Pernoire Perfumes, 2 Brothers in Arms in a Strong & Friendly Fight
2023 . 06 . 08 |
Nico and Robin have been best friends since they were six. One is rational, the other emotional, together they are strong in the combat creation of intense perfumes.
Laurence: I must start with the name ‘Pernoire’ where does it come from and what does it mean?
Robin: We decided to twist the Italian expression ‘per noi’ which means ‘for us’ with ‘noir’, ‘black’ in French. We were born and raised in Basel, Switzerland, a town at the border between France and Germany, rich in cultural diversity and influenced by international people. So, our brand name showcases our various cultural backgrounds, half Italian, half South American, wholly Swiss …
In the name of friendship. 'All for one and one for all.'
Laurence: Tell us more about what is behind ‘for us.
Nico: Sure. ‘Us’ is our spirit of brotherhood. It is so strong that people usually think we are from the same family. We are ‘only’ friends. Our friendship started when we were six years old and has gained strength over the years. Today, we have a close and strong relationship that allowed us to embark together on the adventure of creating a brand.
Robin: We also have complementary skills that combine nicely together. I tap into my video, photo, and social media management experience that I have acquired working at a bank. I develop our brand image with the awareness of the critical impact of visuals and, of keeping up to date with the latest technology and social networks trends. Whereas Nico brings his financial knowledge and business development expertise into the game. His familiarity with financial modelling & control, design and implementation of sales processes comes very handy when managing a brand on an entrepreneurial basis.
Laurence: Launching a brand is an intense work project, do you fight at times, or do you peacefully agree?
Robin: We respectfully combat and challenge each other intensely. We know about fierce fights as we used to train in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a combat sport with relatively few rules. In the end, we agree 99% of the time so that the fight is won by both of us. In the creation ‘combat’ process, we also call on other friends, making the ‘together’ bigger and richer.
Laurence: Which other friends did you include in the Pernoire brand?
Nico: I must start with Jiyan, our talented sales & marketing team member, and his cool girlfriend whom you can see on our Instagram account. I also must mention two artists, friends from Basel, whom we have asked to design and paint special editions for our fragrances: Davide Elia Volante, specialised in an abstract art, painted the limited edition of ‘Vitias Art Volante’ and Moira Musio, known for her ‘neon’ pop art, hand-painted ‘Tierra "Moira Musio’.
Laurence: However, Pernoire remains black through and through. Why do you like black so much? What does it represent to you?
Robin: You are right, at Pernoire, everything is black and white, the logo, the perfume bottle, the pictures, the videos… Our obsession with black is both artistic and practical. Black is timeless, elegant, minimalistic, and universal. It speaks to all cultures, and it also conveys the core message of our brand concept: by sticking to a simple black and white in our perfume creative design, we emphasize the colors inside the bottle.
Nico: Similarly, we decided to go for a timeless design. For the perfume bottle, we chose a rectangular shape with a heavy cap to enhance the feel of luxury. For the box, we picked an elegant wooden box with a soft-touch paper again exuding high-quality. On the back, the description of the inspiration of the fragrance also adds to the client experience.
Pernoire captures all the colors inside the bottle.
Laurence: Talking about the variety of colors expressing different olfactive personalities, explain the construction of your perfume collection.
Robin: Our perfume style is both high-end and accessible. We only use high-quality ingredients and materials and at the same time, we have an effortless and casual street style. I think we are the only ones at Esxence wearing comfortable T-shirts. My Pernoire hoodie is a gift from Nico for my birthday. Only one.
Nico: Each one of our perfumes expresses a piece of our personal style. While being different, all of them share an avant-garde spirit and a challenging stance, not meant to please everyone. All our perfumes embody strong personalities. For example, our first scent ‘Masar’, the path in Arabic, tells our story of becoming independent. A powerful mix of honey, tobacco, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, and rosewood give the spirit of self-confidence. Our perfume ‘Mansa’ is based on the story of Mansa Musa, the ruler of the Mali Empire in the 13th century. It is an olfactory representation of wealth and generosity made of a powerful composition of oud, saffron, amber, rose and cassis.
