Taking a cue from Birchbox, which changed the way beauty devotees experience the latest mini skin care and cosmetic items, Fragrance Republ!c has a similar goal. Modeled on the principles of artistic freedom, democratic vote and active participation, the fragrance company aims to deliver a 15-ml bottle of an original scent, created by independent perfumers from all over the world, every month to subscribers’ doorsteps.
“The fragrance industry is owned by very large corporations,” said Francois Duquesne, who is one of the four founders/owners of Fragrance Republ!c. (The other three are Bradley and Jonina Skaggs, a branding husband and wife team, and Manuel Varliette.) “I found perfumers were frustrated to make fragrances that were constantly retouched, reworked and went through focus groups. Their creation is not their creation anymore, it’s a compromise.”
According to Francois, a perfume launches every day with about 1,000 being released each year. “The goal is to bring consumers in search of more authentic products together with perfumers who were in search of more creative drive,” he explained. “The club is to help people go through the jungle and educate them while allowing them to be interactive in the process.”
Online participation is a heavy part of the Soho-based company’s concept. Aside from discovering original fragrances, members are encouraged to rate the monthly winner, suggest names of the product and offer insights in an online forum. They are also invited to meet perfumers online or in person when available, to go to the monthly gatherings, or to attend master classes and special events.
For the timid tester, $100 will get you a three-month trial, for $200, six months. For the olfactory aficionado monthly membership is $29, with two months gratis. If more participation is what one craves, $1,200 will earn you a ‘Senator’ position, which can garner a chance to work with a perfumer on their scent or a seat for two months on the rotating Fragrance Republ!c Advisory Board, which determines future fragrances to be released.
Recently, Fragrance Republ!c, whose manufacturing plant is in France, saluted its fourth perfumer of the month, Amélie Bourgeois, who created FR! 01/04.
“I wanted my perfume to be as bright and exhilarating as a weekend getaway to Argentina,” said Amélie, who won for the month of January, adding that she was able to create her concoction within a year. “When I work on a project with a brand the brand gives tight restrictions, limits and budgets with specific ingredients and no freedom. Here, I’m given enormous freedom with no restrictions.”
Past perfumers include: Nathalie Feisthauer, Julie Massé and Cécile Matton. February pays tribute to Antoine Lie while March highlights Karine Chevallier.