How She Got There: Deniz Ataman, Managing Editor at Perfumer & Flavorist Magazine

Name: Deniz Ataman
Age: 28
Job Title and Description: Managing Editor at Perfumer & Flavorist Magazine
College Name/Major: University of Virginia, B.A. Psychology
Instagram Handle: @denizzeynepataman

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Deniz Ataman: Every day is completely different. Working in the flavor and fragrance industry has allowed me to work in different roles as a journalist (my last trip was to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to cover the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Extracts conference), an event planner for several of P&F’s industry events and an editor organizing the monthly editorial lineup which features perfumers, flavorists and industry professionals. I love that each day is different and presents a new “flavor.”

What is the best part of your job?

DA: The people. I work with some of the most brilliant minds in the world—minds who understand how our senses work to create our favorite fragrances (like Thierry Mugler’s Angel, for example) or ginger-lemon sour gummies (which I’ve recently discovered and adore). I love that I work for a publication that supports these creative, curious and colorful scientists to share their work with the rest of the world. Just by picking their brains, my view on the world has expanded. I’m forever grateful for that.

What inspired you to get involved in the perfume industry?

DA: It was always present in my life. My mother and grandmother were my first fragrance muses. Just one whiff of a perfume was enough to ease my mind when they were away. My great-grandmother has an adorable story about how she held up the bus because she forgot to put on her perfume before leaving the house.

I would try and make my own perfumes by infusing rose petals into alcohol and water and mixing essential oils together to create something that exuded my personality. Albeit, some did not smell so pleasant and the process is a bit more rigorous, but the experience certainly shaped my interest in my current job. Fragrance is powerful. It’s emotional. It’s creative. It sets a tone for how you want to feel.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

DA: Not believing in myself when I got my first job out of college. I was working as a manager for a cosmetics company and I was in way over my head. The paperwork, the procedures, rules, codes—it was cerebral overload! I remember thinking “I can’t do this. This job should be for someone more capable.” What a disempowering thought! And with that one negative thought, I ended up making more mistakes than I would have had I started with a stronger positive thought-seed.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

DA: Visiting a cinnamon farm in Sri Lanka. Did you know that cinnamon bark is actually from the second layer of the cinnamon tree? When I learned this, I was amazed at how humans a) discovered this tree to be an essential spice that has changed the entire world and b) they had to get to the second layer in order to discover its value.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

DA: I have two:

You can either be miserable or you can be strong, the amount of work is the same. – don Juan Matus as quoted by Carlos Castaneda

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious. – Brendan Gill

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

DA: Try everything. What may seem like a disconnected path to what you “think” is right, may actually be your golden ticket. At one point, I had seven jobs. From being a makeup artist to a Turkish tutor to a busgirl, each job offered me a gem to carry along my path. So often we are told to pick one thing and stick with that, but I believe we are a multifaceted species. And what makes us unique is how we combine our talents into each task at hand. Try everything, move forward, surprise yourself and have fun.

 

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