Mindy Yang opened her boutique in November 2017 in a quaint and stylish space at 155 Lafayette Street in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. And in the short time since, the Perfumariē has settled in nicely. The shop is both welcoming and peculiar, on-trend and playful, artful and accessible.
Every month the Perfumariē sets out 25 fragrances, give or take, for guests to discover.
Visitors to the shop pay $20 to take a self-guided tour of the scents, making notes and marks on a little clipboard form as they smell each scent. The fragrances are displayed in grey tagines, numbered sequentially. Moving from right to left, the numbers get larger as do the tagines; and the fragrances get denser and more complex.
There are no bottles, no boxes, no packaging or signage of any kind. At the Perfumariē consumers aren't shopping so much as they are sniffing around for new, appealing scents. After considering all the option, each visitor tests out their top 4 picks (with the help of a friendly staff member). And as the fragrances dry down, consumers are encouraged to browse the shop’s other sensorial offerings: gold jewelry created with a 3D printer, hand-marbled stationery, and fancy foods including chocolates and hot sauces. Then, the visitor chooses their favorite fragrance of the 4 sampled and is sent home with a small brown glass vial of the fragrance labeled only with a number.
At the end of the month, the collection of “Mystery Perfume On Tap” are revealed online. Among the scents that visitors will smell each month are commercial fragrances, ranging from mass market scents to luxury perfumes; some are pure essential oils or perfumers accords; and other still are blended just for the shop and known as Perfumariē Reserved fragrances. These are “not available in the commercial market….and are available in 5mL, 15mL, & 50mL only while supply lasts,” as the shop’s site explains.
Makers and marketers
For perfumers, brands, and marketers the Perfumariē functions more as a living focus group or market research initiative. Understanding how consumers experience and select fragrance without any visual branding cues can be very instructive.
Brands working in partnership with the shop have already put their findings to work, redesigning packaging, rethinking marketing language, and reimaging fragrance blends to better suit the tastes and expectations of the market.
Brands and events
Last Thursday the Perfumariē hosted a relaunch event for the legacy US-based fragrance brand Caswell-Massey. The brand has been around since 1752, and has recently been refined, reformulated, and relaunched under the auspices of Nick Arauz, company president since late 2016.
The event was lively and well attended and just the sort of gathering that the Perfumariē regularly hosts for brands, industry insiders, and the enquiring public.
Caswell-Massey featured a collection of legacy scents, including almond, verbena, and sandalwood, as well as a collection developed in collaboration with the New York Botanical Gardens. And the centerpiece of the brand’s relaunch is a new men’s fragrance called LX48. According to the brand’s site, it’s “a cologne for anyone with confidence and ambition…[And, smells of] Leather, Tobacco, Cedarwood, and Oakmoss bearing a carnal overtone.”
‘Do you smell’, the shop’s clever hashtag, is emblazoned on the entryway steps. And it’s meant as a sort of invitation to fragrance lovers, curious passersby, and perfumers alike. All of whom would do well to pop in, smell something new, cultivate a relationship with the Perfumariē, and in doing so learn more about themselves and about fragrance—both the business and the sensory delight.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.