The love of classic eau de cologne brought together Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel in business and in life. The founders of Atelier Cologne, this husband and wife team is of Italian descent but grew up in France using and adoring traditional citrus-based colognes. Following separate professional paths in the fragrance industry, the two ultimately came together to establish Atelier Cologne, a fragrance brand and retailer dedicated to reinventing and celebrating the classic cologne composition. The results are astoundingly original, inspiring, and entirely wearable. Here Sylvie and Christophe share their fragrance story with Beauty in the Bag.
Atelier Cologne is founded on a great love of perfume and fragrance. Can you share with us an olfactive memory that epitomizes the power of scent?
Each scent of Atelier Cologne has a very nice story.
Orange Sanguine is probably the most appreciated story because it is the one that speaks to all of us: be with the people you love in a beautiful and sunny morning, nearby the beach (for us this is the Mediterranean sea but we let every client imagine where the scene actually takes place) and share a nice breakfast, full of blood oranges that make the air smell so delicious. And not only our clients love this story but when they actually discover the perfume, they have a great reaction to it because this is exactly what they had in their mind. Maybe this is why it is our best seller!
Another story, so different is the one of Oolang Infini: we like it because this story is about a writer actually facing difficulties in his life. Not all our stories are necessarily positive, they talk about life, the good and more difficult moments. But as in life, because this writer is taking the decision to change something in his life, he will actually over pass difficulty and become an even better writer. For that he decides to leave the city where he usually writes, for a more natural place, where he will have the time to meditate on his past, present, and future life. Like with Orange Sanguine, the perfume in the air is a key element that will help him to actually enjoy this moment of loneliness, peace, and tranquility: notes are oolang tea, tobacco flower, leather notes, gin, and jasmine, which are all perfumes coming from the inside of the house. Very naturally, all this atmosphere will little by little help him to “find his way back to the ink.”
We understand that classic cologne fragrances serve as inspiration for Cologne Atelier creations. What is a cologne exactly and why do you love it so much?
The original eau de cologne was created 300 years ago by an Italian perfumer established in Cologne, Germany. His fresh blend of citrus oils captured the memory of his homeland. It offered a revolutionary alternative to the heavy scents of the times and inspired a new way to wear personal fragrance.
Christophe and I have only worn “cologne” type of scents our entire life.
In the past, I found myself in the permanent search of different types of cologne, that would have different personalities and that would last on the skin. The idea grew naturally and organically from there. When I first met Christophe, we discovered that we had the same passion for the category and we were engaged in the same on-going search. Atelier Cologne was born a few years later and we created the Cologne Absolue—a cologne of character.
How do Cologne Atelier fragrances differ from classic colognes?
Atelier Cologne is the first Maison de Parfum dedicated entirely to Cologne, the legendary fragrance classic.
We gave birth to a new olfactive family—“Cologne Absolue,” which celebrates the elegance of citruses, the traditional ingredients of a cologne. For the first time, citruses are blended with the most precious raw materials in perfumery for perfectly balanced creations with outstanding lasting power thanks to very high concentrations of essential oils.
It is interesting that now more brands are launching eau de colognes. It reinforces the consumer education about the category.
Our concentrations of essential oils are much above the ones of traditional eau de cologne. We use between 15% and 20% while a typical eau de cologne tends to be less than 5%. From a concentration standpoint, our formulas compare to eau de parfum and pure perfume.
What is your creation process for developing a new fragrance? How do you become inspired?
Since the creation of Atelier Cologne, we have been working with three perfumers: Ralf Schwieger, Jérome Epinette and Cécile Krakower. For me, it was very important to work with Mane and Robertet, two family-owned companies based in Grasse since 1871 and 1850, respectively. Their craftsmanship and creativity is fuelled by their emphasis on natural essential oils.
When I first met Frédéric Jacques, with Mane at the time, and Lorène Broc from Robertet, they were both passionate about the concept of the brand. We immediately started working with their New York perfumers: Ralf and Cécile at Mane and Jérome at Robertet. All were challenged creatively and technically by the idea of re-inventing the cologne concept 300 years after the original one. Creating citrus-based scents with personality and lasting power was a fun and enriching process for all of us.
We constantly challenge ourselves to create our own interpretation of mythical essences of the perfume world.
For example, we blend familiar notes of vanilla, amber, rose, vetiver, and patchouli with fresh citruses to give them a new and unexpected personality.
