Friday, November 15, 2013

Indie & Artisan Perfumers and Owners Speak: Mandy Aftel of Aftelier

Mandy Aftel granted me an interview on subjects which are usually never touched, such as business positioning & online only distribution, her unique place in the artisan universe as an all naturals perfumer, her experience with the luxury customers and how regional preferences shape (or rather do not shape) her output and the interest of the online aficionado/blogosphere. You can read the interview (and feel free to comment with your agreement/disagreement or questions) on this link on Fragrantica.

Here are two interesting quotes from Mandy to get you going.

About her distribution channels:
"I have chosen to now be only a web-based business; I previously also sold my perfumes in Henri Bendel’s and several small boutiques. I've been approached by almost every prestigious department store to sell my perfumes—when I turned down Neiman Marcus, their response was to ask me if I knew who they were? I personally like knowing that my customers are well taken care of and that everything is perfect about my products. When I sold in stores, I would see that the presentation of my perfumes was not up to my standards, which upset me. I take a lot of pleasure in individually wrapping each order and writing cards to people—I like having this relationship with my customer."

And about the price rises in the luxury & niche segment of the perfume business:
"As far as the industry justification for overpricing, that seems like a complete dodge at best! It reveals those perfume companies’ values—those are not my values and I don’t pay any attention to them. Yet there can actually be a blessing-in-disguise from high prices, since I like to encourage people to “buy less, better”—to have a meaningful connection with what they’ve bought and not be swayed by status concerns and marketing."

This interview comes as a follow-up of some issues we have discussed with Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes on this link, as well as a presentation of my views on the marketing side of perfume business, so if you missed those and the fascinating discussion that erupted in the comments, you might want to check them out to get things in context. Hopefully the series will continue with more artisans, indies and business insiders sharing their views with us.


  1. Miss Heliotrope06:01

    I like people selling their stuff online rather than in stores - while I can see it gives the producer more control (& more effort), for me it ensures access: here in Australia, our major departments stores (2 of them in most major cities) control so much of the luxury market, yet provide a limited number of items - what they think is sellable, or what their buyers think is sellable - or even once thought to be sellable & havent bothered revisting. So often we dont have - or have very limited - access to anything out of the way or entire ranges.

    & yet, these stores & others are complaining about the way we all shop online & overseas & are trying to get a tax put on all such purchases -

  2. annemariec09:58

    I'm in Australia too and agree entirely with Miss Heliotrope. (Miss H: have you noticed that Guerlain has lowered its prices at DJs? A Guerlain SA pretty much admitted to me that this is in response to competition online. Prices now are almost, but not quite, close to online prices.)

    It fascinates me that there are people out there who think nothing of spending $200 on a bottle of perfume. I mean, fine if that's just every now and again, but I'm guessing that there are plenty who do it all the time.

    I'm trying to remember the perfume that Turin said should come with a button that says 'sucker' every time it's spritzed ...

  3. MH,

    that's a very worthwhile point of view, because indeed it makes perfect sense. The online world has opened up possibilities that were previously unexplored. It provides access, which in itself means a bit less exclusivity (if we define luxury as such, then it opens up a new vista of a business model) but a lot more participation in the brand.

    Good going!

  4. AMC,

    very interesting observation, thank you!
    It stands to reason that offer and demand is a two way street and that someone had to understand that the Internet is the future.

    Turin had said that about Cruel Gardenia by Guerlain (because it smells like pink Camay and not gardenia, he didn't pay attention to the press release, I should gather, and is pricey) and I find his comment totally miscalculated, at least until pink Camay comes in a spritzable formula that lasts as long as Cruel Gardenia! It's a lovely perfume and if you like that sort of thing, your money isn't wasted.

  5. Morticia23:35

    Elena, loved the interview but I have to say that you could write a prescription for medicine and it would sound's just who you are and what you do.

  6. Morticia,

    that's it: I'm framing this comment on the wall for a rainy day. Thank you!


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