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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » June 3, 2015
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Fragrance That Feels Like a Ferrari
June 3, 2015   
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Jan Ewoud Vos, founder and creative director of Netherlands-based luxury perfume house Puredistance, recently came to Warsaw’s Perfumeria Quality Missala store to launch his newest scent. He spoke to the Voice’s Marzena Robinson.

Puredistance is known for its unique way of working on a new fragrance. You are an artist, a photographer and a designer, but you are not a perfumer yourself. What does the process of creating a new fragrance look like?
I work with the most renowned master perfumers worldwide. First, for half a year I work on a concept, so the concept is in my blood. Then I communicate my concept to a perfumer visually, through text and sometimes music, and ask him to make something that matches my concept in terms of feeling. He gives me four or five starting ideas and I select one that could be the base. Then I give him more visual or audio feedback. For example, I tell him to put more red in it or that I want to hear a violin. So he comes up with four new versions based on my feedback. I only guide him in the right direction and give him carte blanche as to the ingredients. I never talk about ingredients; I don’t want to know. He can spend as much as he wants on the ingredients as I want to put as much money into the perfect product as needed.

There is no budget and there is no time limit. So the perfumer has complete artistic freedom. And I can do what I’m best at and what I love to do—the design; I do the packaging, the visuals and the brand names.

Are your perfumes created more for women or men?
All our fragrances are unisex. We are very liberal in the Netherlands. We don’t put people in a box, so we never put labels “for men” or “for women” on our fragrances.

Your motto is “Small is beautiful.” What do you mean by that?
I wanted my company to be small so I could better focus on the products and speak to my people. We do everything by hand, all in one place. We don’t outsource things we can do ourselves.

I really believe that if you and all the people in the company spend a lot of time putting your heart into the product then the design will be more beautiful than if you do it quickly and your focus is on making money. So we work almost like artists, even the girls who assemble the perfumes and gift boxes. I tell them: take your time, take a look at it, take pride in it, have the customer in mind when you do it. It takes ages but we try to create a piece of art and create it with passion.

Our dealer network is small. We sell in 30 countries. This seems impressive, but only 70 stores worldwide are authorized to sell Puredistance. That means I know all my dealers personally and really connect to them. And then, with a limited number of customers, when we get feedback, we can do something with it. It makes the whole operation overseeable. We promise high quality and I don’t think you can do this with mass-produced things.

Probably I was blessed that I didn’t know anything about perfumery, anything about perfumes, when I was starting the business. So I probably took very different steps than if you know a lot about perfumes. Many things happened in our company by fate, by pure luck and coincidence.

This is my third business and in the first two I tried to control things. Now I trust things will happen, I have the patience to wait, and then things will find me, and if they don’t find me it shouldn’t be that way. It’s a much more relaxed way of doing business; it’s more organic.

What kind of customer do you think your perfumes appeal to most?
I think the customer will feel subconsciously all the love and energy that went into the production. It’s like with a Ferrari. The customer stepping into an Aston Martin or Ferrari feels the craftsmanship, the love, the passion that went into it, can imagine the women that stitch the leather. And Japanese cars are fantastic, but I don’t feel any emotion when I step into one.

One category of customer we have is the “perfume junkie.” This is someone who is in love with special perfumes and knows everything about them. Perfume junkies are more focused on the fragrance than on the packaging. They love the complexity of Puredistance, the fact that this is pure perfume extract, with the highest concentration of perfume oil. For them Puredistance is often the Holy Grail. These people are not necessarily rich, but, as I know from our customers’ feedback, they save money to buy Puredistance, and that touches me.

Then there is the category of people who have both money and sophisticated taste. They do not necessarily want to buy the logo, or impress their neighbors. They want to buy something they perceive as beautiful. So I think an affluent customer who is sophisticated is our main customer.

So you don’t mind someone wearing a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and putting on exclusive perfume such as yours?
It’s all about the inside. I’d rather have someone in a pair of jeans who sincerely appreciates our brand and understands the DNA and enjoys the product intrinsically, than someone who wears Dior and drives a Rolls Royce and only buys our brand because someone says it’s expensive.
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