The Success Behind Quintessentially Perfume: The Book
Nathalie Grainger, Co-Writer and Perfume Consultant (although during my interview with her, she proclaims she doesn't actually have a title, but you will see why Ms. Grainger said this.) is the driving force behind the creation of Quintessentially Perfume and the worldwide success that it has become.
Hello Nathalie and thank you so much for this great opportunity to speak with you about your new book, Quintessentially Perfume. I would like to introduce you to the readers by asking What is your title at Quintessentially Publishing Ltd in London, England?
I don’t really have a title as such (haha) although I do have quite a lot of work that revolves around any number of things. Mainly though I have been responsible for Communications, sales and marketing for Quintessentially Publishing.
When did you become involved with Quintessentially Publishing?
I was commissioned to compile and project manage Quintessentially perfume in April 2009. Before that I was working as a perfume consultant starting at Senteurs d’Ailleurs in Brussels ( grew up and lived in Brussels most of my life) , quite possibly the most beautiful and wonderful staffed perfume boutique I have ever known.
Nathalie, what do you do on a day to day basis?
At the moment, as I am still assisting Quintessentially Publishing with follow up work for Quintessentially Perfume, my main role is to take care of distribution for the book worldwide. In other words I have placed the book in different specialized books stores and perfumeries; it is also now doing really well in exclusive department stores to my delight and is used as a training tool for perfume companies with their training staff. I have also been establishing channels of distribution for Quintessentially Perfume to all of Quintessentially’s Elite members- the likes of which include some of the world’s leading artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and royal families. It’s fair to say that the book has fallen into the hands of some luminary characters- great news for the independent perfume brands featured within the book.
On a day to day basis, I also make sure that all other books in the Quintessentially Publishing portfolio can now achieve the same success as Quintessentially Perfume in terms of retail income, through strategic placement.
As a young girl, you indicated in the book that you were fascinated with perfume. What in particular fascinated you about perfume?
I suppose it was the romantic association with holidays with my parents and the feeling of comfort that my first memories of scent brought me. My first experience of perfume was a 6 year old in the depths of luscious Cornwall in south west England. I bought a little bottle of violet water with my pocket money. It was fluorescent green for Goodness’s Sakes! But to me it smelled divine and that was the beginning of my fascination with perfume and scents. At the time I was not happy at school so holidays were precious to me.
What were some of your favorite perfumes while growing up?
Oooh now then, my beloved gran wore Mitsouko which was delicious to me and still to this day makes me think of her and my mum too. It was just so mysterious! I couldn’t believe how something so spicy could smell so soft at the same time. It sank into her very skin.
I loved very grow- up perfumes- Opium, Rive Gauche, Magie Noire, all the scents worn by adults I admired.
Nathalie, was it always a desire for you to write or publish a book about perfumes?
Funnily enough, it had not even occurred to me at the stage I was approached….though I have often written and used words in my professional life, either interpreting and translating websites for perfume boutiques from French to English. I suppose that was such a satisfying thing for me to do because I could just escape into my own world really and that absorbing activity was reflected in the way I have always worked with perfume and people. I have to totally throw myself into things if I am passionate which is why every little detail matters and hurts if it’s not right for whatever reason.
Congratulations! Nathalie on helping produce such a beautiful book that is full of information on the perfumers, the perfume houses and the gorgeous perfume creations that are known to the world. Quintessentially Perfume covers so much information and it even includes a glossary of frequent words used in the world of perfumery! Nathalie, did the book turn out the way you wanted or while gathering information and doing research, did you have to take a different turn then what you originally may have wanted?
Hmm very good question Felicia. In fact, the book turned out completely differently but for the better I must say.
My original brief was to collate and compile a series of perfume brands as a kind of glossy hard back catalogue. Nothing more, Nothing less, to attract the interest of Quintessentially’s worldwide member base.
However as time went on, it became clear to me as I slogged away trying to get perfume brands to agree to pay to feature ( usually they have no budget and/or don’t advertise) that it was not going to work. It was at this stage that I decided to bring in extra points of interests such as articles from experts, interviews and a more varied base of perfume brands.
