A Talk with Wim Janssens
La Maison du Parfum
What are the elements that make a niche brand interesting? And actually make its fragrances real pieces of art? And what are the priorities that niche brands must respect in order to compete at international level?
I don't use the word niche anymore as it has become overrated. I rather call a exceptional perfume brand an Artistic Perfume Brand.
To be interesting as a brand it needs to have identity, together with exceptional products.
A fragrance can become a real piece of art when you smell that it is filled with passion: beautiful raw materials mixed with a no compromising level of artistic approach and passion for perfection.
Artistic Perfume Brands and Perfume Houses do need to be independent. I believe in Independent Brands that are sticking to their philosophy, are innovative and investing rather in the product then marketing. Also the passion behind the scenes makes that thsre brands can compete without being loud. Beauty needs time and the strength is that these brands can compete while following their own way in creation. Also an excellent and selective distribution are essential.
In your opinion, has the idea of niche product become overrated recently? How would you quantify the presence of artistic perfumery in the European market?
Niche on its own is completely overrated. As I already mentioned is Niche in the Perfumery there days a word without any meaning to me. I believe in authentic and independent brands.
We don't carry any brand in the boutique which is not independent and people are really looking for that. With a market that is saturated of so called "niche perfumery" are this the brands that people not only in Europe but worldwide are looking for. Customers value the difference of artistic approach and quality of these brands. Also the creations do not need a lot of explanation, they speak for themselves.
More and more leading artistic perfumery brands are opening up single-brand stores, without sacrificing the right positioning within department stores or specialised multi-brand stores. What are the reasons behind this trend?
When you visit a store of an Artistic Perfume Brand, you are completely absorbed by the brand, their creations and it is an added value to the identity and positioning the brand on the market. When I go the the 6th floor at Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Paris to visit specific stores of brands that we carry i feel always very welcome and I learn a lot. It is also a very warm contact with the people of the brands, which I value a lot.
The reason of this is that brands promote their strong identity and also sometimes rich heritage and are playing an important role to be recognized at other stores.
Tell us about your work, what exactly does it consist of? ... Your typical day?
I do not work fulltime, I do a lot also at home.
I can start with dusting shelves to calling brands/distrubitors/agents to place order up to preparing online orders and unpacking deliveries.
The most important is the contant with customers, which are for me always the most important. As we are a little shop with a small team I do everything.
I like the bottles shiny and I love a clean floor so even that I take care of if needed.
Mostly after a day of work I go indoor climbing as it is my second passion besides perfume.
What do you think are the upcoming trends as regards fragrances?
I don't really believe in trends but one thing I know for sure and that is that much more people are looking for unique and rare fragrances.
I really believe in the power of independent perfumery and the desire of customers to this brands.
If there is maybe one trend that I see is that synthetic oud scents will make place for more aromatic and woody scents with at the same time a grow of more pure natural and rich oud scents.