Chantal Roos started her impressive career at Yves Saint Laurent in 1976. There she was responsible for creating cult classics such as Opium, Paris, Kouros and Jazz. In 1990, she moved to Shiseido. A decade later she returned to YSL – which was then bought by Gucci, as President and CEO of their beauty division. Her stint however was short lived, and she soon left to start her own company. In 2014 she joined forces with her musician daughter, Alexandra, and created Roos & Roos, a niche fragrance company. Here, excerpts from a recent interview done at a pop-up in NYC to promote her new scent.
CEW Beauty Insider: What made you leave the corporate world and develop your own business?
Chantal Roos: It was a passion decision. I was lucky to start my career with people who gave me total freedom. When I went returned to YSL in 2000 there were a lot of constraints that I hadn’t had in the previous years. I started my own company to work with other brands and to put my hands on the product, as I love creating perfume and developing the concept, packaging and the juice.
CEW Beauty Insider: What made you decide to work with your daughter?
CR: My daughter is a musician, and wanted a little bit of money. I was overloaded with work and so she came to work with me. One day she said, ‘Why don’t we do our own brand?’ When she dropped the sentence, frankly, it never crossed my mind to make my own perfume. I had a happy life in my business life, but then I thought, ‘Yes, why not?’
CEW Beauty Insider: What has been the result of that ‘light bulb’ moment?
CR: For the past several years we’ve created 11 perfumes. We are a niche perfume category, which was created because there was a need and it’s a response to a demand. A lot of perfumes were smelling the same or being too discounted or being overly distributed. The lack of magic and luxury disappeared. Now you’re seeing that every major brand has created a private niche collection.
CEW Beauty Insider: What’s it like working with your daughter?
CR: We are the only heritage niche fragrance business that is a mother and daughter team. That’s part of our concept. I’m passing my knowledge on to my daughter. Over the years it became obvious she was creative, perhaps more than me. At origin, she is an artist. She has been writing music all her life. I learned I needed to treat her like my partner rather than just my daughter. The real creativity is to start from nothing and something will arrive. I never started that way. You take a famous name like Chanel, YSL and Gucci, and you learn and capture their fragrance. Alexandra can create from scratch.
CEW Beauty Insider: This month you’re launching at Webster’s. What made you choose them as a retail partner?
CR: Our full range is available at Bergdorf. We are only launching five perfumes at Webster, which is a concept store that sells furniture, shoes and jewelry. They have other stores in different locations like California, Texas and Florida. We selected a line that would fit with their style of store. It’s not a perfumery. That’s the point of difference.
CEW Beauty Insider: Over the course of your illustrious career, what have you learned?
CR: I have had failures, and I’ve learned from that. You never learn from a success because you are never sure you will be successful. You need the proper product at the right time. And for me, I’ve learned a perfume is never finished. The timing is what stops me because we have deadlines and launches. But in creation, you are always stressed because you are always sure you can do better. If Alexandra didn’t stop me I would still be working on it.