Updates on beauty & personal care trends, research and ingredients

Why Made to Measure is pure luxury?

There is no argument that the industrial revolution and the advances in medicine at the end of the 19th century have been life-changers which have shaped our modern societies and improved our life expectancy. But they are also the major culprits of the rather depressing lack of taste and double-sword standards we witness in the 21st century global economy, where everything is available, accessible and democratic making us feel that we have simply become clones of ourselves.

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With more bureaucracy and cumbersome regulations, we find it difficult to know where and how products are manufactured, whom by. There is a kind of opacity which destroys the value of each product not only on a monetary aspect but also at an emotional level.

When the global economy became the paradigm in the late 1980’s, I was always among those who were convinced that the future of the global economy would transform into a return to localism. We might ‘“Think global’ but what we see today is a growing interest in the ‘’Act local.”

In the somewhat standardised and rather sterile pattern of our lives, Made to measure is the exception. With the popularity of Web stores such as Etsy, many individuals have chosen not to pursue money but to express their creativity. It has never been easier to have your own unique piece of anything made. Made to measure has become the way to ‘act local’ in the worldwide economy. Thanks to the Internet and fast communications, you can be in any country in the world but dream of your unique jewel, your unique car or your unique dress made by a tailor near or faraway from you. You can commission your unique perfume –reflecting the essence of your personal moment-to remember what you like. Made to measure is like the blueprint of our personality to remind us that we are not clones or only a number but that each of us is truly UNIQUE.

We all long to express the unique part of our personality and this transforms the idea of Made to measure into something magical, starting with a meeting of two individuals who are going to have a special relationship: the creative person becoming the maker for the client who has a dream.

The true luxury today is about reviving the tradition of ‘Made to measure’ in the same way the dressmaker used to take your measurements and fit the dress of your dreams, the shoemaker used to shape shoes to your exact size or the perfumer would create your own Madeleine de Proust. It is about rediscovering what a tomato really tastes like, a rose smells like, a dress or suit that fits feels like, the touch of pure satin or silk. Made to measure appeals to all the 5 senses. The pure luxury  of Made to measure is not about money. It is truly about caring for humanity.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely my opinions and do not necessarily represent the opinions of businesses or institutions I am affiliated. 

Categories: BEAUTY & PERSONAL CARE, LIFESTYLE, SOCIETY | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can niche perfumers turnover $$ millions?

This is the million dollars question. Let’s be frank! Although we niche perfumers are usually rather humble, most of us secretly or openly have a dream: achieving recognition as a perfume brand. More often than not, in our consumer-driven society, recognition goes along sales and therefore $$.

Perfumers can be made aware by friends, family or clients that  their perfumes are better and more unique than many designer perfume brands out there but one key element prevents them from ever attaining recognition: the money.

An article recently published in Premium Beauty News about aspirations of the fame brand, Atelier Cologne highlighted some painful truth: yes you can make $$ millions in the niche fragrance industry but at a cost! Personal asset selling or personal investment will usually be the first port of call of every aspiring perfumer. Having no asset will not prevent you from getting where you want to be: it will just take longer and be more frustrating.

Analyse the figures mentioned in that article more closely and you soon realise that in order to start making real money from your perfumery business and for your business to outgrow your ambitions, you need:

  1. at least ”300 stores in 26 countries” – (that’s a lot of travelling!)
  2. to sell your house or apartment to seriously start-up the business (ensuring you don’t become homeless…)
  3. Angel investors to back you up when your business grows (time to start counting on your Guardian angels!)
  4. to sell 500,000 bottles @$54 average worldwide over a period of 7 years (approx. 70,000 bottles a year) – This comes with the appropriate production structure…
  5. Let’s not forget the most important element: a good and unique concept (we must praise the founders of Atelier Cologne for making Cologne sexy!)

Atelier CologneHamm!! All this seems very costly. And it is, as according to this article, the founders of Atelier Cologne have had to sell their apartments to start-up the business (we can assume that if these were in Paris or New York, their start-up money was probably in the $2 millions plus ballpark figure) before fundraising and bringing Angel investors on board to obtain roughly 7.5 millions euros in order to sustain the growth and meet their target of doubling their turnover in 2015 before reaching the dream figure of $100 millions and take the full share of a mere 4-5% market share of niche fragrances… This implies that all the other niche perfumers i.e. those who do not have $10 millions of investment are left with crumbs (however, the crumbs might be good enough for most of us!)

