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The creation of fragrance is described by perfumers unequivocally as an art form. Through scent, perfumers evoke and create memories and experiences. For Neil Morris, perfumer and founder of Neil Morris Fragrances, sharing his experiences and memories with others provides inspiration for his fragrances. His fragrance, Storm, was inspired by a childhood summer thunderstorm, an event he refers to as a “fragrant showcase” that began with the scent of the wind and ozone and finished with the sun warming the wet plants and sand.
“My passion for beautiful fragrances began over 30 years ago when I started blending custom perfumes for family, friends and personal clients,” said Morris. “With decades of exploration, refinement and inspiration from top perfumers, I’ve developed a process and approach to fragrance design that allows me to create fragrances that truly express the individuality of my clients.”
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As in all segments of the beauty industry, trends rule the market. As a result, niche fragrances are seeing a resurgence. “What retailers are discovering about the consumer of niche perfumes is that there is virtually no seasonality because people are primarily buying the fragrances for themselves. They purchase many different fragrances, and the fragrance they choose to wear at any given time may be based on the time of day, the season and even the mood they are in,” said Morris.
With his longevity in the fragrance arena, Morris has observed changes within the marketplace, including a group of fragrances that he calls the ephemerals—in reference to the plant that grows, flowers and dies within a few days. “[These fragrances] don’t appear to be designed to last long in the marketplace. Their aim seems to be immediate sales and the future will take care of itself.” Morris believes, however, that the fragrance arena has a bright future as people become more aware of the role of fragrance in their lives, thus purchasing unique and personal perfumes to reflect their individuality.
As a company thriving in the niche and individual market, Morris and partner David Garten saw a need to reach a wider audience. “I kept hearing that people were yearning for different fragrances, to stand out from the crowd, something different than what was offered by mass merchandised fragrances,” said Morris. As a result, their ready-to-wear fragrance line was born.
“This year, we launched a ready-to-wear line of eight fragrances—Aegean, Afire, Clear, Coral, Midnight Flower, Quest, Storm and Zephyr. Our plan is to grow our distribution network through a very select group of high-end boutiques that understand and cater to the clientele that we are trying to serve,” said Garten. “I think a big part of our success has been staying nimble and able to react to the market. We are not looking five years out, more like a year. We aren’t tied to the purchasing cycle of the major department stores. Therefore, if we hear that there is a demand for a certain fragrance, we can, potentially, have it on the shelves of retail partners in six weeks.”
Having a finger on the pulse of the market has allowed the company to grow with its customers. But for Morris, the contact with perfume lovers is what he finds truly enjoyable. “I love being in the stores and introducing people to my fragrances, personally explaining to them my inspiration for creating them, as well as the basic formula,” said Morris. “The blogs are also a great way of keeping in contact with fragrance lovers.” Some of his favorites include Sniffapalooza.com, Basenotes.com and PerfumeCritic.net.
Innovation within this marketplace keeps it fresh and exciting. “I love when a perfume pushes the envelope,” said Morris, who promises that individuality and innovation are two factors that will continue to drive fragrance creation at Neil Morris Fragrances.
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