Some of the artistic niche fragrance leaders who will soon convene at Esxence in Milan. Left to right: Silvio Lévi, founder of Esxence, James Heeley, owner of Heeley Parfums, Nicolas Cloutier, CEO of NOSE perfume boutique in Paris, and François Duquesne, CEO of Beauty Entreprise.
Esxence, The Scent of Excellence held in Milan each year, is arguably the single most important annual event in niche perfumery. This year’s 6th Edition of Esxence will take place Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 29, 2015.
Six weeks out, Esxence is already the subject of much talking and planning in the Paris artistic niche fragrance world I inhabit.
A conversation with François Duquesne at a dinner party the other night sheds light on some of the reasons why….
For ‘la petite histoire’, François is a ‘fragrance mentor’, a person who guides a brand through the entire fragrance production process, from conception to creation to marketing and sales. As CEO of Beauty Entreprise, François is perhaps best known for his master coup in the conception of Aedes de Venustas, a pioneer and icon in American niche fragrance. François is also the licensing partner of the brand, Aedes de Venustas.
François describes Esxence as ‘The Sundance’ for artistic niche fragrances.
“Esxence is basically Sundance for the perfume industry,” François says. “Like Sundance, which is where independent film people meet, far from The Oscars which are oriented to the needs of the big guys, Esxence is where the independent fragrance community meets. Esxence is what’s happening and Esxence is where we know we will find what we need.
One of the reasons Esxence is so successful is thanks to the vision, experience, and personality of its founder, Silvio Lévi. As an industry player who wears many hats (in addition to producing Esxence, Silvio is a distributor, a brand owner, and retailer shop owner), Silvio knows the independent fragrance business from every angle, and has tailored Esxence to fit the exact and individual needs of each participant. Silvio is also an open and generous person, and thanks to this, Esxence has a happy and upbeat feel to it, and is a very agreeable place to meet up.
Speaking for myself, this means that in a very convivial atmosphere, I can actually get a lot of WORK done at Esxence. For instance, as a brand owner, I come to Esxence knowing I’ll be able to accomplish three essential things:
Expose the brand to international visitors
Esxence is a rich and interactive market place where the most important actors in the worldwide independent fragrance industry convene. This is my chance to show them what’s new in what I’m doing, and where I’m going. Again, because of Silvio’s first-hand knowledge of how individuals in the industry work, Esxence is set up to meet our needs. Esxence has the structure of a classic exposition where each brand has a booth, and each brand can express and show everything about itself. Esxence is not a ‘one size fits all’ exhibit. It’s something each brand can personalize. As a brand, this is very important for me.
BE at the heart of the Italian market.
The Italian market for independent perfume brands is vital because it’s made up of lots of independent retailers. For me, personally, it’s my largest market in Europe, and my second largest market in the world. It’s very important for me to be at Esxence because this is where I can connect with my local retailers, and since Esxence is open to the public on Sunday, I can also meet my local consumers and get useful insights.
Meet up with friends and peers, and all the people who are active in the industry in a very convenient and happy way.
Esxence is what we would call in French a yearly rendez-vous where we get to network with our friends and competitors in the industry, and see how everybody is doing. This is really important because we are in a tough world as entrepreneurs, and sometimes it’s easy to feel like we are alone. It’s good to reconnect with the other people and see that we are not the only ones struggling (he laughs), and to share our successes as well as our failures with people who do the same.
In addition to other brand owners like myself, there are distributors, retailers (Italian, of course, but also German, French, Australian, American….), bloggers, influencers, journalists, independent perfumers, as well as bottle, cap, and box suppliers. There are also individuals who work for large brands, who like to come to Esxence because there is a community there that they want to know about and be part of it. Karen Marin, who works for Givenchy, is an excellent example of this type of participant. (For another petite histoire’, this year Karen will be moderating a panel discussion entitled “Artisan Perfumery: Business Opportunities and Business Threats”.)
This dynamic and convivial mix of people is great for everybody because we get to meet those we might otherwise only know by reputation or email. And we meet each other everywhere, not just at the stands – we meet at the exhibit’s café and restaurant, at the entrance, at the panel discussions and workshops, at the parties….
In short, Esxence is very much alive as a working community with passion and ‘soul’, and perhaps this is why it has imposed itself in the last 5 years as THE worldwide event for our industry.”
Sarah’s only parting comment:
Mark your calendars in RED.
When: Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 29, 2015.
Where: The Mall, the heart of the new Skyline of Milan, in the Porta Nuova Events District.