Photos courtesy of Lisa Hoffman Beauty
Lisa Hoffman is a very good friend. And you don’t have to meet her to know this.
The qualities of friendship are written all over her brand, Lisa Hoffman Beauty, and with each of her creations you get the feeling that a thoughtful friend has listened to your needs and then come up with an inspired solution.
This kind of personal and caring conceptual vision doesn’t come along every day, and Lisa Hoffman Beauty didn’t happen overnight. Not surprisingly, the story of Lisa Hoffman Beauty, which includes beauty care, fragrance, and jewelry, is closely intertwined with Lisa’s personality.
Lisa is a thoughtful listener. But behind soft brown eyes and a quiet smile lurk a quick think-out-of-the-box intelligence, a strong sense of esthetics, and a busy woman’s balanced pragmatism. If, for good measure you throw in an amazing life experience full of romance, travel, and glamour, you’ve got the makings of one powerhouse of a friend.
I first met Lisa at Elements Showcase, a niche fragrance tradeshow in New York. Raphaella Barkley, my editor at ThePerfumeMagazine.com had told me about her brand, and I have to admit my first reaction was ‘Oh gosh, another celebrity fragrance.’ But the minute I met Lisa I knew this was going to be different. She was different. Nothing flash. Nothing in your face. Nothing slick or superficial. Instead, Lisa the person was refreshingly thoughtful and present.
Then a few weeks later she sent me some fragrance jewelry from her “Classic Collection”, and my own version of the Lisa Hoffman Beauty story began to take shape….
Immediately upon opening the package, which included five eau de parfum fragrances, a set of beaded bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, each with a perfumed filigree charm, I recognized them as generous little messengers bearing Lisa’s energy and presence.
Plenty of stuff to play around with, and play I did. But before I even got a chance to do that I had a serious fragrance experience. One bracelet in particular, with green beads and a charm containing French Clary Sage fragrance beads, called my name above the others and literally jumped onto my wrist. Was it because I live in France? Maybe. Or perhaps, it was the greenness of the delicate herbal scent that is somehow clean, light and sexy. Something about its personality worked for me and I had one of those delightful ‘Oh YES!’, experiences. You know what I’m talking about. The way you feel when you find someone or something you immediately know you are going to like and spend good times with. Right there in the middle of February, I had a little idyll with Clary Sage, and only Clary Sage.
Clary Sage wasn’t possessive though. Here we were in the middle of a romance, and she actually nudged me towards the other fragrances and jewelry that were winking at me from the LHB box on my desk. So early one morning, and without removing Clary Sage, I slipped on the Madagascar Orchid bracelet… and then the Japanese Agarwood. Harmonious colors of green, ivory, and brown. Interestingly, the three fragrances complimented each other. Perhaps because they are subtle and light, they all three blended into something that seemed like a natural extension of me.
Before long, I added Tunisian Neroli and Tuscan Fig so I was wearing all five bracelets. The next day I paired the Madagascar Orchid earrings with a Tunisian Neroli bracelet. Another day, I opted for the Tuscan Fig necklace and all the bracelets.
Feeling empowered, I mixed beads from two fragrances within one charm and came up with my own personal Tunisian Neroli/Tuscan Fig duo. I played around with it all – the jewelry, the beads, and the five eau de parfum sprays. On the skin, off the skin, together, separately, with and without the jewelry.
No matter what I did I never got a clash. Just a harmonious and appealing trail of fragrance and color.
By this time I had completed my perfume work in New York, was visiting my family in North Carolina, and feeling playful and inspired. I was also creating a stir among my friends and family. Everybody was intrigued by my Lisa Hoffman fragrance jewelry. Everybody admired. Everybody wanted to play. Then something interesting happened. One by one, I began giving it away – Tuscan Fig, Madagascar Orchid, Japanese Agarwood, and Tunisian Neroli.
Friendship, it turns out, is contagious.
First, bracelets went to my mother and sisters. Then a bracelet and a necklace to a pair of special friends. On my return trip to Paris I spent the night with my cousin in New York, and gave her a bracelet as a hostess present. Back in Paris a friend had just become engaged, and I gave her a pair of earrings over lunch. She was so thrilled she put them on at the table.
