Perfumery Sava


Nenad Jovanov is high-spirited third generationperfume maker. The first location of the Sava store was opened in 1941. Since August 20th 1954, the perfume store Sava is based on its current address. Nenad’s parents worked hard to repay the debts taken in order to restart the business after it was shut down and nationalized by the authorities after the Second World War.
He basically grew up at the store. Since he was a little boy, Nenad was taking on certain tasks of the daily operations. At a point he got a job with the Saponia company from Osijek (Croatia), which was distributing known, domestic and international cosmetic product brands across former Yugoslavia. He later attended University of Zagreb and acquired a degree in cosmetics which is an equivalent of specialized non-university degree. After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Nenad returned from Croatia to Serbia to continue the family business.
Nenad is officially retired for six years now, but continues to run his store and business. He has the status of a retired entrepreneur. He is now the only remaining perfumer still operating in Belgrade, which had as many as 23 such stores in the middle of the last century. He underlines that it is by no means sustainable, having in mind today’s market and social conditions, to maintain such a business, so Sava mostly relies on his enthusiasm and the fact that his existential needs are relatively low having in mind his age. He is keen on maintaining affordable prices, uses basic packaging and types out the notes and information on his old school typewriter and sticks them to the bottles. However, this does not affect his customer base that is, paradoxically, growing over the last years.

Nenad Jovanov is high-spirited third generation perfume maker. He is now the only remaining perfumer still operating in Belgrade. Desires and needs of customers are carefully taken into account, and the craftsman is often willing to experiment with their requirements, producing a customized version of something he knows well. Nenad is also an amazing storyteller, able to transpose the spirits of times passed, and an extremely open and active person for his age, happy to share his stories with customers or researchers alike.

The Sava store is at the same time the workshop and the storefront for Nenad’s one-man business, where he divides the time between producing and working in the store. Less than 30 m² are available, but nevertheless the space breathes with a warm feeling of times passed, which Nenad has carefully arranged as a personal museum of sorts. Located in the historical center of Belgrade, the store is frequented by neighbours or tourists alike. Sava store is a true oasis of storytelling in the heart of Belgrade.

Most of the key raw materials come from French producers, which he mentions is a tradition of the family business. A big challenge is the fact that Nenad’s store is still fairly small despite the booming interest in his work, and thus he is not able to maintain a consistent supply of all of his basic materials, mainly essential oils. All of the products are produced and sold exclusively on location. The process relies heavily on experimenting and mixing ingredients, and relying on traditional recipes developed in the family, using metal and glass hardware and old and well-maintained tools from the era when Nenad first entered the craft.

Nenad Jovanov has been mixing and producing scents for many decades now, both male and female scents. However, until recently, he never branded his products, or developed trademark fragrances for Sava. A few years ago, as part of the Museum Night in Belgrade, he decided to create a scent under the title Belgrade Night. The move turned out to be a total hit, as people lined up in front of the little Dorćol store to claim their copy. This perfume is still a trademark of his, and he is now selling it in three distinct versions.
Overall, Nenad’s output is mostly dedicated to producing cheaper versions of known or famous perfumes marketed by mainstream producers. But he is by no means making copies — he creates original scents in the style of some of the famous perfumes. Desires and needs of his customers are carefully taken into account, and he is always in the mood to try out something specially for you, a customized version of something he knows well.
The scents can be produced as eau te cologne, eau de toilette or eau de perfume. Nenad usually recommends eau de toilette, as a more rational, affordable and effective solution. You can purchase the scents in different quantities, usually 30 or 50 ml bottles with sprinklers. However, after each purchase, Nenad will enjoy perfuming you with the scent you purchased on the spot, with his massive, old-timer bottle and sprinkler. Nenad also works on traditional powders, cremes and other related products, and many customers rely on them for years.