Isabelle Masson-Mandonnaud, Founder and CEO of Sabé Masson and former co-founder of Sephora, is taking her “soft perfume” brand to the next level this year. A search for new investors and a packaging revamp are in the pipeline.
Sabé Masson is still part of investment group Upperside Capital Partners. Why seek out new investors?
Upperside has been our partner since the brand was founded around six years ago, and while we are one of two beauty brands in their portfolio, their core business is in the medical and dental fields, so cosmetics are not a priority segment for them. On our side, over the years we have validated the brand’s concept, our pilot retail store in Paris, and have defined the regions where Sabé Masson has strong potential for growth, which includes Asia. Now we need investors to help us develop our concept and take it to the next level.
The lockdown period gave me the time I needed to properly define the concept, my own aspirations as head of the company and the direction I want the retail business to take. I want our new investors to remain European; we are in talks with two groups as well as a family-run investment fund. The goal is to raise funds of course, but also to embark on a relationship with like-minded partners that have the energy and the will to develop the business.
What is the brand’s retail footprint today?
In addition to our e-shop, we operate a flagship store in the Marais neighborhood in Paris and work with a network of around 50 (physical) boutiques in France. Outside of France the brand has a handful of medium-sized distributors in Finland, Spain, Hong Kong and Australia. In the US we have a distributor/retailer and we also set up an office there to be able to go direct, but that’s currently on standby due to the health crisis.
What are the new packaging innovations in the pipeline?
There are a lot of things in development that are ready to go, but aren’t yet manufactured or launched. I’ve been working on these projects with Nadine Devanlay from Cartonnages & Belles Manières and a handful of French packaging suppliers.
Our star product, at least when it comes to volume sales, is the Soft Perfume Solid (5g). We are launching a new collection in this same spirit with a slight tweak to the pack in the form of hot-stamped detailing. Our upcoming Green Gallery Series is a collection of natural fragrances coupled with a new cosmetics formula; the pack features 10 different drawings sourced from the Metropolitan Museum in New York that each relate to a specific fragrance and story.
With Metapack we’ve developed a custom zamak case for what will be our first large-stick format Soft Perfume and that will also be refillable. I worked with Nadine Devanlay to create a secondary pack that is both luxurious and partially recyclable and features an original opening gesture.
With the right packaging partner and the right technician even the most complex project can become a reality!
You are also experimenting with new fragrance formats?
Yes, mainly fragrance oils and fragrance in powder form. The brand’s approach to innovation and the centerpiece for all of our developments is to marry the concept of fragrance and care.
I won’t cut corners when it comes to the quality of a fragrance and Sabé Masson’s guiding principle is to be both accessible and luxurious. Yes, the large-format soft perfume we are launching in a zamak casing will be priced above €100, but we also offer our bestselling 5g stick format that is accessibly priced. This approach will continue to be central to the brand’s proposition.