JK DeLapp

Two brothers, following the path paved by their grandfather find the creativity bound to be reborn in every new generation.

The Rising Phoenix Perfumery

Interview with

JK Delapp

Can you speak on your background?
The road to perfumery started for me in the kitchen. I started cooking at a young age. During college, somehow I had pulled together a catering company, and also worked in a kitchen for a few years. My father worked in international business, so I was exposed to quite a few things from a young age – food, culture, languages, peoples, customs. These experiences early on helped to expand the “size” of my world – and continues to do so.
My official road to perfumery began after I had started medical school (I also happen to be a licensed physician). I attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine – the largest of 60 or so schools of Chinese Medicine in the US. Compounding formulations and learning about hundreds of herbs…it didn’t take me long to figure out that all of these materials I was learning about formed the foundation of the Pharmaceutical, Nutriceutical, Cosmetic, Flavor, Fragrance, Incense, and other Industries. And like that…I decided to start a perfume company.
“The Family” has been in the industry of innovation for a long time. My father has taken part of shaping the optical, dental, and toiletry industries for decades. Before him, my grandfather helped shape the face of the confectionary industry at Ludens (remember those cough drops?), Mars Candy, Hershey and Cadbury – and was the man behind the mergers, as well as phrases such as “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”. He is an inductee in the Candy Hall of Fame (I couldn’t believe that was a real thing, either! Haha). Both forefathers were famous in the world of marketing.
And so – without knowing it…I set out to make a few marks of my own on the world, following in footsteps I hadn’t initially realized were even there.

Do you have any profound scent memories from growing up?
The kitchen, for starters.
The scent of smoke and incense – I was always drawn as a kid to wood fires, the smell of burning resinous logs, Sassafras tea (we had a tree in our front yard growing up…mmm tea and fragrant fire), and incense – which, somehow, I had discovered at a young age.

What were you doing before you became involved with scent and the perfume world?
My first job out of college was as a mortgage salesman – right before the 2005 collapse. It was as fun as you’d imagine it to be.
I worked in film and television for several years – and still do, occasionally. Then I entered medical school for Chinese Medicine. I modeled all through school to help pay the bills (sound like any stripper stories to you??) I spent a little time working in 3 hospitals in Shanghai.
And while doing all of this – I started a perfume company, eventually began custom distilling various materials, including Oud, began compounding incense – and still maintain 3 days a week in clinical practice in Atlanta.

Can you remember the moment you decided to commit to becoming a perfumer? How did you know it would be such a big part of your life?
I can. Once it dawned on me that all of these materials I was learning about formed the backbone of half a dozen multi-billion dollar markets – I began researching perfume immediately. I eventually called my brother, who works in finance – and ran the idea of beginning a company together. He told me it was the dumbest idea he had ever heard…He called me three months later and told me he had done some research…and maybe it wasn’t so dumb, after all. haha

When you create a scent what are the things that inspires you?
I gravitate towards the “old school”…Sandalwood, Oud, Narcotic Florals, Ancient spices from the Spice Trade. 
I love history, and love connecting with ancient traditions. As a kid – I had wanted to be either an Archaeologist, or a Spice Trader.  Without knowing it…I kinda did.

Can you talk about the brand, what are the themes that you use and how would you like your work to effect the person that wears it?
The Rising Phoenix about says it all…
The Phoenix is an ancient alchemical symbol in both the East and the West. It is also the symbol of the Incense tradition.
The Dragon and Phoenix are considered the “ideal pairing” in Chinese culture – and my brother happens to be a Dragon, and I (a Rooster) – am a Phoenix. Lastly – I wanted to bring new life to an old practice…and what does a Phoenix symbolize? A Rising Phoenix from the ashes is the very symbol of New Life and Rebirth.

What would your biggest passion in life be at this point?
Growing my business. Raising capital to expand – I’ve got several hundred thousand dollars in purchase orders and millions in contracts that I can’t fulfill.  And Oud. Love the stuff.

Lastly where do you see the fragrance world headed?
To a place of more and more synthetics. And creativity. And Headaches. 
Working in Chinese Medicine…there are a LOT of chemical sensitive individuals out there. It’s a real thing.

Please share anything you like to say..

I’ve developed my own network of distillers across the US and SE Asia. I custom distill a variety of materials – so if you’re ever looking for natural materials that are a few steps above what we normally find out there…you know who to call. Oh – and I’ve got Opportunity knocking on my door left and right. If you know of someone looking to invest in a company looking to expand in a big way – tell them JK is awaiting their call.