The Beauty Business | Martine Micallef – Founder of M. Micallef Parfums

My fascination with all things olfactory goes beyond the delights of the nose, it’s an experience. Sweet smelling notes cased in a beautifully designed bottle will always be my weakness, and M.Micallef Parfums is the epitome of it all. In a world where mass fragrance has a firm grip on the market, M.Micallef Parfums takes fragrance back to the days where it was an art to be appreciated with carefully handcrafted, gold and crystal studded  bottles filled with exquisite scent.

Founded by Martine Micallef and her husband Geoffrey Nejman, I recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to the lady behind one of my favourite fragrances, Mon Parfum Cristal, a delicious gourmand blend of Bulgarian rose, toffee, Madagascan vanilla, musk and amber.

Martine_MicallefWhat was it that ignited your interest in fragrance and eventually led you to founding M. Micallef? I founded M.Micallef with my husband in 1997, and it has been a joint venture of love and passion since the first day . I am an artist and I love to work with my hands; I love creating, designing, painting and combining elements of art. When I met my husband in 1992, I owned two beauty Salons in Cannes and Geoffrey was a banker and managing the finance department at a lab in Grasse. We would both speak about perfumes a lot and what he experienced in the lab, and it helped us to decide to create our own company and develop a brand. M.Micallef Parfums was born…

What are the things that inspire you when creating a fragrance? What does the process of creating a fragrance entail? Creating a perfume starts with a mood and a flash in my mind. It often happens when we travel and are in changing environments. It is either Geoffrey or myself coming up with the idea. Geoffrey then goes to the lab and starts to mix the first ingredients that appeal to the idea with our senior nose.

It is a long process and it can take 6 months and more, but sometimes it is done in no time. We use the finest ingredients and we do not save on ingredients costs. It is always a mix of best natural ingredients and some synthetics that are of the highest olfactive quality. We decided to target the high end of the consumer market from the start and decided to produce luxury with magnificent packaging and scents with rich and natural notes. I think it was the right choice since these consumers are connoisseurs and enjoy great quality.


What are your favorite raw materials to work with? Your best job is when you like something yourself, so I would say that ingredients like rose, jasmine, iris, ylang, aoud, vanilla, gaic, osmanthus and styrax are among my favourites.

Scents usually trigger memories, events and important people in our lives. What was your earliest and favourite scent memory? I think it is going back to the perfume my mother wore. It reminds me of childhood and the warmth and sensitivity of my mother holding me in her arms.

What kind of training is required to create fragrance? There is a special school to attend to become a perfumer, I think it’s a course for a 3 year period. But I strongly believe that the key to become brilliant in this science is to be born talented and gifted for the creation of perfumes. Theoretical knowledge would not be enough to become a master perfumer.

Any advice for budding perfumers? It is really difficult to advise and to say something. To be a perfumer… or not to be…? Perfumery is so interconnected with passion, dreams, feelings and personal inspirations and moods that you cannot be the external adviser.

My Presentation at Making Cosmetics

Putting the daunting task of speaking to a room of experienced beauty industry professionals and the possibility of completely fluffing it up to one side, when I was invited to speak at the Making Cosmetics Conference about how beauty brands can communicate with their Muslim customers I felt honoured and was immediately on board. With three of the emerging and newly coined MINT (step aside BRIC!) nations each housing significant Muslim populations, a promising Halal industry encompassing food to cosmetics, globalisation, increased tourism and the Internet opening doors to communication, shopping and even social change, I felt that there’d be no better moment to speak than now. Hafsa Making Cosmetics 1With my presentation I aimed to initially dispel the usual myths about Muslim women. It’s often that Muslim women are grouped into one without a true understanding of  the vast differences between them in terms of ethnicity, occupation, class and buying behaviour. To do that I created pen portraits of different Muslim women; for example, there was Humaira the 22 year old British graduate whose beauty purchases were mainly determined by sales promotions and the best value available which was a complete contrast to Emirati fashion designer Marwa with a penchant for her luxury cosmetics brands like Guerlain and Tom Ford! There were many other pen portraits I presented to the audience, but while I wanted to highlight the differences between Muslim women I did note that there were indeed similarities to be drawn and that would be their values, mainly influenced by their Islamic faith. Anyone with a marketing background would know what psychographic segmentation is, but for those that don’t it is to divide customers within a market based on their values and attitudes so this would work better than the traditional demographic segmentation. Lancome I took to Facebook in order to find out which values you ladies hold dear and common themes I found were modesty, family, charity, faith and tradition. Using psychographic segmentation and knowing the values of most Muslim women would then influence how a brand would market a product, and I gave the presentation attendees many examples of successful marketing by keeping these values in mind. To illustrate I showed Lancôme’s slight tweak in advertising in the West and in the Middle East to appeal to the value of modesty.

In all, it was an honour to speak at the conference, particularly about a topic I’m passionate about. And thanks to those of you who attended!

