Posts Tagged With: Art of perfumery

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

Presenting the Perfumery Art School UK…

I always love new challenges, particularly when they pertain to the Future of Perfumery. All those who follow my work also know that I keep on advocating education in Aromas & Scents and as a qualified teacher, it was thus natural to create a School rather than just organising workshops introducing the Art of Perfumery…

The Perfumery Art Schools Logo Original BG avatar icon

So I embarked on a journey that has lasted 18 months to create the first ‘virtual’ Perfumery Art School in the United Kingdom. We launched the first course called ‘Certificate in Perfumery Art’ a few days ago!  And we already have student from all the corners of the world.

This course teaches the A to Z of the Art of Perfumery according to the methods used by the Master Blenders from the House of Grasse. It is a Level 3 programme in the UK standards (Certificate level). The Perfume Foundation, a consumer organisation based in Brussels whose mission is to protect the Heritage and the Art of Perfumery and that is constantly challenging the EU and IFRA regulations –  is the Certification body for the course.

To teach the Art of Perfumery online, there is a need for a methodological approach, that gets away from a standard PDF or lecture format. I created a methodology called ‘S C E N T (c)’  for ‘SMELL’, ‘CREATE’, ‘EXPLORE’, ‘NURTURE’ and ‘TRANSLATE’.

The concept of this methodology is that it introduces the learner immediately to SMELLING and CREATING while the more standard modules related to History, Health & Safety and Hygiene in the Perfume environment and Project Management & Marketing are completing the in-depth learning without boring the learner. The key is to help the students to unleash the artist within while using a structured approach based on knowing all the facets of an ingredient whether its odour, aromatic compound and matching capacities.

Learning Authoring and Learning Management Content tools was not easy… These tools, in my view, represent the Future for the teaching of any subject to higher education learners who are, for most of them professionals who do not have the possibility to take a long break from their work and go back to school. Authoring requires that one gets deeper into the knowledge of programming even though these tools are usually adapted to course developers who do not know html.  But to the learner, it is a user-friendly experience online – with a lot of interactivity which makes it easier to remember but also less lonely…

The Perfumery Art Schools Logo Writing the course and finding a manufacturer to put the student perfumer kit together, were the biggest challenges of all. I finally found an independent French perfumer who thanks to his long standing contacts in Grasse has done a great job in preparing a unique perfumer kit. The Perfumery Art School is offering a complete kit that includes 38 natural aromatic compounds, the perfume bases (alcohol, oils), various waxes and butters and the complete glassware and accessories… This means you do not need to go out and buy anything and can just start learning the Art of Perfumery.

The course is hosted on SCORM Cloud, a SCORM compliant system (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), a standard for Web-based eLearning. As a student, you receive a private invitation to join the course and all you need is to play the course. You can stay or return on each page as long and as often as you want.

Upon completion of the course (expected within 18 months), the student receives the Certification as soon as their perfume project has been assessed by the School Committee.  With this exceptional and unique course, the student can either start their own independent perfume business or join a perfume house that requires a deep knowledge of naturals and the Art of Perfumery. The School has already concluded a few partnerships with some perfume & cosmetics houses and manufacturers in various countries to accept internships, for those students who would like to make a career out of their study.

Station SeychellesPartnerships have also been agreed to deliver practical workshops and courses in the UK and France (these are not part of the online courses and are optional). The ‘onsite’ campus for the school has been established in the heart of the island of Mahe, in the Seychelles. Students who join the practical and short courses that will be organised there will have a unique opportunity to discover the Abundance of the tropical Nature of the Seychelles, smelling for real the exotic flowers and plants such as ylang ylang or patchouli or the spices such as cinnamon, clove and vanilla that grow locally – or simply smelling and discovering genuine marine and ozonic scents!

