Creating perfume blends from childhood

Ms Faridah Yusuf, co-founder of Freda’D, started making her own perfumes as a child in her perfume-maker father’s factory. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Blending fragrant oils to create layered scents comes naturally to perfume designer Faridah Yusuf.

The 33-year-old Singaporean is the co-founder of home-grown label Freda'D. Its perfumes are all blended and bottled in Singapore in a factory in Kaki Bukit.

Her family has been in the perfume business since two generations ago. Her father is a perfume manufacturer who owns a company based in Indonesia and Europe that caters to private labels all over the world. He had inherited the family business from his father, who founded the company.

As a child, she would sit with her father in his factory and play with different ingredients. Stirring together multiple oils and trying out her own blends, she learnt how to combine different scents through trial and error. Her father soon realised she had a nose for perfumes and could put together interesting and appealing fragrances.

"Even though I was young, I managed to make some perfumes that his customers wanted to buy."

She did not go into the business after getting her diploma in property and facilities management from Singapore Polytechnic. She worked as an air stewardess for about three years and, with her travels, visited perfume factories in Europe and Asia.

She noticed that customisation was widely available in other countries, such as France and Italy, but not in Singapore. Recognising this gap in the market, she decided to start her own label offering bespoke services.

Along with her husband Hairul Azhar, she founded Freda'D in 2014. He is the business mind behind the brand, while she takes care of the creative side of things. They have no children.

Making sure the brand catered to Singapore's humid weather, she ensured the formula for her perfumes would last in the heat.

"Some perfumes will fade due to perspiration, but my perfumes are formulated such that they blend well with the skin and with sweat. So the more you perspire, the stronger the perfume will be."

She says that even after a bath, the base notes of her perfume can usually still be detected on the skin.

When the label launched, she took up booths at local flea markets, including those at Public Garden and Red Dot Design Museum Singapore.

Today, it is available at multi-label store Threadbare & Squirrel and online at and

She also opened her first brick-and-mortar store in August last year at Downtown Gallery. The 250 sq ft shop carries not only the label's perfumes and body mists, but also has a bath and body collection which includes body lotion, shower gel and body scrubs. A 30ml perfume costs $63, while a 250ml body mist costs $27.

Freda'D also offers two services where customers can create their own fragrance.

A 15-to 20-minute session involves selecting a base from eight pre-blended fragrances, then choosing the middle and top notes to create a unique perfume. Customers can choose up to 10 of 40 ingredients.

A longer bespoke session with Ms Faridah, which takes about 11/2 to two hours, is also available. During the session, she will find out more about the customer's personality and preferences and take him through each step of creating his very own perfume.

Long-time Freda'D fan Naddy Baharin, 26, says she loves the label because it is something that helps her stand out.

The student at National Institute of Education, who has bought more than 15 bottles of perfume from the brand, says: "I don't want to smell the same as everyone else. It is easy to tell when someone is wearing a well-known brand, but when I wear Freda'D, it is unique and people notice."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2018, with the headline Creating perfume blends from childhood. Subscribe