What inspired you to start AN Other?
As I was watching the prices of beauty products change over the years, I realized that while some markets were being shaken and changed, the perfume market was basically immobile. The established perfume houses are constantly introducing new perfumes, there were always niche and indie brands, but not one of these players was actually changing the rules of the game. They all seem to be following the same playbook that was written many years ago.
A while back my husband showed me Barbara Thau’s article “Behind the spritz: what really goes into a bottle of $100 perfume”. As with many other consumer goods, significantly more money is spent on marketing and overhead than is invested in the product itself. It is one of the products where there's an enormous disparity between the cost of the product and the cost to the consumer.
Add to that the fact that there has been no significant change in the way perfumes are marketed – they rely heavily on celebrity campaigns and endorsements, scantily clad models and yachts, and departments stores that display hundreds of fragrances at a time, completely overwhelming the customer. As we started learning the industry, we were also disappointed to learn that the “noses” behind the perfumes, the artists that create the scents, are rarely given credit for their work.
We thought we could do better than the existing model – by offering the consumer a better product at a lower price point. Our Parfum grade perfumes are made using the very best, eco-sustainable, responsibly sourced, non-toxic, dye-free ingredients. Our perfumers are at the front of the brand. They were given unrestrained creative freedom and they delivered 4 unique gender-neutral fragrances that are offered to the consumer at a fraction of the cost of similar perfumes. For a change, the perfumers are also recognized for their talent and given all the credit. This brand defies the notion that a product should be inaccessible to be luxurious and says high end Parfum grade fragrances can be within reach.
What is your favorite product out of the range that you carry and why?
Surprisingly, I wear all 4 fragrances. I find that surprising, because the perfumes are so different from each other as each represents one of the four main olfactory groups – Fresh, Oriental, Woddy and Floral. For years, I wore the same perfume regularly and felt like I had a signature scent. Now I am much more open to mixing things up and wearing more than one fragrance. Our collection is truly gender neutral, so even though I never had a problem wearing men’s fragrances, it’s nice not to have the gender conversation.
If I had to, I would say that I wear FL/18 (by Nathalie Benareau) more often than the others, because I love the way it wears on me – floral yet not too sweet, with a beautiful long-lasting kick of leather.
What was the first product you made? What’s next for you? Do you have any new products in the pipeline?
This is our debut collection.
We are currently growing the brand. We launched a few months ago, and we are growing our base and our sales mainly through word of mouth. We do not want to make our customers pay for glossy magazine advertisements but would rather put the money in the product itself. In addition. we are working on some new products and items that we plan to launch next year, that will follow in the footsteps of this collection.
What would you advise to anyone who would want to start a new venture that leads to success?
For me, launching A. N. OTHER was an opportunity to start something that will be guided by my value system. I find that if you see it way, it makes it easier to deal with the stress of starting a new business. I can’t emphasize how important it is to build a good team. When you find good people to work with, you find a way to stick together and maintain the relationship. When something goes wrong you don’t start by pointing fingers but focus on finding a solution. You can pivot on the execution, but you should stay true to the values.
We focused on simplicity. It is very difficult to design and create something that does not require extensive descriptions and explanations, and we struggled to bring our products and our website to market in as simple a form as possible. We are not playing according to the rulebook, so we were able to simplify the whole process by laying some ground rules – creative freedom, sustainability, uncompromising quality and providing our consumers with a great experience.
Tell us something we don’t know yet about you!
It is common practice in the perfume industry to have numerous iterations of a perfume before it is brought to market. Some brands will use focus groups, evaluators and other experts to choose between the different iterations or will ask the perfumer for more iterations till they find the right one. I didn’t think this process was right for us – how would a focus group evaluate a perfume better than a perfumer with years of experience? I decided to simplify the process and told the perfumers there would be no iterations. We produced the submissions as is.