A leader in the luxury home fragrance space since 1992, Laura Slatkin is known for her classical style, discerning taste and creativity, all of which she brings to her company, Nest New York. After three years of development, Laura launched the brand in 2008 with an inaugural collection of luxury scented candles designed to appeal to consumers with an affinity for home fragrance.

In 2013, Laura designed and launched the Nest Fine Fragrances Collection, which tapped into the shift toward artisanal scents. In 2019, the brand launched its Fragranced Body Care collection, which offers active, wellness-focused consumers the ability to incorporate Nest New York’s fragrances into their everyday lifestyle—at home or on the go.

Laura is committed to various causes outside the fragrance realm, most notably autism, as her son David is on the autism spectrum. In 2003, Laura, her husband Harry, and close colleagues, co-founded Next for Autism, an organization that transforms the national landscape of services for people with autism by strategically designing, launching and supporting innovative programs.

Here, we caught up with Laura about how the brand attracts new customers, its best sellers, what we can expect for the fourth quarter and beyond.

Planning inventory was the most challenging aspect of running a business during COVID-19. When the pandemic hit and retail stores closed, we prudently forecasted our business down 35 percent believing that the economic impact on our country would be devastating and that this kind of business disruption could send us spiraling into a deep recession, if not a depression. The team didn’t expect a surge in demand for products so significant it would offset any larger macroeconomic influences. In fact, Nest New York is exceeding 2020 goals. Needless to say, there were a lot of purchase orders that were canceled, reinstated, adjusted, and readjusted. Right now, we do not have enough product to meet the demand and we feel very fortunate to be in this position.

The biggest opportunity for us over the next three years is customer acquisition and innovation. Everyone who knows Nest, loves Nest, but our brand awareness is still a challenge.  We want to be with [our customers] when they go out in the evening, when they’re driving in their car, when they’re working from home, when they’re relaxing with their family and when they’re entertaining close friends.

Self-care is also a big opportunity as we are uniquely positioned at the intersection of self-care, home care and personal care; we can deliver a unique fragrance experience to consumers who are seeking to create special fragranced moments and rituals in their lives.

Just as the pandemic started, we redesigned and replatformed our website. We simplified it and made it super easy to navigate, while layering in lifestyle photography and content, so it’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to shop. The brand’s breadth of assortment, holiday gift packaging, and gifting programs like subscriptions and custom gifts, combined with a consumer-friendly website have all resonated with shoppers. The new technology platform and consumer experience has outperformed all of Nest’s website KPIs by double-digits and gives the brand a strong foundation for future growth. The site offers consumers ways to experience all four product categories—body, fine fragrance, home and fragrance technology —holistically.

When it comes to acquiring new customers, the brand is developing strategic partnerships and collaborations with like-minded brands that expose us to a new audience. We’re getting very creative about these partnerships and we are making a serious commitment to this effort.

In addition, Nest is focusing on digital acceleration. Our primary focus through digital marketing has been on leveraging paid social and paid search platforms to drive new customer acquisition, and year over year our website’s customer base has almost doubled, which is truly evidence of the brand’s timeliness and resilience during this difficult time. We are also focusing on building social media presence with our loyal fan base.

We have a strong online presence with our own site in addition to all of our retail partners; we have a strong digital advertising strategy and focus on customer engagement and acquisition on social media. We are sold at more than 2,000 boutiques throughout the country, each with its own social presence. For Nest, word of mouth is our best form of customer acquisition.

Nest New York is available in luxury retail stores, specialty stores and boutique stores nationwide. And when retail stores closed, we pivoted to focus on digital acceleration and our customers transitioned to finding us online. Our straightforward fragrance-naming strategy makes it easy to buy our products—so you know what you’re getting.

Our recent relationship with Ulta Beauty highlights our personal care collection, as well as our home products. Ulta brings in a new customer and with the rapid increase in personal care, there’s a big growth opportunity and we are interested in growing our personal care category with them.

Nest was one of the first brands to launch a niche fine fragrance collection at Sephora in 2013. The collection of eight eau de parfums was greeted with enormous success particularly because of Sephora’s strong commitment to this new and exciting segment of the fine fragrance category. And, it remains a top-ranking brand at Sephora. We will be launching a new, highly unique collection with Sephora in 2021 and we are super excited about that launch.

People have been turning to their Nest favorites to fragrance their homes during this time. The brand’s core fragrances have been popular over the last six months. We are seeing an increase in larger formats; our three-wick candles have experienced triple digit growth during the pandemic and we’ve seen a surge in liquid soap, diffusers and our newest addition, PURA, our smart home diffuser. Also popular with consumers is the brand’s new home fragrance—Apple Blossom. A portion of the proceeds of the Apple Blossom candle benefits Next for Autism.

As for the next several months, Nest New York CEO Maria Dempsey is developing a long-term plan for the brand to take the business to the next level—with innovation, digital acceleration, customer acquisition and retention as her top priorities.