As it all started to come together I then saw that it was going to be a lovely celebration of perfume and the brands out there without any snobbery and with something to interest everyone- from amateur or novice, to perfume aficionado. It was also better than I thought in the sense that I had to cater to many non-English readers and I was conscious of not slipping into simplified language for that reason. I don’t think there is anything patronizing thankfully in the content. No one should feel intimidated or bored reading it, if they have a slight interest in perfume.
Who did you talk to about the idea of writing a perfume book at Quintessentially Publishing? How was the idea received?
I was commissioned by Quintessentially Publishing to head up the project on my own as they didn’t have anyone within their own workforce with the experience or knowledge or contacts. There was however a colleague of mine at the time who had a friendship with Roja Dove. They were a very good starting point for sounding out ideas.
How did you approach the perfumers about working with you on Quintessentially Perfume and was it an easy or difficult task? Well it was the good old-fashioned approach of phoning them up and then emailing and then chasing them up afterwards. It was in turn lonely, scary, interesting and daunting although there were some people who I had already dealt with previously. It was tough. It was tough getting people to make that leap of faith and decide to invest their brand into the book. They had to just go with their gut instinct at first and then after face to face meetings and as pages started to be designed I then could show them the look of the book.
Nathalie, what is your biggest accomplishment about Quintessentially Perfume that make you the most proud?
Quite simply getting the book done. Never would I have imagined that I could have done something like this and that it would turn out looking as nice as it does and, more importantly, give the perfume brands such a good boost. I am proud of being able to promote some personal favourites in there like, Serge Lutens, Guerlain, Annick Goutal and Aqaba. What has been very worthy of pride is the effect on sales of perfumes featured. It’s great to see these brands being stocked in more stores as a result of the book. That’s what it’s all about for these creators. It’s word of mouth and bread and butter stuff.
What perfumer(s) did you find most intriguing during your interview and why?
I was spoiled for choice but for the element of surprise- Geza Schoen and Isabelle Doyen- without a shadow of a doubt. Geza is rebellious, interested and supremely talented. Plus we got on really well. I could imagine having a few drinks with him and putting the (fragrance) world to rights. There is nothing superior or pretentious about him which is just how it should be when you’re talking about something as fundamentally instinctive as the olfactory sense. Isabelle Doyen was disarmingly friendly and made me feel like a friend for the brief time I spent with her in Paris. Her creations make me shudder with envy.
Will there be more Quintessentially Perfume books in the near future? How will you continue to expand the fragrance component of Quintessentially Publishing?
Ah maybe, we will see how this book fares. By the looks of it there will be another book of some sort but in the meantime I will revert back to my previous career path which is perfume and would love, love, love to be a consultant running workshops training people to sell perfume. I’d love to be a perfume whisperer! J
Lastly, Nathalie How is Quintessentially Publishing Ltd different from other publishing companies in the UK and the USA? What unique quality stands out best about Quintessentially Publishing Ltd.
Well we are only a tiny little company and have to keep ourselves ticking over from day to day and yet we cater to the most exclusive and luxurious clients so I guess that is quite a paradox. I would like to open up the options so that we can start looking at other aspects of publishing that incorporate digital applications.
Nathalie this has been a complete honor for me. Thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts with me. I wish you continued success and I look forward to hearing more about Quintessentially Publishing Ltd
Felicia- you actually have no idea how honoured I am to have you even interested in this project with all the things that come along every day.
Thank you so much, I hope that I get to meet you one day. If anyone out there wants a training manager or needs a consultant, let me know!
Editors Note: Quintessentially Perfume is an absolutelywonderful hardcover book. It is truly a book that all Perfumistas should have for reference and as a beautiful addition to your home decor.
My sincere thank you to Ms. Grainger and all the staff at Quintessentially Publishing, Ltd for their kindness in giving me this luxurious book that will be forever cherished.
Felicia M. Hazzard
Purchase: http://www.quintessentiallypublishing.com/ (UK)
Contact info: Nathalie@quintessentiallypublishing.com
Photo Credits: Photo of Ms. Nathalie Grainger courtesy of Quintessentially Publishing and Photo taken by Paul Raeside
I agree with you and there is something fascinating about history no matter what, so throw perfume into the pot and it must become compelling.
Photos of you