BERLIN — Danielle Ryan is on a roll. The Irish businesswoman was in the German capital Wednesday introducing her new fragrance line Roads at Galeries Lafayette Berlin with the aid of a white and silver truck that functions as an on-the-go center highlighting the 10 scents.
Fragrances are just one part of the Roads creative venture, which includes a publishing arm and a film production division. It’s the first foray into scent for the 30-year-old, whose grandfather founded budget airline Ryanair.
“I come from a very entrepreneurial background, so I never get worried about giving something a try,” she said. “And I don’t get too worried about the idea that something could fail.”
In the case of Roads fragrances, that seems unlikely — the fledgling brand has strong support from Intertrade Europe chief executive officer Celso Fadelli, who worked closely with Ryan to develop the line.
“It’s a very democratic brand, it’s easy to understand,” said Fadelli, who was in Berlin for the launch. “It’s clever, intellectual, and at the moment is what the market is probably looking for.”
Fadelli said the scents have already made a splash, selling on average 12 to 15 units per day, per sales location, and performing beyond expectations. The scents began rolling out this spring after being previewed at Pitti Fragranza last year.
Ryan’s path to perfume was an unusual one. While setting up the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art in Dublin, the classically trained actress became interested in how scents and fragrances were being used in immersive theater to enhance the audience’s experience.
“For me, it was another angle of storytelling that I actually really liked, this medium of art, this play within,” she told WWD. Not expecting anything to come of her new interest, she just kept following paths, learning about perfumery, meeting perfumers, then forging an alliance with Fadelli and Intertrade, culminating in the creation of the 10 fragrances currently in the Roads line, in about two years. Each of the scents is inspired by a story, according to Ryan. They boast names including “This Weekend,” “Graduate 1954,” “Harmattan” and “Bitter End.”
Ryan said her team was already at work on the next round of scents for next year, which are inspired by aspects of modern Africa, such as its dances and writers. One in particular takes a speech of Nobel Prize Laureate Wole Soyinka as an unexpected launch point.
“Which is hard to do for a fragrance,” she conceded. “But actually we said ‘use a lot of trees,’ for the idea of strength, and there are a lot of herbs there that are quite fragrant, but are indestructible, so they spread really quickly.”
Roads fragrances are available in numerous global department stores and perfumeries including U.S. Barneys New York locations, Brown Thomas in Ireland, Selfridges in the U.K., Avery Perfume Gallery in Italy and Jovoy Paris. Roads’ next stop will be Moscow. The 50-ml. eau de parfum is priced at 98 euros, 98 pounds, and $155.
Ryan’s Roads Entertainment has seven films in preproduction, which are slated to be shown in winter 2015 at the Sundance, Cannes and Berlin film festivals; her publishing company will release several books in September. What’s next for Ryan is anyone’s guess, but it will probably succeed as long as she has creative room to roam.
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