Husband-and-wife team Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter told how a rich tradition of craftsmanship, raw materials and storytelling led to the creation of Atelier Cologne in 2009.
Combining citruses with natural raw materials, they set out to create fragrances with lasting power. The couple met on a job interview eight years ago in New York, and French-born Cervasel was happy to discover that Ganter was not American, but French. Ganter told him about her dream to create a maison around cologne.
When one thinks about perfume, so many of the brands are owned by fashion designers, she said. Very few houses dedicate themselves to creating perfume. The duo creates colognes of 15 to 20 percent essential oils, as opposed to regular eau de cologne, which has less than 5 percent.
Storytelling became a key element. “What we see is our customer craves the real stories we’re telling them,” said Ganter. They want to hear how the founders were inspired and the reason behind the brand. Cervasel said they love to spend time in the stores, learning about their customers’ lifestyles, desires and personalities. “It gives us the energy to do the rest,” he said.
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Atelier Cologne, which has 500,000 customers, is distributed in 30 countries. Twenty-five percent of its customers have never worn a perfume before trying Atelier Cologne. At present, there are four stand-alone boutiques: NoLIta, N.Y., Brooklyn, N.Y., and two in Paris, and they plan to open more. All of them are profitable and give customers the full experience of the brand. With signature Venetian blue storefronts and raw brick walls, the boutiques are furnished with industrial worktables, lamps, stools and engraving machines, which allows customers to personalize the leather cases of their perfume bottles. Cervasel sees the Asian market as having huge potential for the perfumes as well.
The company expects to do $40 million in sales this year and looks to eventually generate more than $100 million.