Move at pace, but with caution — By that, what I really mean is always trust your instinct and your gut but make measured and well considered decisions. I know they sound almost the opposite, but if you move fast enough, you’ll see the progress coming faster and it’ll give you the courage to continue what you do because you’ll see the fruit of your labours.
As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Emmanuelle Moeglin, founder and in-house perfumer of Netil House based Experimental Perfume Club.
Emmanuelle is a professionally trained perfumer with fourteen years experience working with international perfume brands. She founded the Experimental Perfume Club in 2016 as an independent perfume house and open access laboratory specializing in niche and bespoke fragrances and olfactory workshops.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path
I essentially define myself through my work, which is my passion and my life. I am a trained perfumer and it’s what I have been doing for all of my working career. I have been fascinated by perfume since a very young age. I started collecting everything relating to perfume during my childhood in the 90’s from small bottles of perfume to vintage bottles I found at flea markets, to old perfume adverts. I was just fascinated by this world. My obsession and love for scent and ingredients came later when I started studying it and spent time understanding the intricasy of perfumery.
I started my journey at the prestigious ISIPCA in Versailles, where I learnt the science and secrets of fragrance creation. Post-graduation I travelled the world, collaborating with some of the most esteemed perfumers, working as a Scent Design Manager for brands such as L’Oreal and Puig in Paris, Barcelona and New York.
I decided to move to London seven years ago for personal reasons and as there is no fragrance development in London, I deviated into marketing, and more recently worked as a trend forecaster. But I was really missing the hands-on job of creating fragrances, and decided I wanted to bring education and the art and science of perfume to the public. I was finding increasingly the people I came across in my day to day life were fascinated that I was a perfumer. They would ask a million questions about perfume, and I started to realise that people knew very little about the science of it, but really love scent, so the idea was seeded that I should do something to educate people about perfume by running workshops and showing people that putting together a fragrance is hard, but possible.
Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Setting up your own business is one of the most rewarding, but the toughest thing you will ever have to do. When I started out it required full commitment, long hours and lots of energy for little financial reward. Even now three years on, the business still absorbs most of my waking hours, but I love it. I am passionate about what I do; you have to be otherwise it won’t work. That level of commitment has paid off as our perfume workshops are booked up months in advance and we’re now stocked in some of the world’s most famous stores such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Liberty with plans to branch out internationally next year.
I would also say coming from a corporate background it’s quite a significant shift to move to running your own business and only having yourself to rely on to make critical business decisions. It can feel lonely, so it’s important to make sure you find ways to build a support network around you. This could either be through a networking group or a mentor, or perhaps by considering where your business is based. I’m lucky as within six months of setting up EPC, we moved to Eat Work Art which is a creative work space provider. I’m surrounded here by like-minded independent businesses all in the same situation. It’s great as you have this sense the community really seems to look out for each other, which is especially important when you are just starting out.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I think I have a purpose and ‘a why’ to what I do. It started out with a passion and grew into a business. Money was never the true purpose and rationale for launching my business. I think that is what keeps me going. I’m lucky to also have a passionate team who also believe in the idea and my ability to drive the business forward. I think the ‘why’ and ‘who’ you do it with is what keeps a business going, because there will always be a million reasons why you could give up.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
In my opinion, it starts with clear vision and absolute faith in your concept, even when something goes wrong, and trust me, there will be a stage sometime in the infancy of running your business that you’ll experience some bumps in the road. Perseverance through challenges, and the ability to problem solve quickly are key for success. At the very beginning, every little challenge seems to be a mountain because you’ve never done it before, but you soon learn that what seemed a big problem yesterday was in fact just a little trial to overcome and you’ll probably face a bigger one the following day. If you learn to embrace these challenges and have fun with it, then you have the key to success.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
- Move at pace, but with caution — By that, what I really mean is always trust your instinct and your gut but make measured and well considered decisions. I know they sound almost the opposite, but if you move fast enough, you’ll see the progress coming faster and it’ll give you the courage to continue what you do because you’ll see the fruit of your labours.
