Was there a defining moment that led you to creating Sana Jardin?
There were handful of factors which ignited the concept for the brand. Growing up, I travelled to many exotic destinations with my grandmother. During these trips I was surrounded by the heady scents of North Africa and the Middle East including neroli, jasmine and amber. These scents will always remind me of these incredible trips with my grandmother who I admired deeply, and I have no doubt that they sparked my love affair with fragrance.
Prior to launching Sana Jardin, I worked for 25 years at a variety of philanthropic foundations including President Clinton’s Foundation and The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. I soon learnt of the need for financial opportunities for low-income women, and the benefits these can bring to local communities. I also truly believed that you could harness the power of commerce for social good.
In addition to this, around 14 years ago, I was gifted the book, ‘The Scent Trail’ by Celia Lyttleton. I became enchanted with the sacred rituals associated with flower harvests and the use of essential oils in different cultures and from a historical perspective. The fact that these traditions were carried down for centuries made me want to explore perfume production further and work with the female flower harvesters to help them.
What do you see as the ’soulful purpose’ of the brand?
Sana Jardin isn’t just about selling a product. We go that little bit further by empowering the floral harvesters in our supply chain through a flower recycling programme in Morocco. Our alternative business model enables the harvesters to upcycle the waste from perfume production within the local area. They then develop and sell their own products (orange blossom water and candles) from this waste, receiving 100% of the profits. We created a local co-operative for the women and work with them directly to provide training in all areas of business including sustainability and finance.
Do you remember the first fragrance that you fell in love with?
Berber Blonde was actually another contributing factor behind why I wanted to launch a brand! I searched high and low for the perfect orange blossom scent but never found it. It’s truly my favourite scent as it reminds of travelling with my grandmother when I was young. This fragrance truly captures the essence of Morocco in a bottle. Sunshine, sparkle and shimmer all come to mind when sniffing it!
Are you optimistic that elements of your business model might be taken up by some of the multi-national fragrance groups? Is it possible on a much larger scale, do you think?
Absolutely! I want to take our business model – The Beyond Sustainability™ Movement - into countries around the world and empower women to build sustainable business for themselves in areas where economic opportunities are hard or impossible to come by. I also want to inspire other businesses to engage in a language of Beyond Sustainability™ and look at ways they can be creative with their use of waste in the supply chain and give back to their low-income employees. What’s next for Sana Jardin in 2022?
Are there new products on the way?
There’s a lot in the pipeline. First and foremost, the harvesters in Morocco will always be our primary focus. We are looking to increase the number of women that can work within the co-operative, thereby enabling more people within the local community to develop and sell their own products. I am also also working directly with the Moroccan government to expand our co-operative programme across the country. Sustainability has always been at the heart of what we do. As a result, we are always looking at how we can evolve and improve as a business.
This year we are working with G.F.Smith to upcycle disposable paper coffee cups destined for landfill. Using unique technology by James Cropper PLC, the disused cups are ‘cupcyled’ into FSC certified paper fibre which will then be used for our outer packaging. We are also working with Shellworks to transition to more environmentally friendly bottle caps. Shellworks will use upcycled fabric from the textile industry to make our new bioplastic caps.
We're also launching a new fragrance in June which is very exciting. It’s definitely a personal favourite of mine!
What does happiness smell like to you?
I think it would have to be the invigorating scent of orange blossom. This dazzling note cheers up even the dreariest of days.
Was there a defining moment that lead to you creating your own brand?
I carried the idea of launching ISO E Super plus a fragrance since 1990. In 2005 it was more of a “let’s get these products out there” moment, rather than needing to establish a company first. None of us had a clue business-wise! We were totally unprepared for what followed then . . .
What career path might you have taken if you weren’t a perfumer?
I guess I would have gone into industrial design. Back then I went through a big phase of doing stuff with my hands. I printed t-shirts, I was doing jewellery, I had a welding machine - as well as other obscure things I did.
Was it obvious early on that Molecule/Escentric 01 were ’hits’? Or was it a slow-burn thing?
It was a snowball speeding up! Again, we had no idea what was happening. We had an instant entry into the fashion world which was a good kick-start and a few magazine articles, which helped. Apart from that people just started wearing M01 and E01 and got inundated with compliments.