Our secret: the combination of the finest natural materials with a very high concentration of essential oils.
We have used the best of the best ingredients, and in extremely high concentrations. The cost per kilo was never a discussion. We developed the scents the way we envisioned then, at the concentration that suited best the result we wanted to obtain with the most incredible raw materials.
Our rule: Both Christophe and I need to be in love with a scent to launch it!
Why do you think fragrance is so transportive?
Fragrances have always been very important in my life. My first olfactive memory is my mum taking me to a perfumery, and the salesperson giving me a miniature Eau de Cologne, Hermes (now called Eau d’orange Verte). I was probably seven or eight at the time. The scent was fresh and clean, and that has always been what a Sylvie scent smells like.
What’s next for Cologne Atelier? Where would you like to be in five years?
In December 2012, we opened our first boutique in Paris, at 8 rue Saint-Florentin in the 1st arrondissement. Paris was the second city where we opened a workshop. In August 2011, we had opened our first store, in New York, at 247 Elizabeth Street, right in the heart of Nolita.
September 2013 marks the opening of Atelier Cologne’s third store in chic downtown Brooklyn and just this past December, we opened a new boutique in the trendy Marais district in Paris. More openings are planned in 2014 and for the next 20 years. Future store openings are planned, including: Shanghai, Dubai, andLos Angeles.
All Atelier Cologne boutiques are unique: they are furnished with industrial worktables, lamps, stools, and engraving machines sourced from vintage French and American factories.
These unique spaces set the stage for individual consultations. Clients can take time to discover the Colognes Absolues and their stories. The engraving workshop offers clients a unique experience to personalize the leather case of the perfume bottles by engraving your name, initials, or a special message on the leather case of your 30 ml travel spray. As you can see, we are very different from the competition as we offer a unique experience to all our customers.
Nail parlors as inviting as a Starbucks? Seems like an impossibility, but Julep founder Jane Park envisioned nail salons as bonding places for women, much like golf courses are for men, and made it a reality. In 2007, she opened the first Julep nail parlor in Seattle and today runs a brand that specializes in nails but also offers skincare, beauty, and hair products that are sold at Sephora and online. Building a social media community has been key to the brand’s success and now includes thousands and thousands of members. Here Jane shares her story with Beauty in the Bag.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get started in the beauty business?
I was a lawyer and worked at Starbucks launching new businesses before I got the idea for Julep after an amazing weekend with my two best girlfriends. I’ve always loved pajama parties and bonding over the latest in color and beauty. Men have golf courses, so why can’t women have a fun bonding experience at home, the spa, or the nail parlor with joint appointments or moveable nail stations set up in groups? Beauty should be about collaboration and support of one another.
What’s the philosophy behind Julep, and what sets it apart from other cosmetics brands?
At Julep, we believe beauty is about connection, not competition. By working collaboratively with the women in our communities, we innovate much more rapidly than traditional beauty companies. Last year, we launched over 300 new products. I especially love helping women push beyond their comfort zone with new colors and treatments.
Julep nail colors are named after inspiring women. Who has personally inspired you?
Marion Wright Edelman, who founded the Children’s Defense Fund, has always been an inspiration to me. I love women who are smart and caring, and want to leave the world a better place then they found it.
What is your beauty mantra?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Have fun; try something new! Julep began as a tribute to some of my best friends who wanted a different way to share in the discovery of things that make us look good and feel great. As a result, Julep is more than our collection of beauty products. It’s a community of real women who tell it like it is, root us and each other on, and never let us settle for ordinary.
Which are your “hero” products from the Julep range?
Of course, our innovative nail polish, which leverages the same oxygen technology first used in contact lenses to enable your nail beds to breathe with ultra-fast dry times. A fast emerging cult favorite is our Bare Face Cleansing Oil, which I use everyday—I even wash my hands with it! It’s enriched with our proprietary Power Cell Complex™, a trio of skin-boosting superstars like nourishing rosehip seed oil (a natural source of vitamins A & C) that helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and post-acne marks and bonds moisture to skin, as well as Malvaceae Lipid Extract™—a lipid complex that provides immediate and long-lasting hydration and works to rebuild skin structure from the inside out, and green coffee bean oil—a natural anti-inflammatory that promotes cell turnover (because we’re from Seattle we love our coffee!).