My mission is to educate as many people as possible about creating beautiful scents in the most traditional way while applying the Ancient methods to modern tools. Students at the Perfumery Art School come from all over the world…

For more information, please visit

Categories: AROMAS & SCENTS NEWS, SOCIETY | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the vineyards of South Burgundy: when wine and perfume are a marriage of Principles…

This is the view I will enjoy every morning for the next 6 months from the apartment where my partner and I are staying in a small rural village on a hill in the heart of the famous ”Pouilly Fuissé” South Burgundy wine region!

There is a good reason why I am here: it is just inspiring and for me to be able to deliver the accredited Level III perfumery course I have put together, inspiration and quietness were needed… Plus it was just the good opportunity to reconcile with my French roots but above all, to proceed with one of my strong interests: the traditional wine-making process or Terroir wine-making! And I could not find a better place than Pouilly-Fuissé in South Burgundy to look  more into how wine and perfume are a ‘Marriage of Principles‘!

” Terroir”- From the French word ‘terre’ (land)*

The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine ‘Appellation d’origine contrôlée‘ (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe.

Terroir’ is originally a French term in wine, coffee and tea used to denote the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestowed upon particular produce. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.

* Source: Wikipedia

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about  similarities between perfume-making and wine-making and in the short 2 weeks since I have arrived in South Burgundy, I had the chance to meet Roger Saumaize, one of the  most reputed wine makers and growers of white grapes for Burgundy superior quality wine. He is a practitioner in ‘biodynamic wine‘, a holistic and ecological form of agriculture based on a spiritual/practical philosophy, called ‘anthroposophy‘, which includes understanding the ecological, the energetic, and the spiritual in nature.

I prefer calling the likes of Roger, Natural Winegrowers… And like Natural perfumers, their methods which are basically Ancient and Traditional methods going back centuries are controversial. One of the aspects I learnt about the ‘biodynamics’ principle is that the alcohol in the wine is created just by adding sugar in the grapes! After having crushed and pressed the grapes, the mixture is transferred into a drum and sugar is added. During the fermentation process an every other day, the blend is BEATEN UP with a special stick (bâtonnage process) because the stirring of the fine lees (sediments) remaining in the barrel of unfinished wine enriches the wine flavours and gives it this ‘animalic’, ‘earthy’ taste while ensuring that the fruity aromas are equally present. In other terms, this very traditional and painstaking process is the equivalent of stirring your perfume everyday for several weeks, allowing the sediments of natural essential oils to blend and impregnate the scent before you start the decanting process.

I was stunned when Roger showed us blackboards on the barrels in his cellar in which various acidic levels were written including ‘lactic acid’, an acid derived from milk! Who could have known that this could come from grapes! But then Roger explains that it all comes from the way they treat the soil (the Terroir). Because lactic acid comes from a bacteria  and this very bacteria creates the FERMENTATION process! And in biodynamic growing, the focus is not on adding chemical fertilisers but on digging deep in the soil to extract the minerals and bacteria and brings them up to the grapevines who will ‘feed’ and ‘grow’ organically.

 Another similarity between wine and perfume-making is adding ‘new’ on top of ‘old’ where the old takes over the new. In the traditional Art of perfumery, and because the essential oils can be altered year on year by the quality of the crops, we always keep a good percentage of the old recipe from a fragrance and add the new blend on top of it. This mainly allows for consistency in the smell because the ‘old’ blend that has been sitting for much longer will tend to impose itself over the newly added concentrate.

During my visit in the cellar, I learnt that the white wine-makers are faced with a similar ordeal: how to achieve balance and ensure that the wine does not taste too powerful? New wine is added into old wine barrels! It is worth noting here is that the oak-tree wood from the barrel will also exude into the wine and give it its Terroir taste. In traditional perfumery, if you want your perfume to smell woodier or to fix more, one of the method is to let it sit in an oak-tree barrel… This is how a Grand Cru wine can be accomplished. In perfumery, this is how a VINTAGE perfume will be achieved!

Categories: DISCOVERY | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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