Virginia Bonofiglio, FIT Professor
Cosmetics and Fragrances
Because of her interest in Chemistry, Virginia took a job in the fragrance industry, while going to school and fell in love with the field. She said “I always thought I would become a teacher but it just didn’t happen that way.”
Virginia’s education taught her management skills that she could apply to any industry, such as patience, research-orientation, ability to multi-task and solve problems. But she still had to acquire the technical knowledge of perfumery from a master perfumer. (Today there is another option: Isipca, a perfumery school in Versailles, France where people in the trade get trained. Graduates with a degree in chemistry can obtain a Masters Degree.)
Before working for FIT as a full time professor, Virginia was the Director of the Fragrance Division, for Technology Flavor and Fragrance Inc. She got involved with FIT because it is one of a few institutions in the world that have a Fragrance and Cosmetic marketing program. The school built a full fragrance studio in 1994 and needed someone to teach. She worked on a part time basis until 2007 when she became a full time professor.
Currently FIT has a Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing Department which offers Bachelors Degrees in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Masters Degrees in Cosmetics and Fragrance Management and Marketing . Virginia teaches courses on fragrance development as a product and fragrance marketing. Her courses are laboratory driven where students get to work with fragrance materials. Fragrances are derived from natural materials (plants and animals) or synthetic materials (wood pulp, petrochemical, etc). The synthetic materials are the chemistry part of fragrances.
Keeping current on all the industry changes, government regulations, marketing and the current retail environment are challenges she faces. “In order to be an effective teacher of students focused on going into the workplace, you need to know what’s happening today, not what happened yesterday. You must stay abreast of everything new that is happening. This industry, like all industries, is changing dramatically.”
Virginia keeps current with what is going on by meeting with industry people, going to industry related meetings, industry presentations and doing a lot of research (internet & book). “It’s about being in the industry. As a full time professor, it’s a push-and-pull thing in that you have to keep up on what’s happening and be here teaching X amount of hours at the same time.”
She feels the most enjoyable aspect of her career is the industry. Virginia has a passion for the products and gets pleasure from transferring her knowledge and a love for the industry to her students.
Virginia thinks the keys to success in the field are a passion for the products and industry, plus, perseverance, patience and creativity. In any industry where you are making a product a lot of trial and error is involved. Success takes time.
Two important new developments in the field now are 1) regulations (US, European, Asian) that are changing the way you may create and 2) the green movement (protecting the environment, sustainable products). Both of these developments are impacting the way we design products.
Virginia loves spending time with her family and learning about interconnectiveness among different industries.
Consumers who love Fragrance