Interview no.1

PART 2: MEET PARFUMARIJA

… let’s talk business…

 

 

If you haven’t read the first part of the interview, then please check out my earlier post, PART 1: MEET MARIJA. So far, we’ve discussed Marija’s work as a perfumer, her inspiration and approach to perfumery. Part 2 of the interview gets down to the meat of Marija’s work, her exquisite niche perfume boutique, Parfumarija. If you haven’t checked it out, pop over to 25 Westbury Mall, Dublin 2 (Ireland). What I’d like to say as a foreword to this section of the interview is that, among all the stores I’ve been to, Marija doesn’t dwell on a commercial approach to selling fragrances. Although it is her business, she understands that perfume is more individual to a person than a singular moment spent sniffing a fragrance. Marija takes care with each customer and the result is an environment where you the customer can truly explore your own taste and preferences. So with that said, here is part two of the interview…

 

Part 2:

 

You’ve reached the one year mark for your store- congratulations! How have you found running a niche perfume boutique in Ireland, where there hasn’t been a strong market for it in the past?

You know  what? You know that happiness I was telling you about in the morning? It comes as well from the fact that I’m doing what I love. So, this has not been purely a business venture, it is really something that you hear a lot, and you can believe as well, that you should do what you love. And then when you do what you love, there is also calm. So I’m at the stage where I’m doing what I’m loving, and the results have been showing, they have been there. But the happiness in the morning is form going to something that I know I love. And there is no stress, there is no uneasiness, no coming back annoyed or anxious after work time- so this is really for me the most important part that I have achieved.

 

Are you the sole owner or do you have a partner in the boutique? Do they have a different vision?

Yes. So this shop is owned by me and my husband. I have to say that he 100% believes in me, especially since he doesn’t know anything about perfume. He didn’t know anything about perfume up until a few years ago. So I have complete creative freedom of the shop. He has something that I don’t have, and that is business experience, and dealings. So he is the wizard in the background- who does all of it to be possible with the ordering and dealing with contracts and lawyers. So I just really work with the creative part.

 

Are you both learning about the separate sides of the business?

Yeah. Even through my husband would have some idea about running a business he’s never done it with perfume; and we have certainly learnt a lot- it’s been a beautiful learning curve.

 

In comparison to the better known stores such as Brown Thomas and Arnotts, how would you make a customer consider buying niche perfumes from your store?

Well I tell them the truth. The truth is these brands are small and niche, distribution is limited. And where big brands could invest a lot in advertising campaigns and make it sound like this is good stuff because they have a famous face holding a bottle, small brands don’t have that, but they put all their efforts into the ingredients, and they put all their effort into making it something […] almost intellectual. Its not just a perfume, the bottles also look nice. So […] the distribution because its small its not like with a big brand where they have a beautiful distribution muscle that works out perfectly. But if it’s a small brand, they cost bigger. So, again, there’s a few things like that. But again, the quality of the perfume, I strongly agree is, is higher. And this is what I say to people.

 

Parfumarija- photograph from www.parfumarija.com/

 

 

 

 

In comparison to speaking to a sales assistant who know a lot about the mechanics of the perfumes they’re selling, how do customers act when speaking to yourself, a trained perfumer?

You know, in fact I don’t always talk about the ingredients. Because for me any good sales person hides behind knowledge of knowing the ingredients […] When you actually talk about the perfume it should be about the emotion, and how it’s going to make you feel. And so this comes from profound knowledge of the perfumes, and having worn them, and knowing their behaviour, knowing their lastingness, knowing their weaknesses and their strengths. And above all, being completely honest with your customer- what your experience with this perfume has been? And sometimes what you find a weakness, for somebody might be the greatest gift, is this perfume […] … Yes it’s nice to have a perfumer, but somebody who loves perfume and who is really dedicated into showing you perfume is what makes the greatest difference. I also have Freddie in the shop who is not a perfumer, but he will do just as good a job as any perfumer, because he is the same person as somebody who loves perfume. So this is the thing[…] and being honest with the customer. I actually had a customer who I told her No, this one is sour on you, let’s try something else.’ And [err] all I have heard from big department stores is, ‘that’s gorgeous on you!’ ‘that’s really beautiful on you!’ ‘Kim Kardashian wears it!’