Freedom Top Coat is another—a quick-dry top formula that cures smudge-free under natural light in just five minutes; no UV light required, but the shine is very gel-like. 100% of women who used Freedom Polymer Top Coat passed the “smudge test” after fice minutes, compared to 0% who used the leading regular top coat
What’s next for Julep?
We continue to develop more skincare and beauty products, but nails is where we started and have some very big news for next year. We have some very exciting, patent-pending innovation that we’re thrilled to introduce in the coming year—you’ll see some game-changing new ideas from us.
Envisioning a simplistic, holistic luxury skincare line for hyper-sensitive, dehydrated, and dull skin, Kristin Petrovich founded själ Skincare with her mother Karen in 2001. The name is Swedish for spirit, mind, heart and soul, and själ products combine the principles of ancient eastern medicines with state-of-the-art Western biotechnology. The unique global concept is based on Petrovich’s international lifestyle; she grew up in cities around the world, eventually moving to New York, where she worked as a fashion stylist. The line’s ingredients are sourced around the world and include precious minerals, which act as semi-conductors to enhance cellular activity. Here, Petrovich tells Beauty in the Bag about her inspiration and skincare philosophy.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you become a skincare expert?
Prior to launching själ in 2001, I studied Eastern complementary medicines including Chinese, Tibetan, and Ayurvedic. At själ, one of my key focuses has been on creating the development of an all inclusive go-to beauty range. I researched the latest in technology, sciences, and diseases, as well as innovative technological breakthroughs in order to produce a holistic beauty and lifestyle range of high-end products. It’s my job to find the best individuals from various practices to source the most exclusive ingredients, while bridging the delivery of a perfectly formulated science and energy-based regime.
själ has a very inclusive philosophy. Can you describe it for our readers?
själ literary means spirit, mind, heart and soul in Swedish, and is the core to our integrative skincare line.
själ focuses on holistic anti-aging, bridging ancient eastern medicines with the latest in western biotechnology and energy gained through the infusion of precious minerals and gemstones. själ incorporates the highest possible standards for quality, product performance and skin adaptability, offering innovation and luxury to every element of the company’s well-edited, multi-functional regimen.
själ products do not only visibly restore the skin, but nourishes and reverses signs of aging. The entire product base also works at a cellular level that detoxifies, balances energies and protects the skin from the damaging effects of the environment, stress, fatigue, and travel.
Each product in the själ range is charged with precious minerals including nano-gold, colloidal silver, copper, platinum, and germanium in both liquid and solid form. Known as electro-stimulants, these minerals function as semi-conductors increasing cellular productivity, performance, repair, and penetration while leveraging the effects of the other ingredients in själ products.
In addition to precious minerals, gemstones such as diamond, blue sapphire, amethyst, citrine, tourmaline, and rose quartz naturally vibrate at a higher frequency, which promotes micro-circulation, clarity, and repair. Gemstones and precious minerals help to provide vitality in every jar, constantly adapting to your skin, allowing for maximum performance and benefits under any condition.
Does själ have a hero product? Why is it so special?
I would say our hero product of the moment or of the season would be our saphir oil concentrate; its incredibly lightweight yet contains double doses of omegas 3, 6, and 9 as well as three key anti-aging complexes. These include a bio-marine algae for increased energy and line filing, a lavender complex, which helps to relax muscles and a retinol-like plant extract that helps diminish the appearance of fine lines without any irritation or redness. It also contains essential and rare organic oils including blue chamomile for calming and soothing, clary sage, which acts as a nerve tonic, grand jasmine absolute, sweet orange and neroli in a meadow foam, and camilla seed oil base. The oil also contains a blue sapphire and aqua marine elixir, which are known for their calming and clearing properties.
What particularly excites you about the anti-aging category now?
There is something new everyday and the increasing application of degenerative disease discoveries and the application into the skincare arena.
Where do you draw inspiration for new product creations?
I would say that we draw inspiration from the latest in modern medicine as well as holistic medicine; a true integrative approach really excites and inspires us. We like to look at current things happening with our world and environment to see what the client needs to better their quality of life. For example, we are looking further into increased EMFs and radiation and the various effects they have on the skin as well as on the body. These along with pollution are growing stressors on the skin and body and unfortunately only worsening.
What’s next on the horizon for själ?
Of course, always tweaking and perfecting our existing line focusing on energy and frequency and how it complements and enhances science. We are looking to extend our facial offerings as well as expand into body as we feel it’s our natural next step.