Is 06 in the works? Has the lockdown period slowed the development plans in any way?
We have a few ideas but need to work on a device so we can launch it properly. Let’s see…
The lockdown didn’t help us either! It is more that the supply chain gets disrupted at times.
Molecule 01 is 15 years old and still as loved as it was in 2006. When you’ve been wearing it, has anyone ever complimented you on the fragrance, not knowing who you are?
That has never happened, but I don’t wear Molecule 01 myself, my fragrance is Escentric 01. I get compliments on that, oh yes!
Is there a smell that always makes you happy?
Yes, the smell of my daughter Anna is divine (as it will be for any parent, I presume, to smell their kids.)
The Escentric/Molecule 01 Stories Editions are available now.
Is there a smell that conjures up happiness to you?
Well, more than one. Basically all the smells give me good memories, but I can mention every smell that takes me back to being on vacation. Baliflora for example, immediately takes me into a plane heading for Bali, and I start to smile.
You work with some incredible perfumers at Laboratorio Olfattivo. How does that relationship work - do they always say ‘yes!’ straight away, or is there a kind of ‘courtship’ at first?
It’s a long journey to create a relationship. I want to meet them, we have to create a “perfect feeling” that is fundamental to working together. We must be confident in each other and be able to create the mind connection that can allow us to imagine the perfume in the same way.
What was the creative inspiration behind ‘Salina’?
The inspiration was to give the sense to be sat in front of the sea after a swim by Salina island, near Sicily. You can smell the sea, the salt on your skin and the Mediterranean maquis around you
How important is is to have your own space where customers can experience the L.O. world - and what does that bring to the brand?
Both the stores, Rome and Turin, are very important for the brand, in terms of image but not only for this. People can have an immersion in the universe of the brand and in Turin we also have a training room where we do events with consumers - they can smell raw materials, understand how a perfume is made, play with the sense of smell…
Are there any other brands you admire in the fragrance world?
Yes. I’ve always appreciated the Hermès collection that can create perfumes not strictly forced by marketing.
Do you have any new launches planned this year?
Yes, we’ll start a collaboration with a new perfumer and we’ll launch one fragrance in October, but other projects are on the table…
What smell makes you happy?
Fresh earth after the rain is definitely a good one at the moment - I’m spending plenty of time in Careys Secret Garden so that’s smells fantastic right now!
What lead you to start Ånd Fragrances?
A trip to Somaliland really clinched the deal for me that there is real urgency when we look at the impacts of climate change. As a perfumer I found myself in a strange industry that rarely talks about sustainability and climate change. Ånd came about for a need to develop a model of perfumery that helps solve these issues and also partners with community growers and indigenous groups so that the brand is intricately woven with its supply chain and environmental impact rather than simply a consumer of raw material.
You have opened the first shop in Poole. It it important to you to have a physical place where people can experience the brand?
Ordinarily I think a fine fragrance store is a high risk investment for any brand so it wasn’t part of our plan. However the incredible opportunity to be part of the Kingland Crescent regeneration scheme sat perfectly with our values. Since opening the store it’s really seemed to put us on the map both in the UK and round the world and it’s an absolutely great place to experience and showcase what we are all about.
Do you have a new fragrance in development?
Yes I do!
What does ‘unstinking the world’ mean to you in practice?
Unstinking the world is all about creating greater value where we are with the people we deal with. Of course it sounds quite kooky, but in fact we really feel that now is the time to something about the state of our world and this is our best attempt at playing our small part. Since launch we have donated PPE directly to the Kayapō tribes people of the Eastern Amazon to support there fight against Covid-19; we have 20% of our Xmas sales directly to a tree nursery for Frankincense in Somaliland and are planning to support our First Nation partners in the Great Bear Rainforest next - we hope these all demonstrate how we hope to contribute to better smelling planet!
Have you got any plans to add any other categories to Ånd - such as bath, body or home fragrance products?
We are currently focused on establishing Ånd as a new brand and the core range at the moment, but they all sound like lovely ways to help us ‘Unstink the World’ further, so who knows?
