7 dicembre 2011

Ormonde Jayne: a morning tea with Linda Pilkington (3)

Ormonde Jayne in Bond Street
Before introducing you to the third part of the interview, let me thank again Linda and all her staff at Ormonde Jayne for having been so kind to me. Later she even introduced me to the regular path they use to do with customers to help them pick the scent that best suits them. This is funny and starts with some questions about tastes in food and wine and goes through smelling different raw materials and taking notes of the "like" or "dislike" and in the end trying a couple of scents on the skin. So in the end we smelled Ormonde Man and Orris Noir and we both agreed Orris Noir smelled fantastic on me. So maybe I will talk to you about it in the future but now enjoy Linda's last answers.

E: You have shops in London and Dubai and I know you put a lot of effort in choosing yourself the right packaging, the right display in your shop, lighting also while choosing new retailing spaces. Would you like to tell me more about your vision of luxury and about the experience of buying a luxury fragrance in particular?
L: First of all the location has to be right so the rest that's more expensive should go straight on the flow because we're selling perfume not diamonds: if you sell one diamond you get enough money to pay the rent, but if you sell perfumes you really have to do it. You could never ever have a location which cannot reach to the next best thing. It's like that, in Bond Street shop my neightbours are Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Chanel and here is the same I keep quite close to Cartier and Tiffany and all the shops. Second, definitely the staff makes the difference. I interview all the staff myself even thou I have management, I interview everybody before I send them to get interviews with managers because I like to talk to every candidate. Everybody who's applying for a job that a manager is going to interview and says ok this is good enough, I go and have a cup of tea with them.  I like to get the feeling of their personality, they have to fit in and be right to my customers. They have got to have the right attutude, a certain energy for life, and once I know that they could fit in to the company then I send them to a proper tecnical interview to let them know technical stuff. I mean, you don't have to know about perfume, we'll train you. You will go through a training program, you have to have the intelligence and the right attitude, that's all, we can do the rest.
Therefore when a customer comes into my shop my staff have to be very adaptable. If you see let's say a nice mommy with a little guy coming to the shop saying "Oh what a beautiful shop!" but you can see she's in a hurry, you are not going to say her come in etc... because probably this will mean a delay with her parking meter etc. so  you just have to use your intelligence and say "Can I give you a little bit of perfume to wear this morning or anything you'd like to try?" and she says "Oh please" and this will guarantee she will be back. I expect the staff to have that intelligence to reek into the customer. If there's somebody who has come a long way and comes to the store and says "I love Ormonde Jayne, I've been wanting to come to the store for longtime" they should know they have to give everything to these persons and they have to give the whole portrait. If there's somebody that is really passionate about perfume you have to tell him about each ingredient, where it comes from and how it's extracted to let them smell everything because they are interested in that. Not everybody is. Some people just really don't want to know, they just want a nice bottle of perfume to buy, that' fine and other people can't get enough information. So I expect my guys to be able to reek the different customer, that's all part of the luxury shopping experience, having the intelligence and the knowledge to understand your customers.

E: Speaking about spaces again, you recently had the occasion to scent the Hurligham Club, one of the most famous clubs in London for a special evening. I know your also started making scented candles.
L: Oh yes candles came before perfumes.
E: What do you have to consider while making scented candles?
L: It's very technical actually and people don't understant how difficult is to make candles. To make a perfect scented candle has a lot of things that can go wrong bacause actually the perfume stops the candle from burning because it's heavy and oily. You don't just have wax and a wick, you have a beautiful candle so you just put the scent in it and it changes over dinamic. We do the perfume and we don't use the same size at every scent. All other companies do. Most companies measure the diameter of the candle and then they judge what wick size they should put it and normally they put one type of wick. They have maybe ten different scents and it doesn't matter if it's oriental or it is a citrus, they put the same wick in which is wrong.
We decide the wick size with the formulation so orris noir candle or ormonde candle oils are the thickest and gluey ones so we are putting the fatter wick in the middle, so even if we are putting the frangipani or the osmantus we are changing the size to a thinner wick and sometimes that means even twice or three times as much times cotton in it. Also you have to be able to judge how much oil to put in it because with a citrusy or light floral you put 15-16% in it which is great but if you put 15-16% of an oriental your candle won't even light. You have to learn all of this like everything, like for perfumes you have to learn it the hard way and it takes time and mistakes. We're making them by hand so, when we're pourring let's say the orris noir oil into the hot wax we melt about 50kg of wax at nighttime so in the morning it's already melted and then we're pourring let's say 2kg of oil and it goes on the machine like a little plate and the machine has a vibration that steers the perfume oil into the melted wax and it's going to get the even distribution. Then you stop the machine, but still the perfume tends to drop off because it's heavier than wax so you have to pour it quickly. Also your glass has to be warm because you can't pour it to a cold glass so you are taking the glass out of the heater and you pour four, four, four but usually the last one has more oil in it than the first one and it's a bit risky because sometimes it might not light very well. I never managed to solve this problem, ever.
E: Oh, I didn't think it was so tricky to make candles.
L: That's only the start of it!
E: Indeed you started from the most difficult hehe...
L: Really! Hehe...

