A decade ago, Sylvie Ganter and her husband, Christophe Cervasel, co-founded Atelier Cologne, the first perfume house to create pure perfumes inspired by eau de cologne. “Our goal was to create fresh, transparent scents with lasting power on the skin using natural ingredients harvested from all over the world,” said the 46-year-old Parisian. “We launched the brand in New York at Bergdorf Goodman, in the middle of a snowstorm, and in Neiman Marcus across the U.S., in the fall of 2009. Entering some of the most prestigious department stores in the world was an unbelievable first step.” Others have followed. They opened their first boutique on Elizabeth Street, in New York, in 2011. Paris followed a year later. Then China. In 2017, the independent, olfactory-focused brand was acquired by L’Oréal. Today, more than 500,000 bottles have been sold in 24 stores located in more than 30 countries. Somehow, Sylvie, who is a CEW Scent Innovator Award winner, found time to talk with Beauty News for our 5 Minutes With…feature.
Beauty News: What are the positives and negatives of going from an independently run business to joining a powerhouse like L’Oreal?
Sylvie Ganter: The main positives are how much new resources we started receiving internationally to feed and support the international growth of the brand since we joined L’Oréal. It really made a difference as a handful of us used to do everything. Negatives are how many more meetings it involves.
BN: What kinds of changes to the brand have happened since it was acquired?
SG: One main change is that we went from seven to 23 Atelier Cologne free-standing stores around the globe in just two years since we got acquired. Also, we discovered how natural our perfume formulas truly are and how differentiating it actually is.
BN: What kind of voice or input do you still have with the brand?
SG: I have still a lot of creative freedom and am very involved in all brand activities.
BN: What’s your business approach to helping grow a successful company?
SG: Sharing our passion through meaningful retail experience.
BN: What kind of market shift in the fragrance category have you seen over the past year?
SG: People have been paying more and more attention into what goes into their skin care products, what they really apply on their skin, what are the ingredients used, etc.
Go with the flow. — Sylvie Ganter
BN: And what kinds of trends are you seeing?
SG: A need to be fully transparent on what goes into a product.
BN: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
SG: Get sh-t done!
BN: Greatest accomplishment thus far?
SG: My family, with five kids.
BN: What’s a specific mistake you’ve made?
SG: Not listening to my gut.
BN: What beauty product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
SG: Tata Harper, because I know what goes inside.
BN: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
SG: You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
BN: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
SG: It’s not all about how much you made through sales, it’s about how much is left in the bank at the end of the day.
BN: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
SG: Go with the flow.