Later that week I met a friend for coffee and learned that her husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer. While listening to her story and realizing there was little I could do but offer moral support, I fiddled with the two remaining bracelets on my arm. A moment later I had slipped the brown and blue beaded Japanese Agarwood bracelet around her wrist.
Each present was right for each friend. I didn’t miscalculate a single time – not an easy thing to do with perfume or jewelry. In fact, I broke all my rules about not giving perfume or jewelry to friends. In most instances (ask my dear husband) these are too personal to pick for somebody else. Not the case with the Lisa Hoffman products. Perhaps, it’s because in addition to being distinct and unique, each fragrance and piece of jewelry is subtle and open to harmony. No matter where it falls in the range — from “Classic” to “Couture” — each piece makes a classy statement. There’s nothing loud, in your face, or show-stealing about Lisa Hoffman or her products. But rather, like a good friend, there for you, supporting and highlighting your best qualities.
Fragrance and jewelry together?
Not just anyone would come up with such an idea. But then, Lisa Hoffman is not just anyone. It’s perhaps not surprising to know that Lisa inherited strong entrepreneurial DNA from her grandfather who was an inventor, and that as a child, Lisa loved helping out on the assembly line of his factory.
“My grandfather was an inventor and he owned a factory. Among other things he manufactured toys, and as a young girl I was allowed to work on the assembly line putting little plastic teacups in the tea sets. Later, when I first started my business and went to a manufacturing plant, I was overwhelmed by the memories of smells — cardboard, tractors, grease, — all those smells very specific to a warehouse. Invention and manufacturing are part of who I am.”
It also turns out that Lisa was dabbling in perfume creation as a little girl, and even created her own version of Chanel No. 5.
“My first fragrance memory is about creating my own fragrance which happened when my uncle gave me a perfume making kit. I was a little girl, and after opening the box, I went straight to my grandmother’s bathroom. I was careful not to drop her bottle of Chanel No 5 as I smelled it to inspire my own creation. Then I went to work creating what I thought was an excellent knock-off. I wore this creation for quite a while.”
Lisa’s perfume jewelry: Necessity as the mother of invention.
“One day years later, while working with my team on a fragrance for my skincare line I was met with a dilemma. I was covered in an overwhelming mixture of fragrances when I suddenly realized I needed to be fragrance-free in order to go to my Pilates class. The last time I had gone, the teacher had made a comment like, ‘Oh! That smells strong!’. So here I was again: at work, no shower in my office, and needing to get rid of the scent I had all over me. My worlds collided.
I happened to be wearing a beaded bracelet a friend had given me, and a pair of Victorian era earrings, a gift from my husband. You may not know this, but in the Victorian era, it wasn’t considered ladylike to wear fine gems in the daylight. So when a woman had to travel in a carriage by day before arriving at an evening event, she wore ‘coach-case’ earrings that encased and hid the gems inside. When she arrived at the event, she simply removed the cases from around her earrings to show off her splendid gems. These ‘Victorian-case’ earrings were pretty in and of themselves. So here was this moment in my life: I was covered with fragrance, needing to be fragrance-free, and wearing a beaded bracelet and these Victorian case earrings. It also happened that among the things on my conference table there were some beads that held fragrances. It suddenly occurred to me that if my ‘Victorian case’ earrings could contain perfume beads instead of gems, I could simply take off the earrings, and the perfume would no longer be on my body. It was in this moment of personal need that I also realized there were occasions when I, and surely many other women, would not want to be wearing a fragrance, or when it might not be appropriate to be wearing a fragrance. I also knew there were woman who would like to wear fragrances but couldn’t because of skin allergies. Since fragrance beads don’t come into contact with the skin, encasing them in a piece of jewelry could make all this possible.
I immediately called the woman responsible for product development in my company, took off my earrings, took off my bracelet, showed her the fragrance beads, and said, “Joan, can we make this happen?” She got it immediately, and we went straight to work. First, finding beads that correspond to my five fragrance families, and afterwards creating charms, which instead of being solid gold cases like the ‘Victorian-case’ earrings, had a filigree that would allow the fragrance to be thrown. This is how jewelry and fragrance became connected for me. And of course, I love the organic connection between jewelry and fragrance as well. We wear them both at our pulse points, those places around our neck, ears, and wrists where they will heat up and where we’d like for people to come close. One of the secrets of my fragrance jewelry is that it is so subtle and light that it draws people in. I’ve felt that people in general seem to be getting a bit closer since I’ve been wearing my fragrance jewelry.”