Ånd Fragrance - BARE
Your brand is ‘inspired by the journey between Berlin & Mallorca’. I guess the Mallorcan/Mediterranean influences are clearer, but what do you think the two distinct places bring to the brand and the fragrances?
Yes at first it looks strange to have these two places combined. But with all in life, contradiction is key to create something memorable. Like a famous art collector once said. "I buy art I don’t understand.” Mallorca is the juice - the memory lane of feelings under the sun. Our concept is not about a destination - it is about daydreams, imaginary landscapes and good vibes only. The sun, or sol is our source of all well-being. Think about it. It is so simple but easy to forget. Berlin is where I spend most of the time, it is my influence in terms of style, art, people and a unique collective energy which influences the design philosophy of the brand. Minimally constructed on the outside and warm and sunny on the inside. This is the contrast we are looking for in our creation. In design and scent DNA.
I love your ethos of ‘perfume with a sunshine state of mind.’ Was it always your intention for D:SOL MMXVI fragrances to be sunny, uplifting and bright?
Yes, we believe the world needs it more than ever. We want to translate positive emotions into fragrances. Mallorca just happened to be part of my life journey. It planted the seed to tell olfactory stories around the sun. How do emotions and memories of sun kissed moments smell like? How to capture the scent of light? There was a strong desire to translate this questions into scents and sensuality. The beauty is, everyone can relate to this and has his own memories and stories to tell. And through our creation we want the customer to get transported to their own memory lane of armchair travel. D:SOL MMXVI, is a very personal atelier dedicated to creating scents that aim to be as sophisticated as they are simple, sunny and sensual. That’s why we came up with the claim: Perfumes with a sunshine state of mind.
How did you come to work with perfumer Marie Urban Le Febvre?
At one time on my way back from Mallorca to Berlin. I read an article in the airplane about the use of incense in perfumery. And Marie was part of the article. So, then I contacted here over Facebook and the rest is history. But to be honest, it took over a year to get together and start working. Through this a real friendship started and our working relationship is dominated by deep trust and the desire to create something outstanding. What ever that means. Outstanding for us. ‘As long as it takes’ is the time limit in our way of working. In the future we will also work with other independent perfumers which we think will be best for the particular olfactory story we want to tell.
Your branding and flacon designs are beautiful. Is the visual side of D:SOL important to you?
Thanks for the compliment - Yes, it is equally important to us. Every aspect of the brand is carefully thought through. We believe this is key to success in our days. There are so many brands out there, so you have to make sure to stand out in terms of purpose, branding, tone of voice and quality. This is why I stared this project and turned it into our own brand. Total control over every aspect of the brand building. Visual storytelling and design has been my playground since 1994. So I knew I could bring something beautiful to the table.
Did working in beauty advertising teach you a lot about what you did (and didn’t!) want to do with the visual/creative side of D:SOL?
Yes, totally - you know what it taught me the most? To have no fear and doubt. To make decisions based on your own gut feelings and experiences. No market research needed. This is where the big fragrance and beauty corporations are lost. They often don’t have this kind of decision-making hierarchies anymore. But pure love and personal commitment, the key for success in marketing and brand building. This way you create love brands like for example Apple, Byredo and Nike. As Frederic Malle ones said, perfumes made with love and dedication will find their way to succeed. Of course, you need some luck and good timing to do so. But the chances are much higher this way.
Are there any new products or launches in the pipeline? What’s next for the brand?
Yes, we are working right now on two new fragrances with Marie Urban Le Febvre. One story is about self-love and love to others, but not with a sexual connotation. It is the idea to find the sun within you. For a better place, and feeling more connected. This is what we believe the world needs right now. The idea was born last year during the mess we have right now. Another soul pleaser so to speak. Very personal scent experience. Soothing, soft and understanding. The other will be more daring, something around the idea of Mediterranean warm nights… stay tuned! But it will take some time to work on them. The last round of creation took over one year. Even though I feel will be faster this time. (But I said that before… Hahaha!)
Dennis Werner Image - Baldessarini Studio
Product images - Juni Fotografen
How do you think growing up in Sweden shaped you as a perfumer?
