A Joyful Mess

A Joyful Mess

Summery of our live chat with Mariia Ariette
Written by LC James
Purvi Joshi didn’t set out to create a fragrance brand. There were no sleek pitches to venture capital funders, no prior industry connections to play on, and no true intention to enter into the increasingly crowded field of new niche fragrance brands. Instead, Purvi had a million pieces to pick up and reassemble. Those pieces became PEOSYM. Standing for “Personal Expression Of Stories, Yearnings & Memories”, Joshi joined fragrance content creator Mariia Ariette for a live interview discussing the brand’s origins, her scent memories, and how she embraces chaos.

PEOSYM began out of a life in chaos, a fact Joshi tells the audience with a warm smile. Joshi wrestled with a series of challenges all at once: a child born with complications that required intensive medical care, and, two years into that challenge, a diagnosis of postpartum depression.
She credits the unconditional support of her partner and family during this time, but also says she turned to social media and discovered the niche fragrance community, a world she calls “shiny”. While embracing a newfound love of niche fragrance, she also noticed the emotional tone of social media.
“Everybody is like, really happy, on vacation, having the best time of their life, and whenever I had a low day, it made me feel like, is there something wrong with me, or does no one want to talk about [it]?”

Bothered by the emotional isolation and thinking deeply about niche perfume, Joshi suffered another blow with the loss of her mother, who she describes as a “force of nature”. In the midst of this chaos, she decided to create PEOSYM’s first fragrance: Lost Wonderer. 

Lost Wonderer is an utterly tender, charming blend of ground spices, warm vanilla, amber, and musk. It is the olfactive equivalent of being invited into a home and offered a cup of tea. Joshi notes that the scent is a memory of her mother; a reflection of the joy she found in domestic chaos, and an invitation to a dialogue on grief, intimacy, and “not being okay”.

Initially thinking that this olfactory tribute would be the brand’s only launch, one of Joshi’s life rules came into play.
“Moving on is okay. Giving up is not…until you have tried everything.”
With that tenacity, Joshi reached out to large fragrance creation firms. She says she never expected a response, as her production was so small she didn’t think anyone would “entertain the idea.” She received a series of polite nos, run-arounds, and deferrals before eventually finding a firm that shared her vision: Givaudan.

This series of rejections shaped Joshi’s thinking about how things had to happen for both her brand and her life, realizing that letting go of an idea was not a defeat, but an opportunity for another beautiful thing to come to you out of the chaos. This lesson became the brand’s second
scent: Nirmohee. Meaning “the detached one”, Nirmohee is the olfactive equivalent of an impressionist’s water lily - something floating by with no agenda, offering beauty if you pay close enough attention.
“...[You] have to accept that you can miss out on more beautiful things, when you cling on to something that doesn’t serve you anymore….[I had to be] taught that…and that’s why I thought the name was appropriate.”

Taking what she learned about the business, development, and craft of fragrance from her previous launches, Joshi began work on PEOSYM’s third and most recent scent: Horn OK Please in collaboration with Firmenich. 
This scent pulled a joyful chaos out of Joshi’s memories of her home in India, which Ariette echoed from her travel experience. The scent’s name comes from a common motif painted on vehicles in India, which tells drivers to sound their horn if they wish to pass the vehicle.
Joshi wanted this scent to be a white floral, but “messy” and “lovingly chaotic”. The scent was meant to be imbued with an essential element of public life in her hometown: navigating shop traffic. She describes it as “Everyone zigzagging around you, all the rickshaws and bicycles and scooters and…you just
have to believe that people see you and you just walk…you have to believe you’re going to be alright!
There are flower vendors everywhere on the ground. Some might have a stand or something, but nobody has a [storefront] or anything. There are spices and jewellery and…household items. Just like everything is in one place…with little tiny lanes going through, right? You can’t even walk without bumping into another person! [...] That’s the life experience I was looking for [in the scent].

Horn OK Please captures a “cheekiness” and “sense of humor”, a sort of social awareness that this chaos is not only part of the cadence of life, but a perfect metaphor for it: “Right opportunity. Right noise. Propel forward.” Joshi describes the scent better than I ever could: “Imagine you smell like Shah Rukh Khan in his signature pose - with a warm dimpled smile, open arms, and a brand-new leather jacket.”

Joshi encourages everyone to embrace their own chaos. Her advice to aspiring perfumers and brand owners is to anchor your creations in what you love. “It has to come from you, and…[you] have to love it.” More than notes on fragrance development, Joshi says creators have to “have heartbreak. You have to know what…loss is, what anger is.” You have to move forward with your cracks showing, because it makes you beautiful.

Purvi Joshi’s PEOSYM is an exploration of chaos, memory, movement, and joy. The scents are like loud, overlapping conversations with friends, multiple interruptions that aren’t rude, but are part of how well you know them. It is defiant in its optimism, the choice to find joy when order is not present.
Its exploration of Indian scent culture and olfactive memory is vital to the landscape of niche perfumery both in cultural representation and in how grounded all of the scents are in place and feeling. The fragrances are not simply another indent in a worn-down path of abstracted florals and spices. They move. They all have a personality. They’re all warm. They are all a perfect reflection of a woman’s unique chaos, and the goodness that happens when
it’s embraced.

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