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40 of Tomorrow: John and Clara Molloy

The duo have conceptualized several niche fragrance lines — Memo Paris, Floraïku, and most recently, Hermetica.

A natural curiosity guides the creative process for John and Clara Molloy, the husband-and-wife duo behind some of today’s most boundary-pushing fragrance brands — Memo Paris, Floraïku and Hermetica.

The pair funnel their distinct upbringings — Clara as a Parisian and John as an Irishman — into each project, crafting and sticking to a distinct viewpoint that informs each collection.

“We’re really curious about other cultures, curious about people, we think traveling is meeting people and meeting new habits and that was really what Memo was all about, this quest for difference, for cultures…meeting people in unexpected ways, being surprised,” Clara said.

At Memo, the fragrances are directly inspired by the couple’s travels, but when it came to Asia (the Molloy’s were particularly inspired by Japan) the cultural intricacies were so vast that the duo decided to launch a whole new brand, and Floraïku, a fragrance line sold in very limited distribution by way of an immersive tea ceremony, was born.

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That differentiated retail experience is something that flows through the couples’ fragrance brands. Memo just opened a shop-in-shop at Bergdorf Goodman in New York that mimics the design of its Paris flagship, while Hermetica is selling through both a Paris flagship and a boutique at Bloomingdale’s.

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For the Molloys, Hermetica, an alcohol-free concept, was simply an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

“It’s not that we want to develop more and more brands, but when very good ideas come out it’s difficult to resist,” Clara said. But for now, the focus is on growing existing brands — but thinking without limits — and being able to expand the business without losing the family-feel of the current working environment. The existing brands could potentially grow by 100 or 200 times, John said. “Maybe they can take on lots of other product categories in the future, as well,” he noted. These days, industry sources estimate the combined business does about $85 million in retail sales.

“We’re a luxury fragrance company,” said John. “We’re still a small family company, but we don’t consider this to be just a niche brand — we’ve got 30 people in our office, we’ve got a cfo, a chief operating officer, we’ve got a structure that is sustainable. We want to build a company that can last well beyond us, and took the initiatives to stay independent rather than to sell out.”