What of Angel investors? When reading this article, it is obvious that they are more ‘investors’ than ‘Angels’! A company profitable in its first year and growing… It’s a no-brainer! This article does not mention the percentage of the shares offered against this goodwill but if it is anything like Dragon’s Den, probably 50-60% of the company is owned by the Angels… In any case, well done to Atelier Cologne because these investors will usually only invest if they trust someone and if they know they can have a return on their investment pretty quickly. Unless your Angel happens to share your passion, that is.

”Atelier Cologne are showing that it is possible to challenge the perfume establishment and be successful.”

This leads me to another observation: can artists be good business people? After all, niche perfumers have chosen the path of independence because they have a creative mind that is likely to feel trapped in a conventional perfume house (except if you are the star perfumer of that perfume house like Jean Claude Ellena at Hermes).

What obviously appear to have driven Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, the founders of Atelier Cologne is their ambition, combined with their belief and passion and the dream that one day they will reach the stars. I suspect that one or both of them had learned one thing or two about business and financials to take their idea forward (an MBA maybe? Or a good business mentor?). Their business plan seems very sound and focused and they appear to have the stuff of  entrepreneurship.

Meanwhile, many niche perfumers work first for the Passion of their Art, without any thought about practical considerations. Like many artists, their name might come up after they have left this Earth because someday, someone will treasure their artwork. They could also be at the right place, the right time or knowing the right people and experience recognition during their lifetime.

So to make $$ from perfumery is possible but in such a competitive industry, the recipe for success should not be the dream of becoming rich and famous as a perfumer but rather be the pleasure of being independent and offering alternative choices to the end consumers, therefore experiencing complete personal satisfaction. Atelier Cologne are showing that it is possible to challenge the perfume establishment and be successful.

Categories: BEAUTY & PERSONAL CARE, SOCIETY | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s the fuss about Syn-Ake!

The ecological Botox which costs £125!

Snake venom

Two years ago, I shared a finding which was supposed to revolutionise anti-ageing practices: an ecological face cream acting like Botox!  And now it is back in the cosmetics grapevine as a desperate attempt by some ‘celebrity’ cosmetics companies to pretend they have discovered  the ‘fountain of youth’.

Being a usually rather skeptical person when one talks about miracle cosmetics, I thought that I should try this one on my fine lines to see whether the results would match the claims of 50% wrinkles reduction and 80% smoother skin texture. It did work: the skin texture felt definitely smoother although I did not like the tingly feeling it was causing….

The cream is based on a recent discovery which won the Swiss technology awards in 2006: Syn-Ake®. SYN-AKE® is a new anti-wrinkle active compound based on a synthetic tripeptide that mimics the effect of waglerin 1, a peptide that is found in the venom of the Temple Viper, Tropidolaemus wagleri.

A tripeptide contains 3 amino acids and a pentapeptide contains 5 amino acids. Generally, the more amino acids in the chain the more reactive the peptide is (Botox is a peptide with around 25 amino acids in the chain). However, the converse to this is that the smaller the molecule the quicker it is absorbed through the skin, and therefore it reaches the targeted site in the depths of the skin, and the quicker it starts working.

No snake is harmed to create this cream. Only the venom is extracted (in the same way as for a vaccine) and transformed in the cosmetic laboratory. Although it has been widely available for the last couple of years, in cream or oil version (with cosmetics companies preferring to call the oil version a ‘serum’), at prices between £6 (Aldi) to £38.99 (various brands), it is now being launched at Harrod’s, Harvey Nichols and the likes at £125 for 25 ml!! 

One cannot fail to notice that the price tag matches the number of celebrities endorsing it…

Is it worth trying? I’d say yes at least as a good moisturiser and skin protection screen but do not go and spend £125… Buy the Lacura wrinkle stop from Aldi and you will probably end up with the same results…

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