Expanding the Lisa Hoffman Beauty Line
Working within the concept of this caring pragmatism, Lisa is continuously expanding her line to create other variations of fragrance jewelry.
Designing a collection Tom Binns, Lisa Hoffman Beauty has come up with an avant-garde jewelry range, all of which can be worn with any of her five fragrances.
Working with Swarovski Elements Pearls, she has created bracelets for more dressy occasions.
In addition to beauty products and perfume jewelry Lisa has produced other innovations and fragrances working in collaboration with women’s daily social and natural rhythms.
‘Variations’ fragrances, are four variations on a single fragrance theme, created for a busy woman like me (and presumably you) who might be away from home all day. Just as our wardrobe and accessories need to vary from morning to evening, the same goes for fragrance. If I’m going straight from my office to an evening event, chances are I’ll change from flats to heels, from a sweater to a jacket, and from casual jewelry to pearls. If anybody knows this, Lisa Hoffman does, and, again, thinking like a resourceful friend, she has come up with fragrance options to evolve in a similar way throughout a woman’s day. Four different ‘variations’ on a single theme (Morning, Day, Evening, and Bedtime) provide subtly evolving refresher doses of fragrance that take into consideration evolutions of both natural and social rhythms throughout the day.
As Lisa explains it, “Many women often leave the house first thing in the morning and might not be home until they go to bed at night – or even then. So our olfactive needs change throughout the day.
As you know, I’m a loyal gal, but for my fragrances, I want something fresh in the morning and throughout the day, but I’d like something a little warmer and sexier in the evening and when I go to bed. So I asked Cos Policastro, [Executive Vice President, Givaudan Fine Fragrances] if it would be possible to take a single fragrance and create it in four different variants. Not to simply make it lighter or stronger — but to literally change the notes to have the fresher notes more prevalent with the morning variant and the warmer notes — the ambers and vanillas — in the evening. When Cos said ‘yes’, I began to work with pulse point oils on a fragrance variation concept which layers, and is also a top-up and a shift. I decided to present these four ‘variations’ in a soft leather wallet a woman could conveniently carry with her throughout the day, wherever she might be, at lunch time, evening, or bed time.”
The Transatlantic Test
It happens that my first experience with “Variations” was on an overnight flight from New York to Paris. Certainly, an acid test for any product. As you might have guessed, the fragrance I chose was Clary Sage. Just after takeoff I applied the ‘Evening’ variation, and when I turned out my light to go to sleep I applied ‘Bed Time’. Breakfast was served at 6 o’clock the next morning, and I was happy to know that my perky little friend ‘Morning’ was there to help me adjust to the early hour and accompany me through customs and baggage claim. At 10:30 when the morning blah’s began to set it, I applied ‘Day”, and it was then that I knew my soft green ‘Variations’ wallet of pulse point oils had found a permanent place in my handbag.
What Lisa Hoffman knows about women today is that change and variety are constant and that we can use all the help we can get. As I continue to discover her products I always have the same feeling: that this inventive and generous friend has cared enough for me to anticipate my needs and outdo herself in fulfilling them beyond my expectations.
Before sending you out to explore on your own, there’s one last thing I should tell you about Lisa’s personality. Something you may have already guessed, and that helps explain the lightness and inventiveness of Lisa’s products. She’s playful.
In her own words
“I encourage women to experiment and play with my fragrances; to blend and layer them if they like. I do that all the time. It’s important to feel freedom, even with fine fragrances, which are traditionally so high-brow. All my fragrances work well together. So it’s fine to layer one body product on another fragrance, or layer two fragrances together. To have fun, to play, and in the end it all goes back to my childhood first kit where I was playing to create my own fragrance….”
For a closer look at Lisa’s products check out her website http://www.lisahoffmanbeauty.com. And for a subtle wink at her ‘celebrity’ inspiration, the little film http://vimeo.com/62200231 says it all.