagues, and relatives," Berner explained.


The company has developed a marketing plan that includes the brand's entry into world markets.


  • “Next year, we plan to participate in two major perfume exhibitions INTERCHARM (Russia) and ESXENCE (Italy) to increase brand awareness abroad. We also plan to expand the line of fragrances-as well-known perfume houses do: we expect to release a new fragrance once a year or for some significant event,” Lukyanenko said.


  • “But the most important task is to create not just a perfume brand, but a perfume house, as it was in the last century, before the era of industrial production and rapid consumption. Create beautiful fragrances dedicated to the beauty and diversity of Kazakhstan's nature, our unique cultural traditions and rich history. Outside of fashion and current trends," Berner concluded.




Ароматы Родной Земли в работах лучших европейских парфюмеров

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