Maison 21 G revolutionises perfume-buying experience

The perfume industry in Asia is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.15% as per Mordor Intelligence report. There are umpteen number of perfume brands available in the market but somehow it seems difficult to satiate the senses of perfume aficionados.

Well, who would understand it better than Johanna Monange, a veteran, a nose with 20-plus years of experience in the perfume industry.

Inside Recent (IR) visited a start-up perfumery in Singapore called Maison 21G which seems to be unstoppable.

The perfumery has 33-plus combinations of essence to choose from and around 1,000 combinations can be curated
right in front of your eyes with a help of an AI technology. It is called “La Source”, which is like a Nespresso machine and is a patented technology to create perfumes on the go.

From selecting the perfume to getting it packed and branded as per the customer’s choice would be an affair of less than an hour.

Maison 21G opened the flagship store at Duxton Road and now has many more on the island.

Very soon to be launched partnership with Sephora Southeast Asia will take this perfumery to new heights.

Some of the markets that people could enjoy the bespoke perfume range and experience the making of their favourite perfume in-store would be Bangkok, Hong Kong, China and South Korea.

Online sales have seen a steady demand during this year as people choose to order their favourite perfume online.

In an exclusive tete-e-tete with IR, Johanna shares some nuggets on her journey of creating her own perfume brand and taking it to global markets.

IR:  There are many perfume brands in the market, what is the differentiator for Maison?

JM:  Our key differentiator is the ability to personalise one’s perfume based on personality, ingredient, mood or occasion. Our concept is unique in that we offer an AI-guided personality quiz to determine someone’s scent personality and guide them in creating their own perfume.

The customer can choose from currently 34 essences to blend their perfume creation and also fully personalise the bottle label. On top of the customisation aspect, we also offer the highest percentage of perfume concentrate in the industry 21%.

We source the essences directly from the supplier thus cutting out all intermediaries which makes it a  higher quality essence with fair price.

IR: Post pandemic many business have shut, but it seems Maison has launched many more stores in Singapore. Can you highlight the success story behind the expansion plan?

JM: I always try to see a crisis as an opportunity. Ultimately you don’t have a choice but to adapt and make the most out of any situation that you are facing. COVID-19 in Singapore has brought a real focus on our e-commerce business and we have managed to crack the concept of “Buying-perfume-Online” and saw our online purchases soar, which helped us to
keep going.

We are transparent on our formulas, and consumers have time to do more research on the products they are buying. I am therefore confident that this has been a great opportunity for us to adjust our business model and really prove our concept to the world.

In addition, we have been approached by lucrative retail spaces in Singapore to open our concept at their stores to attract customers to their spaces with our unique concept and a reach out to genuinely unique customer experience. Consumers are aware and are looking for an experience, a safe and authentic product which they can connect emotionally.

We are humbled and flattered by this interest, as it shows us that our work of promoting transparency, sustainability and education is paying off.

Again, we took the opportunity to launch at ION Orchard and BHG Bugis Junction to offer the experience of  perfume customisation to more people around on the island. We are pleased with the response on how the reception has been so far and cannot wait to open more outlets in Singapore and other countries.

We are booked everyday with our creation workshops at our outlets. It is a real pleasure for us to share our passion for perfume creation with so many people from different backgrounds and we can see how much they enjoy the exchange.

IR: Are you looking at having a store at any other locations apart from Singapore?

JW: Yes, we are working with various partners to expand internationally. We are launching a partnership with Sephora Southeast Asia which will initially focus on Bangkok and Hong Kong but will be rolled out in  four further markets in the first half of 2021.

In addition, we are looking to launch our concept in China and Korea with physical stores but are also looking at expanding our online deliveries to other countries worldwide such as France and the USA.

IR-: You have a perfume making class for all ages, are you planning to launch an academy for the same?

JW:  This is something we are currently looking at as we are keen to bring all tips and tricks of understanding the perfume and are looking to launch a professional academy soon. Having gone through the training of becoming a nose myself, I love to train all kinds of passionate people on scent design. Sharing is beautiful.

IR: What are the new product range that you are launching as we enter the festive season?

JW-: We have recently launched our Scent Discovery Set which will be the perfect Christmas present for those who would love to share an experience of perfume creation. It could be a nice educational game for the whole family where parents and kids can discover together 34 iconic natural scents. We are losing our sense of smell and I believe it is my duty to transmit my knowledge in perfumery and to train a lot of “little” noses!

We have recently launched our bespoke dual candle over which promises to encapsulate peoples senses. This new concept focuses on the duality of scents which is at the core of our perfume creations too. With Maison 21G, you are now able to tailor-make the scent for your home.

Two halfmoon-shaped candles with individual scents chosen by the customer are being placed together to create an unique scent blend in the air. It is a revolutionary concept that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world and we are excited to see the responses as we believe these dual candles will be amazing unique Christmas presents too.

IR: Are you planning to launch pet perfumes as it seems there are not many known players in this segment?

JW: For us a perfume is the extension of the soul. For many people an animal is also a part of their soul, as they are part of their family and a close confidante. While this is currently not something we have considered, we are always open to explore new products, new opportunities and push the boundaries of creativity as a start-up. Pet perfumes could be
very personalised, though we would probably have to base them on the personality of the owners, rather than the pets themselves.

IR:  Which perfume is the fastest selling of Maison knowing the hot weather of Singapore? Are your perfumes of therapeutic nature?

JW: The climate is an important factor in the choice of your perfume. In a hot, humid country like Singapore you want to feel fresh and protected, in a cold country you would be looking for a more comforting and warm scent. Light and fresh notes such as Frangipani, Muguet, Mimosa, Orange Blossom, Citrus (lime and bergamot) or sage are most suitable for this climate.

Some of our bestseller solo scents are Sage and Ocean, so two exceptionally light and fresh scents. Mimosa, Muguet, Rhubarb (which was most unexpected because rhubarb is a very European food) and Cannabis are the most favourite scents of Singaporean women.

All our perfume essences have benefits for the mind, body and soul as we have a high content of natural ingredients. This was also an important factor when I created my exclusive collection with the most famous French noses in the World. Many of our scents are also used in aromatherapy.

IR: You have been a nose for almost 20 years, would you like to share some tips with the millennials?

JW: In terms of career, I would recommend anyone to persevere and not let go of their dream. If they believe that an idea works and something is right, then they should pursue their passion and follow their dreams.

I have been pushed by my parents when I was younger to work hard and face challenges. In terms of scent design, I want to encourage all to express themselves fully through scents. We are unique, so our perfume should be too.

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