Nest Fragrances is building its fine fragrance business scent by scent.
The latest eau de parfum is Black Tulip, which will be launched exclusively at Sephora on Feb. 6. Described as a “modern chypre” by founder Laura Slatkin, the fragrance was developed by Jérôme Epinette, the Robertet perfumer.
“It started with a very sensual jasmine, one of the most beautiful jasmine accords I’ve ever smelled,” said Slatkin. “The result was a really spectacular chypre fragrance that’s very wearable.”
Slatkin started Nest in 2005 as a candle company, and grew the brand to incorporate fine fragrance in 2013. She spearheads development, conceiving the inspiration for each fragrance — fine and home — that Nest releases, scouring books of 18th-century art and modern photography for reference.
Black Tulip is a blend of night-blooming Indonesian jasmine, Japanese violet, cherries, black amber plum, pink peppercorns and patchouli. It started with a photograph Slatkin found of a black parrot tulip, and evolved after trips to both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Black Sea.
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“I saw this dress at the Met by the late Alexander McQueen and I thought it was so stunningly beautiful,” said Slatkin, referring to a gown festooned with floral embellishments. “And around the same time we went to the Black Sea and were eating these cherries and plums, and it just all came together.”
As a niche brand, Nest has put in the extra effort to stand out at Sephora, aiming to catch the attention of store associates — known as cast members — with mood boards, themed trend boxes and other interactive ploys like scented tattoo stickers.
“We really work to make a connection with the cast, ” said Nancy McKay, chief executive officer of Nest. “Laura’s authenticity — she shows them her inspiration, the books she’s reading — that helps.”
Black Tulip is priced at $72 for a 1.7-o.z. spray bottle and $25 for a rollerball.
Nest declined to give specific figures, but said the company did high-double-digit growth last year and expected the same for this year. An industry source projected the fine fragrance side of the business will reach $8 million by the end of the year, and estimated it is growing at double the rate of the candle business.
In the home fragrance arena, Nest continues to churn out newness. The launch for the first half of the year is a liquid-less diffuser, which instead of utilizing wooden reed sticks dipped in liquid to scent a room, uses scented sticks. The sticks are made with a proprietary technology and custom-made of paper infused with fragrance oil. “Home fragrance is the catalyst in the fragrance category right now,” said McKay, who noted the product was developed to give consumers more options to scent their home. “Some people don’t want to burn anything or want the liquid around — they have pets or kids.”
The Liquidless Diffuser will be launched in May and is available in three of Nest’s classic scents — Bamboo, Grapefruit and Moroccan Amber. It retails for $60, which includes five scented sticks — any number of the sticks can be placed in the diffuser vessel at a time, allowing for consumers to customize the diffusion level. Refills of the sticks will be launched this summer, priced at $34 for a pack of five. An industry source estimated the diffuser could do $1 million in U.S. retail sales in a year, via distribution at Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Blue Mercury, Saks Fifth Avenue and nestfragrances.com.
Also on deck are two home scents for spring — White Camellia and Tarragon & Ivy. The White Camellia collection includes a limited-edition three-wick candle in a ceramic pink marbleized ceramic vessel.
Nest is rumored to come to market this year, but the company declined to comment on any industry rumblings. Tengram Capital currently owns a majority stake in the brand, which offers consumers something of an affordable luxury. At $40 per candle, it’s not necessarily cheap, but it’s no Diptyque either, which charges $62 for a similarly-sized candle. And Slatkin’s elaborate origin stories give each fragrance its own special meaning and weight.
“The quality is there and the price point is attractive — that’s our positioning,” said Slatkin.