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Sabrina Co sees the world with her nose

Atin’s Sabrina Co: “Focus less on your sense of sight and go into a place to feel, hear, and smell things to fully experience wherever you are.” Photos by WALTER BOLLOZOS

At 21 years old, Sabrina Co shares her generation’s wanderlust and compulsion to document everything. But a life of travel — starting from when she was only a month old — has shaped her perception differently, not only with her eyes while looking through the viewfinder of a film camera (she’s an art photography minor) or Instagram camera (as a typical millennial). Instead, she closes her eyes.

“Focus less on your sense of sight and go into a place to feel, hear, and smell things to fully experience wherever you are,” she says. “Just breathe.”

Akin to breathing is living — and smelling. “The sense of smell is associated with memory and emotion,” she muses.

With the entrepreneurial guidance of her parents, the dynamic Arnold and Ruth Co, who have brought in some of Manila’s international food chain favorites, Sabrina put up Atin — a line of scents she customized and captured in reed diffusers, automatic air fragrance dispensers, scented soy wax candles, and room and linen sprays available at Kultura in The SM Stores — when she was only 15. Atin translates to “ours” in the vernacular and is also an abbreviation of its vision as a social enterprise, Aiming To Inspire a Nation.

You can also smell Sabrina’s scent-scaping — designing an interior environment with fragrances that resonate with the sensory cues of light, color, and music — at Net Group buildings, her church Christ’s Commission Fellowship, Power Plant Mall, and the Balesin Island Club, where she uses a scent-diffusing machine installed in air ducts. She explains, “Scent-scaping is the future of advertising: 80 percent of advertising material today uses the sense of sight. Now, airlines, too, are thinking about what the air in the plane should smell like.”

Sabrina studied in the 350-year-old perfumery house Charabot in Grasse, France for two months under senior perfumer Isabelle Cutri. “I learned the importance of the ingredients you use and their potency,” Sabrina recalls.

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But it’s her experiences that inform her signature as a young perfumer. “I personally like masculine scents more,” she says. It can be from the smell of the freshly cut grass she traversed as a kid playing football, or that clean, aquatic scent that lingers in your nose after a swim.

A spine condition led her to cut back on high-impact physical activities and instead opened her up to theater and the infinite worlds behind its smoky velvet curtains. From working on plays in and out of the British School Manila to marathoning them on Broadway and West End with her parents, she now majors in theater at Syracuse University in New York and has worked with Aylin Bozok in London for this year’s opera festivals, acting as the award-winning stage director’s right hand, picking out costumes, meeting with lighting designers and sound designers. Last summer, she worked at the international sales department of the Tory Burch headquarters in New York City, where she learned about what the Asian and Latin American markets desired from the brand known for its luxe, exotic travel aesthetic.

Atin’s Premium Line of scents, captured in reed diffusers, reflects Sabrina’s growth and flair for drama. Putting into practice her lessons from Grasse, she describes, “I have two notes in the new line. Filipino with an Asian twist.” Here, she experiments with the arousing effect of spice. The Midnight Collection, from its black bottle to pepper notes that convey muskiness: black pepper with mangosteen and white pepper with dalandan. Inside the Dusk Collection’s ruby-red bottles, she conveys vibrancy with mint, guava, and ginger and sweetens the on-trend turmeric with lychee for an energizing mix. The Dawn Collection, which comes in white bottles, calls to mind a tranquil tropical sunrise with green tea and coconut while the coconut-and-dalandan version has more warmth.

It is decidedly more sophisticated compared to the Classic Line of 12 singular-note scents featuring the evocative fragrances of Piña, Mango Tree, Fruit Market, Coconut Palm, Sampaguita, Milagrosa, Intramuros, Palawan, Hardin, Burnham Park, and crowd favorites Dalandan and Boracay. She explains, “Filipinos like fresh and citrus scents more.” It’s her take on pasalubong as well as a personal souvenir. “I want to share my memories of home with locals as well as those who visit the Philippines. I want them to be reminded through smell what their experience was here and for those around them to learn about the Philippines.”

The paper bags, which she worked on with her father, feature rendered imagery of endangered species like the Philippine eagle and the tarsier printed on and with recycled materials. It’s a step into Atin’s future, having supported the Jollibee Group Foundation’s Busog, Lusog, Talino School Feeding Program in the past. “I want to partner up with a nature conservation and wildlife preservation organization,” she says. Seeing more of our beautiful world has awakened her to the reality that we must all do our part in keeping it beautiful, too.

 

 

 

 

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Atin is available at all The SM Store Kultura branches. Visit atin.com.ph or follow @AtinPhilippines on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more information.

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