Mark Cunningham, Co-Owner, 7scents

  • 5 Nov 2020 4:47 PM
Mark Cunningham, Co-Owner, 7scents
Mark is the co-owner of 7scents, Budapest’s go-to for all things good-smelling - from natural and organic skincare and cosmetics to home fragrances and exclusive niche perfumes.

With a successful online shop running for over a year now, he has finally opened his welcoming boutique in downtown Budapest’s beautiful gem of green, Károlyi Kert.   

A native of North West Ireland, he studied Germanic Languages in Trinity College Dublin.

Moving to Berlin aged 21 he spent the best part of the next decade working as a translator and online editor at a number of German publications and websites in the area of food, fashion and luxury goods.

Having obtained his master’s in Cultural Studies from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf focussing on food and embodiment in postmodern literature, he moved to Budapest to explore the romantic streets of the Hungarian Capital, as well as its colourful food and wine scene. 

1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
I actually don’t know exactly when I arrived in Hungary. My partner, Ákos, is Hungarian and we originally started coming to Budapest on weekends. I fell in love with the architecture and feel of the city.

At one point we extended our stays from weekends into weeks and gradually we started to spend more time here than in Berlin, where we originally lived. One day it dawned on me that we live here. I feel it was a nice, gentle transition and I’m happy with our choice. 

2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
I lived in Germany for around 10 years. I also studied in Belgium for a year.

3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
I found it very easy to make friends here in Budapest right from the beginning. There are also many more facilities here in Hungary for non-Hungarian speakers than there were in Germany for non-German speakers.

Perhaps because Hungary is a smaller country and therefore more accommodating to expats who are slow to master the language. The amount of sunshine in Hungary is also something I underestimated before living here. 

4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
There are some charming, secluded, winding streets which link lower Víziváros to the castle district above. They are such an unexplored and secretive way to emerge onto the tourist hotspots around the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.

I also love the area around the Serbian Church in Pest old town and the Palotanegyed in the 8th district. After a day of walking, I always try to take visitors to my favourite restaurant, Mák Bistro.

5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
You can’t beat a classic beef pörkölt.

6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
Irish butter and lots of hot sauce. I’m a chilli addict - from Korean Gochujang Paste to Erős Pista, I need spicy condiments in my life. 

7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?

8. What do you miss most from home?
The sea and the easygoing familiarity between people on the west coast of Ireland.

9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I always wanted to be an architect until I discovered you need to be good at maths to build buildings. I would not trust the physics of a house I designed.

10. What's a job you would definitely never want?

11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
Vietnam, Cambodia and Australia right before Covid. Just a few weeks later it wouldn’t have been possible. That kept me grateful during the lockdown. 

12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
I would love to visit my family in Ireland.

13. Apart from temptation what can't you resist?
I can’t resist the world of exciting new niche fragrances. I’m addicted to exploring luxury, artisan-made perfumes.

It’s not really a guilty pleasure as scents can be great therapy. It’s hard to feel anxious when your senses are mindfully engaged in smelling a beautiful perfume.     

14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
I really liked Björk and Moloko. I also loved horror films as a teenager but now I’m completely unable to watch them.

15. Red wine or white?
If I really had to choose, red wine.

16. Book or movie?
I love movies but I don’t know much about the world of cinema. In Budapest, I’m part of the Irish Embassy book club which I enjoy a lot, so I’d say reading is more important to me now.

17. Morning person or night person?
Night person.

18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
I’m worried about the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth which is quite apparent here in Hungary and elsewhere.

Happy and prosperous nations tend to be those in which the gap between the haves and the have-nots is not so extreme.

19. Buda or Pest side?
Pest side.

20. What would you say is your personal motto?
I’m a firm believer in the quote often attributed to Oscar Wilde: ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation’.

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