[…] I try to create a scene of what this perfume smells to me like, the emotions that it evokes. So when you’re talking about niche perfume, this is what makes a whole lot of difference.

 

Would you want to keep the perfumes in your store to a very niche level?

I think that this is a moment of truth that er as a perfumer, perfumer shop holder you have to experience at some point […] For me the true test is, can you find it at the airport? If you can find it at the airport, for me, it loses its specialness, it loses its luxury part, because we know at the airport how perfumes are bought, and we are guilty of, yes as gifts in a five minute gap, and you just smell it quickly. So this for me is, when I see one of the brands I have at the airport when I say, thank you and goodbye.

 

How can you read someone when they enter your store?

So I have in my shop, I have, currently two types of customers. I have the type who don’t know anything about the brands. They actually think I have made all the perfumes myself. So for this kind of a customer, we’re pioneers in what we have to do. We have to go step by step, and spoon by spoon feed them to give them the information they require. I also have customers who know a lot about the  perfumes that we have, and are over the moon that there is a shop like that [that] opened in Dublin where all these perfumes and smells that maybe before could only be read online. Now they can come and smell them. Especially now with the EU regulations which – not all countries – but most countries in Europe you can’t buy online perfumes, because it has a lot of alcohol which is considered explosive. In fact, I can’t send perfume outside of Ireland, because of this. So it has become this kind of exchange of perfumes and purchasing perfumes has become more difficult, so, having a shop in Dublin which has these perfumes for somebody who is just curious to smell them, makes them very happy. So I have this kind of customer who is very appreciative.

 

Are your customers usually women or men? What kind of fragrances to they initially go for before you open their horizons?

Well, it’s mostly women. I would say a good 85% women, but men […] it’s not insignificant the amount of men we get. People here in Ireland have usually- there are three perfumes, three brands that I usually hear a lot about: I hear about Jo Malone, I hear about Coco Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle, and then I hear about Tom Ford perfumes. [I mention I am guilty of having Coco Mademoiselle, and Marija remarks it’s a phase we all have to go through, incidentally she has the highest opinion of Chanel perfumes]… And so how to explain to these people why should they buy from a brand they’ve never heard of, that possibly has a higher price than the brands they have been buying already, so this is where you have to do it step by step.

 

About large commercial launches: what would you say to anyone interested in getting into the perfume world? What would be the pinch of salt that you would give them?

The pinch of salt is that this is where your money is going into: the ads, and what you would get into the bottle is not what you’re paying for. What you’re paying for is the ad, where all the magazines you will see it. The formula itself is not so amazing, because these things are more important. It is in fact the bottle, the face. They get more money than the perfumer who has made the perfume. So, I think as well there comes a part – I think everybody has to go through the part of believing the girl with the hair blowing and the tulle- but once you smell niche perfumes I deeply believe something changes to you. It makes a difference, and once, you can’t go back. It’s like you’re searching for this purity, and once you go you can’t go back.

Parfumarija- photograph from www.parfumarija.com

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Store Overview:

Aside from the collection of niche perfumes, Marija Aslimoska offers a bespoke perfume service.

Below is a full list of all the perfumes sold in store- simply click on each brand to be directed to the Parfumarija website and fully explore each collection:

Agonist,  Amouage,  Arquiste,  Carner Barcelona

 Eight & Bob,  Escentric Molecules,  Etat Libre d’Orange

Frederic Malle,  Heeley Parfums,  Histories de Parfums

Illuminum,   J.F. Schwarzlose,  Jul et Mad,  Nu-Be

 Olfactive Studio,  Parfums MDCI,  The Different Company

 Viktoria Minya,  Ys-Uzac

Store details:

Location: 25 Westbury Mall, Dublin 2
Opening hours: Monday-Wednesday 10am-6pm, Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Closed on Sundays.
Telephone: (+353)671 0255
website: www.parfumarija.com
 


Interior Design Group:

 21 Spaces: Interior Architecture & Design

Location: 44 Leeson Street Lower, Dublin

Telephone: (+353) 01 442 9312

website: www.21spaces.com

 ♣

To MARIJA-

I would like to sincerely thank Marija Aslimoska for taking part in what will hopefully be a long and successful catalogue: The Interview Series.

Though a fair chunk of the interview was edited out given how long we chatted for, I really appreciated the time and anecdotes you shared with me-Thank you!

-HJ