Four Things To Know About Estee Lauder

One of my first makeup memories is being a curious 14 year old, raiding my mother’s makeup stash and slapping on copious amounts of Estée Lauder Double Wear all over my face. It didn’t matter that the foundation was five shades lighter or that I was given a good telling off, but the glamorous packaging and luxurious feel of the Double Wear planted the seeds for a love of what is now one of my favourite cosmetics brands. Years later as a business student I’ve come to appreciate Estée Lauder as a whole – the brand, company and businesswoman who started it all. Born Josephine Esther Mentzer, Lauder’s interest went from creating Youth Dew, a perfumed bath oil at Saks Fifth Avenue to a multi-billion dollar conglomerate.

five things to know about estee lauder

1. Being the first to introduce the gift-with-purchase, Estée Lauder was a marketing pioneer. Getting people to buy your product is one thing, but retaining customers is another and while many see gifting as a simple token of appreciation, it goes beyond that. Should the customer fall in love with the sample sized gifts, they’d return back to the counter for more. Clever!

2. Estée Lauder is parent to many of your favourite beauty brands and you probably didn’t even know it! OjonOrigins, Jo MaloneMAC, Tom Ford, Bumble & Bumble and Darphin to name but a few. It’s genius how Estée Lauder has a wide portfolio of brands varying in price point, brand identity and product ranges. Clinique is the scientific skincare brand, MAC the fun and youthful cosmetics line with very loyal women of colour customers anTom Ford is where we all go for super luxury.

3. Not one to miss out on an opportunity, Estée Lauder is expanding into Africa with its first MAC store in Nigeria and the intention to focus on countries including Kenya, Ghana and Angola. While some brands are struggling in the West due to the current economic downturn, many African nations are seeing a boom in their economies and a rising middle class so it makes perfect sense for Estée Lauder to enter. Maybe you’ll be seeing MAC in Mozambique, Clinique in Cairo or a Bobbi Brown counter in Bosaso!

4. After meeting Rodolfo ArcigaEstée Lauder‘s Global Makeup Artist from Mexico at Selfridges‘ Global Makeup Artist Event last November I realised just how global the brand was. The counter staff were also from all over the world, and Estée Lauder‘s faces Constance JablonskiLiu WenJoan Smalls and Arizona Muse reflect the brand’s international diversity.

The Beauty Business | Veer Singh – Founder of Vana Malsi Estate

veer singh

These days India is abuzz with its growing urban landscapes and thriving cities, but tucked away near the border of Nepal is a little piece of quiet. Far, far away and over the mountains lies Vana, Malsi Estate a spa and wellness retreat in Dehradun, Uttarakhand province. The idyllic estate sits in the foothills of the Himalayas, sprawls across 21 acres and is surrounded by lychee and mango orchards. It boasts two restaurants, 69 rooms, 17 suites and 55 treatment rooms. The offerings include yoga, traditional Ayurvedic treatments, detoxes and Tibetan healing. 

The Vana, Malsi Estate has a specialist team of nutritionists, Ayurvedic doctors and fitness experts to help create your custom itinerary based around your needs. A world away from the tour guides beaten track and gap year explorers intending to find themselves, this is an authentic experience of traditional Indian healing. Travel is changing, and people want more like a deeper cultural experience with something tangible, and Vana meets that.

I recently got the chance to sit with Veer Singh, founder of the retreat over lunch at London’s Nopi restaurant ahead of Vana‘s opening on the 4th January 2014.

Where did the idea for Vana come from? Destiny beckoned! On my return from Spain where I had spent time working to become an organic farmer. On returning to India and not finding my feet in farming, I took over a family project to create a resort on this land. My past experiences and the land itself led me to then transform the vision to make it a place of wellness. This is how the idea for the retreat was born.

What was your vision for Vana been from inception? And what have you done to ensure you meet it? The vision statement of Vana Retreats, ‘our lives will be an expression of our core belief to be of service and enhance wellbeing’ is a reflection of my commitmentWe are the only retreat of its kind in the region, perhaps in the world if you take all the elements that make it into account. The sheer breadth of our wellness offering, and the obsession for quality are truly unique. Our sincerity towards every nuance of wellness, our commitment to ensure pure, holistic wellness makes us unique. Our design is a departure from anything in India. We have stayed away from the usual Indian clichés. And yet, we have showcased elements of India in a contemporary format that nobody else has done. Our USP is that we are a place of wellbeing, in every sense of the word, and all aspects of the experience at Vana matter to us.

Vana Retreat

One of the things that Vana is centred around is Ayurveda. How important is Ayurveda to Vana and why? At Vana we offer Ayurveda in its most complete and pure form under the guidance of our Ayurvedic doctors and therapists. Our treatments are completely authentic, and all products used are selected for their therapeutic value.

Ayurveda treatments and consults are offered in Vana, Malsi Estate’s spacious Ayurveda Centre, which has two consultation rooms with 12 treatment suites. The services offered include the full spectrum of Ayurveda, including consultations, therapies and supplements and the team of Ayurvedic practitioners and therapists are led by Dr Avilochan Singh. Dr Singh is a fourth generation Ayurvedic physician with 15 years’ experience.

What kind of treatments can we expect to see in Vana? The treatments offered encompass each of the seven modalities – Ayurveda, Tibetan healing, natural healing, fitness, aqua therapies and spa treatments including aromatherapy, classic Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, Vana signature massage, Lomi Lomi, scrubs, wraps, facials and a salon service.

Who is the ideal visitor to the retreat? Discerning travellers with a keen interest in wellness and wellbeing – anyone over the age of 16.

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