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.

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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.

Morning Masks

When exams unfortunately make free time a luxury, the usual Sunday pampering sessions are a thing of the past forcing one to be more creative with time. Manicures on the bus, acquiring the impressive skill of applying liquid eyeliner in a cab mid bumpy ride without error and skincare multi-tasking… we’ve all been there. But with the absence of the face masks which feature heavily in my Sunday pampering sessions beginning to show on my face, that’s where another time creative stroke of genius came in – face masks in the morning. Now, it’s not quite as indulgent as laying back on the sofa all day while the mask works its magic, it’s a lot more frantic than that with it involving a quick slap of whichever mask you have lying around and continuing with your morning tasks whether that’s ironing your outfit, jumping into the shower or tucking into breakfast.

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My face mask of choice will greatly depend on how exactly my skin’s looking upon waking up in the morning.If the mirror greets me with dull looking skin there’s always the SkinCeuticals Clarifying Clay Masque* with its blend of kaolin, bentonite and hydroxy acids to get my skin into smooth, glowing shape especially before a big event. But with London’s recent weather not only confusing my decision to carry an umbrella or not whenever I leave my house, but my skin too, Liz Earle’s Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask* is just what your skin needs when it’s parched and in dire need of a shot of intense hydration. Considering it’s loaded with shea butter, something less thick may be of benefit if your skin’s particularly dry but also quite prone to breaking out, and that’s where Sampar’s So Much to Dew Midnight Mask* comes to the rescue. From a cult brand championed by Parisiennes across the channel, this mask may be intended to do its thing overnight while you sleep but in just one hour it’ll leave your skin instantly plump and supple making makeup application a lot easier.

Masks needn’t be limited to your face however; when sleep after a late night leaves you looking anything but refreshed, the Jamela Skincare 24k Gold Under Eye Masks* work wonders thanks to a formula of gold which is known for its rejuvenating properties, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and a host of antioxidants that come together to instantly brighten, plump up and smooth out the under eye area after roughly 15-30 minutes of popping on the pads – a miracle just before applying concealer.

Beauty Experiences | Paul Edmonds Salon

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First Impressions
First thing that comes to mind? I want to live here! Candles burning in the background, chic and modern interiors with muted grey walls and complementary bursts of colour offered by beautiful orchid and lily arrangements made it very difficult for me to leave. The salon oozes opulence and I expect nothing less from a Knightsbridge salon and Paul Edmonds definitely delivers.

The Treatment
I was booked in for a full manicure, and before I had the lovely Saynab tend to my shoddy nails at the nail bar I was met with shelves of Essie polishes, but there was only one shade I had my eye on – For The Twill Of It which Essie describes to be a rich maple lacquer with reflective olive shimmer. As the star of the show in Essie’s Fall 2013 collection, it’s definitely a shade for your inner magpie but Saynab suggested going for The Lace is On, a gorgeous jewel toned pearlescent fuchsia as it’d pop against my skin. Always trust an expert!

What I Loved
There’s a real friendly, family-like atmosphere at Paul Edmonds – everyone from the clients to the team were chit chatting with each other about a range of things from Paris Fashion Week to skincare to healthy eating and the Paul Edmonds himself popped down to the nail bar for a chat and complemented me on my manicure.

Verdict
Now I may not be able to live there but I can definitely visit Paul Edmonds a lot more frequently, and as I type I’m currently deciding when to book in my facial with Saynab!

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!

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