Xmas at Ormonde Jayne: the Navidad candle
Candles are a wonderful way to scents rooms but indeed they need to respect few basic rules to enjoy them at best like cutting the wick to the right lengh or keeping the glass clean. So as I smell some of her amazing candles including the new Navidad candle Ormonde Jayne has created to brighten this Christmas holidays with notes of clementine and cardamom on a mellow ambery bed, Linda tells me some funny story about common mistakes people make while burning candles and after a good laugh I go straight to the final rush.

E: Ormonde Jayne started in 2002 is it right?
L: Actually it started before then but in 2002 we opened the first shop . Before we got a laboratory for a few years and we were making scents for other companies for a private label.
E: Since then it's growing slowly but steadily year by year...
L: Not very much actually, we didn't do anything for about 8-10 years, we just opened our first shop and nothing more because we were learning, I was learning perfume and we're still ongoing. We didn't grow year by year, we're just starting to grow right now. And now we're starting to grow bevause now we feel now we have a good offer. I need to make a nice body cream which I'm still working on. I need to change the tube, but I'm coming to an end now, I need to redesign that to make it more modernd and more beautiful, that's what I'm doing at the moment. Once I have the body cream and the new tube I feel I can't make anything more perfect, everything works, everything smells good, everything is as how it should be. So I'm beginning to grow now, really.
E: Any plan for future expansion in Italy?
L: We just took contact with some shops, there's a lot of distribution in Italy, but we're still looking for the right one. I don't mind to have thirty selling points, we don't really want to be very big in Italy, I prefer to keep standards very high. I do plan to do it but I don't plan to open a store. I plan to have 2-3 shops, one exclusive retailer in Milan, one in Rome etc.
E: Oh so we will see you soon in Italy.
L: Definitely you will see me in Italy soon.

E: Aside physical shops you always had great attention for the web with your blog and also with the online store.
L: Oh yes, we just recently launched the new website.
E: As a feedback passionate people on the web on forums and blogs show love for your perfumes and for the spirit of the brand. How is important nowadays the role of the new media in the perfumery market in general and how has it been important for you?
L: I think it's been immensely important and I don't think I would have been able to survive with this business without this media because I started open my online because I couln't make enough sales in a shop to pay all the costs and the rent so the idea behind the website was to help lowering the costs of running a shop. So it has been immensely important to keep going Ormonde Jayne. And then I discovered the net ultimately because I didn't know anything, when I opened my shop in Bond Street I didn't even have a mobile phone, I didn't have a computer in the shop. I'm very slow for technology so in 2002 everybody had a computer and a mobile. I had to change very quickly because in 2004 I got a computer and a mobile phone and then I realized very quickly the importance of the social media. I had people coming to me saying "Oh I've heard about you on Basenotes" and I didn't know what it was. I said "It's fantastic!", so they were writing about Ormonde Jayne. So I was reading about people all over the world wantin to smell the perfumes that couldn't come to my shop in London. Then I came up with the idea of the discovery set and we were also thinking to something that didn't cost much for people who wanted to smell the perfumes so we made complimentary ship. So the new media is immensely important, it is teh future, it's an international window. I don't think we've done it the best at all, we're not great, but we're ok.

E: Let's do a game I use to do with my readers: pick up a scent from your line.
L: Oh nice, ok.
E: Which one did you pick?
L: Frangipani.
E: What if it would be a colour?
L: It would be cream.
E: What if it'd be an animal?
L: A leopard.
E: What if it'd be music?
L: It would be... Tosca... "Mariooo! Mariooo!" That's my favourite.
E: Haha... I love Puccini!
L: Me to haha!
E: What if it'd be an place?
L: Africa, a beach in Mombasa. Well I made a big mix, I've got a leopard going through a beach in Monbasa with Maria Callas haha!
E: Haha...
L: When I went down there in Africa for vacation with my husband I discovered lots of Frangipani growing close to the beach where we were and their scent was floating in the air, it was beautiful. So I got the ispiration for Frangipani.
E: What if it'd be a clothe?
L: Velvet
E: What if it'd be a book or a movie?
L: Love Story
E: What if it'd be a personality?
L: It would be... Catherine Deneuve.

With the words of Linda conjuring up beautiful images on the sillage of Ormond Jayne Frangipani the portrait of this lively contemporary fragrance maker is completed. I really hope we will have the chance to meet again soon, maybe in Milan.

<Part 1>   <Part 2>

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