Maxime Garcia-Janin, founder of French indie digital perfumery brand Sillages Paris specialized in personalized fragrance, is gleefully looking to the future. And for good reason: this year the brand opened both its first retail store (an atelier
-showroom in Paris’ 11th arrondissement) and its capital, to L'Oréal group, which now owns "very much of a minority share in the company," explains Garcia-Janin. The cosmetics group acquired the stake through BOLD (Business Opportunity for L'Oréal Development), a new holding targeting innovative start-ups. Sillages Paris marks the entity's very first investment. Yet as far as the brand’s development strategy is concerned, Sillages Paris remains totally independent, adds Garcia-Janin.
Indeed, there is no shortage of new developments as Sillages Paris is launching in the US early next year. "Digital is second nature to the American consumer; buying online is not an issue, even when it comes to perfume. Sillages Paris clearly has something different to offer the market: we are the only brand that is 100% personalized and 100% French, and that makes for strong appeal!”, enthuses its founder. In addition, 25% of its Instagram followers to date are American as are 10% of visitors to Sillages Paris’ website. The first step in the US will be the launch of pre-orders so that the brand can “gauge the mood of the market". And how will the brand create a buzz stateside? "It's still under wraps, but we intend to make a real splash with a surprising proposal, while remaining true to our digital and social media background of course,” notes Garcia-Janin.
In France, the buzz has been around the brand’s Parisian atelier
that opened in May. "For our first physical retail boutique, we couldn’t imagine opening a store in the classic sense of the word; we had to offer an alternative that is in line with our online approach," explains Garcia-Janin. The store, nestled in a historic courtyard, is intended to be "ultra-personal", where the experience is centered around the consumer. When booking the appointment, the consumer is asked the name of their favorite fragrance as well as their taste in music and when they arrive on site, the customer's name is displayed at the front door and their music is playing in the background. On a tablet, the client selects between three and six raw materials from among 64 ingredients (via an app identical to the one on the website), but this time they can sample each of the ingredients, which are suspended in small vials across the showroom. (Sillages Paris works with three fragrance houses: Mane, Givaudan and Drom*). The fragrance consultation is free of charge and there is no purchase obligation. If the client is satisfied she leaves with her fragrance that has been formulated during the visit a workshop adjacent to the showroom.
This innovative form of retail seems to be the right strategy for the brand as it is averaging about 100 appointments per month. The "instagrammable" aspect of the store also plays a key role in spreading the word; influencer content on the brand has tripled since the opening of the Parisian workshop.
As regards packaging, Sillages Paris is considering making all its bottles—a standard model produced and decorated by Stoelzle—refillable (the 15ml is already refillable). With this in mind, next year the brand plans to develop its own mold so that the bottle can accommodate a screw pump. Refills will be available online, but also in the workshop.
*Drom was acquired by Givaudan last July.