She’s an icon, she’s a legend and she’s also a fragrance-brand founder who likes to take a very hand’s-on approach (you might even be able to find her in-store, helping customers make a curated Henry Rose selection): She’s Michelle Pfeiffer, a woman who needs no introduction, but wants to introduce perfume-lovers to a new way to look at the space.
What are you excited about this fall as it relates to the brand?
We just released our newest fragrance Char in early October, which features amber, woody tonka bean, ginger, and Moroccan orange flower. It’s very sexy. Some have called it “fall in a bottle,” recounting memories of campfires and smoky mezcal cocktails. We also recently launched in Nordstrom and opened our first pop-up store at The Platform in Culver City, California. I’ve had so much fun getting out to the store and helping customers shop for fragrances. We’ll be open through the end of year!
What is the most difficult thing about bringing a new scent to market?
When I founded Henry Rose, the only thing I truly cared about was creating a quality fragrance that met the strict safety & sustainability standards of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Cradle to Cradle (C2C). After a lot of rejection and dead ends, I was finally introduced to International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) which was willing to work with me to realize my vision. I knew that developing a fragrance that met both EWG and C2C’s high standards would prove to be a difficult task, and because of that, I was expecting we would create just one fragrance. Instead, we were able to create and launch the brand with five.
What has since amazed me is the astonishing work of the perfumers given their extremely limited palette of ingredients. Perfumers typically pull from a palette of about 3,000 ingredients when they formulate. For Henry Rose, after mixing ingredients that didn’t meet EWG or C2C’s standards, our perfumers were left with only about 300 to choose from. This has since increased slightly, but they are still working with less than 400 and we’ve been able to launch six more scents for a total offering of 11. Just last year, we launched our first true floral scent, Flora Carnivora, which was incredibly challenging to formulate with the ingredient restrictions. It took more than two years! So, every new scent we bring to market feels like a huge accomplishment.
Is there one product type you’d love to launch in the future or, likewise, a “ream” product that you hope to develop?
We are hard at work on some new products and categories at Henry Rose, some of which we are excited to debut next year. Fragrance is everywhere, and in so many types of products, so I really feel like the sky’s the limit in terms of where we could go in the future.
Did you always think you would launch a fragrance line?
No, it wasn’t until I became a mother that I began to pay closer attention about what I was putting in and on my body. Fragrance was always really personal to me, but once I learned that fragrances are protected as “trade secrets” and brands are not required to disclose the ingredients in fragrances on product labels, I stopped wearing perfume or anything that contained fragrance. I searched for safer alternatives and kept coming up short, and really started to miss the quality of the fine fragrances I was used to wearing. Eventually, I realized that if I wanted a beautiful, fine fragrance that was also safer and transparent with its ingredients, there were likely others looking for the same thing. I decided to try to create something myself, because we shouldn’t have to compromise quality for safety.
Are there any other beauty brands you really respect in terms of what they’re doing with ideas and sustainability?
Is there any beauty product you’ve used forever?
I tend to take a less-is-more approach to my skin care, and recently started using Stella McCartney’s new skin-care line. It’s a simple, clean and sustainable high-performance brand. My skin tends to be sensitive, so when I find a brand or product that agrees with me, I stick with it.
What can fans of Henry Rose expect next?
We’re expanding our offering in a way that feels natural and authentic to our brand. We listen to our consumers to inform a lot of our product development. The past year, we’ve undergone significant retail expansion—the brand launched with Credo Beauty, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Nordstrom, and of course we opened our first brand pop-up shop at Platform. Fragrance will always be at the core of what we do, but we are excited for the many possibilities that lie ahead.
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