How do you celebrate one year in business in the U.S. as a French niche luxury perfume brand looking to build presence in New York? If you’re Ex Nihilo, you join forces with Aedes Perfumery in the West Village and stand among some of the most lavish and opulent perfumes and candles ever crafted.
Ex Nihilo is a three-year-old cooperative company, started by three Parisian founders: Sylvie Loday; Olivier Royère and Benoît Verdier. Currently, the company offers 13 fragrances in two sizes, 50 ml for $225 and 100 ml for $325. Come holiday season, candles, to be sold for $75, will round out the lineup. Taking inspiration from the avant-garde and French spirit of pure refinement, they launched their product last year in the U.S. at Bergdorf Goodman.
“The personalization of perfume, which we brought to Bergdorf’s last year, gave us a lot of attention, and added a great service to clients,” said Sylvie Loday. “We waited for the right moment to be carried at Aedes Perfumery. They have tons of experience and we love the brands they carry, but we also wanted to make sure there was a little breath between this and Bergdorf’s so we could really build the brand.”
Each Ex Nihilo perfume is created with an eye towards design and architecture, while employing the artistic talents of different perfumers and a handful of glassblowers. Even packaging—bottles are housed in an artistically creative, high-density, protective foam box—is innovative.
“Team spirit is the way we approach things,” Sylvie said. “We always have something modern with an unexpected twist, and we try to challenge the classics from the industry with our packaging, designs and details, all of which make a difference.”
These elements are why Ex Nihilo has developed a cult following with younger customers.
“It starts with us as founders. We are young and modern in spirit, so our brand talks and appeals to a younger client more than our competitors’ brands,” she said. “The way we create fragrances with perfumers is very different, as well. Our client is looking for something special and we try to remain very exclusive.”
To help create word of mouth, the company depends on social media – specifically Snapchat, Instagram and iChat, which identifies within the Asian community, and offers a monthly newsletter. Ironically, they started with old-school marketing.
“Our platform was to do things in a classic way. We opened a store on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, which no one expected, then did a press launch to make the right introductions, then we focused on digital,” said Benoît Verdier, who handles marketing for Ex Nihilo. “The real challenge was creating a concept, sticking to the brand’s DNA, inventing a retail concept, offering packaging innovation and technology, and trying to disrupt the industry with our products. We also wanted to make our perfume more experiential and entertaining, without being disrespectful to the French heritage.”
Today Ex Nihilo can be found in their original store in Paris, at Galeries Lafayette and in London’s Harrods, along with two doors in Russia and two in Canada. In February, they will launch in the Middle East.