- Be the Tortoise not the Hare — You must remind yourself to be steady and patient, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s something that took me ages to come to terms with because I’m pretty impatient by nature, but a brand takes time to build. In fact, you’d be lucky if you get anywhere within less than 3 to 5 years!
- Be your own cheerleader — Remember why you are doing what you do and be thankful for what you achieve. It’s so hard to look back when you are in the midst of a storm, but it is important to pause and acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments. It’s advice I need to heed more often myself as I am sometimes my own biggest critic but when I take a moment, pause and step back to really consider what I have achieved in three short years I appreciate I am incredibly lucky and proud of what I have created.
- Don’t be an island — Learn to delegate and share your vision with your staff so they feel like they are part of the mission too, because at the end of the day, you can’t do it all on your own. For me, EPC experienced its real first revolution when I hired my first staff member. All of a sudden, you are no longer the only person responsible for the success or failure. Someone who works with you, and not for you is your best ally and greatest business asset.
- Don’t be afraid of failure — Failure isn’t a word in my vocabulary as even when things don’t go to plan, I have absolute faith that I will succeed. If nothing else, the times when things don’t pan out as I expect I have learnt really critical business lessons for the future. Do not overthink an idea. For me trusting your gut is the most important thing to do in business. Whenever I had a little voice telling me I shouldn’t be doing something and I ended up doing it anyway, it always ended up as a disaster. So I have learnt quickly to listen to both my good and bad business angels and trust those instincts.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
They are a few people I’m grateful for and who have given me valuable advise along the way. One that comes to mind is my neighbour Jason Bruges. We don’t often get the chance to catch up, it’s usually a brief two-minute chat between meetings or clients but those few minutes are enough. Jason is much more senior than me, has been running his business for decades and is obviously extremely successfully. He has given me great business advice when I’ve had a challenge and am stuck. I have provided younger businesses I’ve had interactions with at Netil House with the same support.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The brand Layers by Experimental Perfume Club is quite pioneering in its category for a few reasons. Rather than driving scent through marketing, our starting point is 100% customer focussed. Our fragrances are designed and bespoke to the customer rather than trying to retro fit a commercial product to the end consumer.
Following an educational consultation with our perfume consultants where we really get an understanding of the scent our customer loves and what works for them, they can create their ideal perfume blend.
Where I really am passionate about making a difference though, is through our eco and sustainable action on packaging and how we produce our fragrances. Only a handful of fragrance brands offer refillable bottles, which if you think about it is absolutely crazy. Most customers will go back to the same fragrance again and again throughout their life, buying dozens of bottles while what they really use and love is ‘the juice’. Our customers can bring back their empty bottle and those that do, receive half the price off their next bottle of perfume. That’s because I am incredibly passionate about making a positive difference to the environment. I think more beauty brands should and could make a positive but simple shift like this to minimise the impact the industry has on the environment. I believe if we can show how achievable it is, the more people will be aware it is possible and hopefully it will drive a step change in the industry.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’ve recently launched our brand in Selfridges with an exclusive and totally unique Blending Lab and re-fillable counter. It’s been brilliantly received which shows to me that consumers see beyond the marketing and want and should demand so much more from the scent and perfumes they are sold.
I think the environmental issue is here to stay too and people are looking for more and more ways to make little changes in their lives that will reduce their environmental footprint, so I’m proud we offer a refillable service and one of the first to lead the charge. The more alternatives that are available the better for the end consumer.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Share your vision and knowledge, but always ask for their point of view and make them feel they are part of key decision making. Remember that without them, your company is not a company.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see more beauty brands embrace refillable packaging which does not use plastic cellowrap. We often don’t realise quite the scale of the useless packaging that is used when we buy beauty products because chances are that each of us is buying only a few ‘luxury products’ a few times a year. These are not necessarily high consumption commodities but when you start to add up and consider the amount of outer packaging used on every individual item being sold globally and the waste that is generating and putting into the system it is quite scary.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s the title of a book. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers. I recommend everyone should read it, trust me, it will change your life!
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Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.