Pernoire perfumes are street gang, everlasting mates.
Laurence: Let us go into the specifics of the creation process of your perfumes.
Nico: I am a rational guy, so I love the process of creating a scent belonging coherently into the Pernoire perfume family composed of Amora, Mansa*, Masar, Tierra, Vitias, and Naki, who just joined the bunch in May 2023. It is like a game of chess** that I play every day; strategic, challenging and exhilarating. For each fragrance, this game translates into a specific brief that includes the name of the perfume we came up with and that encapsulates the inspiration behind the scent.
*Mansa is a finalist in the 2023 art & olfaction awards disclosed at Esxence**Black and white, of course (Laurence comment)
Robin: Our process starts by sharing an olfactive brief with our perfumer, Andreas Wilhelm. From there, we work together to refine the initial samples, gradually shaping them into creations that we are genuinely proud of. We also prepare a creative brief for the designers that do a specific drawing for each perfume.
Nico: In other words, to say it bluntly, Andreas and the other designers act as the vehicle, while we are the drivers.
Laurence: Can you give us a specific example of an olfactive brief?
Robin: I will pick Amoral, our fourth perfume, as it has gained considerable popularity among our followers and customers. The inspiration for Amoral stems from a warm Miami evening back in the 80s. An enigmatic person enters a night club and takes a seat in the VIP section. Full of high energy, the Amoral character is both alluring and dangerous.
Nico: Our intention is not to shock with our fragrances, but rather to push boundaries. We aspire to create entirely new perfumes each time, constantly reinventing ourselves and bringing a sense of joy to the perfume world.
Laurence: Was the fact that Andreas Wilhelm is Swiss an important factor in choosing him or was it more his daring olfactive style or both?
Robin: Our collaboration with Andreas is based on two compelling reasons. His expertise as a perfumer is truly remarkable, with more than 25 years of experience in the industry. Andreas has a proven track record of crafting exceptional perfumes, and we were confident that his knowledge would be perfectly beneficial. Beyond his technical skill set, his deep understanding of our brand DNA and unique vision was absolutely engaging.
Nico: ‘He is one of us’, super approachable, open-minded, and keen on taking the challenge of creating intense and original scents.
Laurence: How do you include the topic of sustainability in your brand?
Robin: This is an important question as we are heavily investing in this critical topic. We have already made great improvements as we have changed the caps of our perfume bottles, only use recycled and sustainable wood, biodegradable paper for the packaging foliage… We know we need to do more so this is work in progress for us.
Laurence: How do you foresee the future for Pernoire?
Nico: The future is ‘open’ as we don’t know where the adventure will take us. In two years, we have reached 40 points of sales in 16 countries, we have gone from one perfume to six and are about to launch a brand discovery set…
Robin: We want to be recognized as a creative niche brand with a strong and unique story. Kate, who purchased our Amoral perfume, gave us this feedback, and made us so happy:
‘The longevity of your product is the best I have ever encountered,
put a disclaimer “may stay for several days. Use wisely “.
Laurence: I can add to your happiness by sharing the story about you that Kurt & Stephane, owners of Smell Stories in Brussels, told me:
One day, ‘Nico suddenly walked into our shop, carrying perfumes in his backpack…. Here stood the (co-)owner of a new brand who had come straight from Basel to Brussels in search of retailers for Pernoire...The fact that an owner himself consciously visits shops to see if his brand would fit in, is a good signal for me. After all, deciding to add a brand is not a one-way street. There must be a match from both sides. And it clicked immediately with Nico…He was also genuinely interested in what we thought of their first three creations. In brief: they are solid, bold fragrances with a distinct signature. These guys had a clear vision and knew what they wanted’…they also listen to our feedback and act on it.