My love of cardamom definitely stems from growing up there. It’s prominent in baking and so is vanilla and they both evoke home for me. I also have a real affinity to earthy soil type smells like petrichor which is closely linked to my love of mushrooms and raw beetroot. Add cedarwood and it places me right back into the Scandinavian nature. With my grandad being a stoker and my uncle a tree surgeon maybe there’s no escaping it.
Your design background is very evident in the packaging and materials sent out with your fragrances. How much importance do you place on the visual side of your work and brand?
In terms of both inspiration and communication it is key for me. It’s been my starting point for my range and how I continue to connect with others and communicate my day to day through photography, scent and colour. It’s an excellent medium to use alongside scent - they share centre stage in my world.
Is being an independent brand a positive thing for you?
I think so yes. I don’t have anything else to compare it to though, as its all I know. I like the freedom it gives me as I can make it exactly how I want it to be and stay true to that. It has its downsides too of course. I find that one downside can be that the access to certain raw materials can be out of bounds due to required minimums and so on. Same goes for packaging - flacons especially - if you are interested in having your own bespoke bottle and so on. Ultimately I think it has made me resourceful and more creative in how I package and communicate my brand.
How has the last year of lockdown affected your plans?
I don’t have a physical store and operate online and through wholesale. And whilst the wholesale side slowed down, the online sales have kept growing throughout the pandemic. A lot of people have found solace in scent which is a beautiful thing.
Everything has taken much longer though, truthfully. It’s been a different way of working with little or no assistance on the production line for long stretches throughout the year. This has meant I have had to take that on myself a lot of the time. This has taken me away from other areas of the business. All in all I am happy and thankful to be a growing business, still out here doing my thing.
Are there new Maya Njie product launches set for 2021?
I am working on expanding my range this year, and have a couple of ideas that I am working on.. more on this to follow. My aim is to free up more time to create, but ultimately right now my days are spent on EU regulatory work, ‘B-word’ related issues and saving my bacon!
You run workshops so people can learn more about the process of perfumery.
Does this ever spark ideas and/or offer creative stimulation to you as well?
What I love about them is to hear people speak about what they are experiencing when smelling the different raw materials. It can be tricky to put into words how you feel about a certain smell or how you would describe it to someone who can’t smell it. It’s also fun to listen to what people like and dislike and talk about why that is. Is it based on past experience? Can you grow to like a certain note? Do our tastes change as we grow? These are all interesting and creative elements within the exploration of perfumery.
Can you tell me about your agency V. Monkeys?
We consider ourselves to be more than an agency really… we define V-Monkeys as our creative lab. The lab is based around the team we lead working with us behind the brand. It is a kind of nickname we created: V stands for our surname, VALDO, and we chose Monkeys because we love them… and sometimes we feel a little like monkeys!
I love the strong musical connection with Jusbox. What led you down this path and do you see the two as complementary?
The entire Jusbox world is related to, and inspired by, music because we feel fragrance and music are complementary. Both contain harmonies of notes, they speak a common language with words like accords, accents, top notes and base notes. Music and fragrance evoke emotions and memories, they belong to both the subconscious and conscious parts of ourselves. We are both lovers of music and perfumes – they are passions we shared since we were children – so it was instinctive to bring these two worlds together.
How does being siblings benefit your working relationship?
The main benefit is probably that we are a man and a woman with all the opposites and synergy that creates. Plus we get on very well but still have our own personalities and this helps us to analyse all parts of our projects with different points of view.
Is being Italian integral to the DNA of Jusbox?
Absolutely! Each Jusbox Perfumes creation exudes the absolute quality of a ‘Made in Italy’ product. Every fragrance is built around the most exquisite and precious raw materials available in high-end and artistic perfumery. Each ingredient comes from an intense research & development activity, which is intended to create a product that embodies arts, design and quality.
How do you select the perfumers to work with?
We know them in person, we have a personal relationship, we know how they work and what they like and they know us in the same way. For every project we usually brief the perfumer whose personality is most suitable for the brief in terms of inspiration, or the olfactive family we have chosen.
The brand will soon be 5 years old. Congratulations! How would you like to see Jusbox evolve in the next 5 years?
Thank you! At the end of this week we will open our first flagship store in Milan, where we have expressed the brand environment and shop experience through music. The vision is to increase our brand awareness and be able to develop further experiential areas for people to interact with Jusbox, be it ‘shop in shop’ or in other flagship locations worldwide..
What led you to launch your own fragrance range after working alongside other brands for so long?
For many years, Chris and I toyed with the idea of our own brand but were always quickly dismissive of our ideas and concepts believing that we worked better with, and for, other people’s brands. Then one day, we came across the Laboratoire Monique Rémy (LMR) ingredients and for the first time we felt excited and had a clear vision which led to the creation of Ostens.
How did you choose the perfumers to work with?
We pitched our brand concept to the team at IFF together with the idea of asking the perfumers to create a fragrance without a brief that was inspired solely by a single raw ingredient. Some got very enthusiastic and excited about it while others were unsure because it’s not a traditional style of working. In the end, we smelt each submission without knowing which perfumer had composed which one and chose our favourites based upon own gut instinct
What drew you towards a career in fragrance in the first place?
Over twenty years ago, I had a chance encounter with the two founders of Diptyque when I visited the store in Paris. The rest is history.
Who do you see as the Ostens consumer?
Someone who is curious, open minded, and has an appetite for discovery and authenticity.
You’re working with predominantly natural ingredients. Why is this?
Our ‘light bulb’ moment was more of a ‘wow!’ which happened when we smelt the LMR Naturals raw ingredients during a trip to Grasse. The library of ingredients were, and still are, the true inspiration for everything we create for Ostens and for the perfumers we work with.
LMR Naturals by IFF are quite unlike any other company. From their origin, the way that ingredients are harvested and sourced and their commitment to fair trade and sustainability. This all filters into every aspect of the company, which results in the purity and intensity of their olfactive ingredients.
That said, each perfumer had full creative expression meaning that they had access to synthetics as well as naturals. In fact, one of our best-sellers includes ‘Cashmeran Velvet’ which is a captive molecule from IFF
What’s the purpose of including the single-ingredient oil in with the EDP?
The oils or ‘Preparation’ as we call them, were the starting point for each EDP. We chose five single-note ingredients (rose, jasmine, patchouli, cedarwood and cashmeran) and gave a different one to each of our five perfumers as inspiration. We love the fact that one single-note has inspired such an incredible fragrance and wanted to find a way for the customer to experience this – just like we had. Now, when you purchase an EDP, you also receive the ‘Preparation’ – the single-note that we’ve encapsulated within an oil which you can apply to your skin either alone or together with the EDP.
Cedarwood Heart and Preparation Oil
What led you to a career in fragrance?
It was through my mum. She worked for Molton Brown as creative director for around 30 years, always in charge of new product development, so I sort of grew up around fragrance and making products. Not that I always knew that’s what I would end up doing of course! But I can’t see how I would have ended up doing what I do without this background, it’s quite an unusual industry to get into!
You set your brand up at a young age. What gave you the confidence to strike out on your own in your twenties?
If anything it’s easier when you’re that age because you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Naivety is an underrated attribute in business I think.
Do you recall your first fragrance memory from childhood?
In terms of smell it was of course, food. My first word was ‘sausages’ apparently! Proper fragrance on the other hand would have been sat in the back of my mum’s car. She always had product samples everywhere, including her car, and in such an enclosed space it was really strong. It’s a wonder it didn’t put me off fragrance actually!
What do you see as the essence of the Tom Daxon brand?
Exceptional fragrances through meticulous refinement.
Who are your inspirations in the fragrance world? (e.g. perfumers/brand creators)
I tried Frederic Malle fragrances when I was in my late teens and it opened up a bit of a new world to me. I still massively respect the brand.
You have recently launched a hand-care range called ‘gloved.’ What led you to do that?
With my fragrance background, and my mum’s with Molton Brown, I always thought there was an opportunity to make a benchmark setting hand care brand; it’s sort of an under-loved product category to me. We combined the fragrance expertise of Tom Daxon with the formulation expertise of my mum and added a strong environmental focus as well.
What’s next for Tom Daxon? (the brand) Do you have new launches/fragrances planned?
Next launch is a hand sanitiser for gloved next month (you can forget all those awful, skin destroying hand sanitisers!) and then we had a new Tom Daxon fragrance planned for later in the year but it may have to wait a little now, we shall see.
gloved - hand wash