From making a one-off scented candle for a friend, to registering Ormonde Jayne at Company House in November 2000 — A year later you opened up in Mayfair at The Royal Arcade. Was there a lightbulb moment?
I have never been one to market research or make extensive business plans. I tend to be impulsive and I’m more a ‘back of the envelope’ type. When I saw this available space in a gorgeous Victorian arcade with double height window, I saw a great stage that would lend itself perfectly to perfume. It felt so right as a location for my new range of perfumes and my philosophy. From seeing it for the first time to serving our first customer was a matter of a few weeks which was supersonic for retail openings, as it was way before the era of popups!
I had to convince the landlord of the Royal Arcade that I would be an asset to his arcade and would be able to flourish. It wasn’t easy as he was dubious about my lack of previous retail experience in London! The way I convinced him was by arriving in his office clutching my entire collection of scented candles and flacons and showed him I would create a really gorgeous unique perfumery that would benefit the area.
It was certainly an instinct and a vision where I knew I could make an amazing perfumery and thankfully, I turned it into a reality.
What are the foundations of Ormonde Jayne?
Translating what I believe to be creative, abstract, unique and appealing ideas into fragrance for our clients, who come from all walks of life. The evidence is seeing people who walked into our boutique in the first weeks returning today to buy the same fragrances, because they return that belief. Although our perfumers are open to everyone, it’s like being part of a special exclusive community and when asked, our clients enjoy recounting that their perfume is bought from a small British handmade perfume house in Mayfair.
Who is a typical Ormonde Jayne wearer?
It’s impossible to answer because our customers come from all walks of life from all over the world. We can literally place an Ormonde Jayne flag in every country! We don’t just cater for people from The Middle East or from Europe as we have such a wide variety in our fragrance and ingredient repertoire. We really see all ages from 12 years buying their first bottle, to sprightly 94 year olds, but the one thing our customers have in common is that they know a good perfume when they smell one!
What is your Proudest moment?
I would say greatest achievement is the work life balance; I run a business but for 48 weeks a year, my two young sons see me first thing in the morning and last thing at night and we can sit down to at least a breakfast together. It’s no mean feat but I did learn to master it fairly early on and I so I would say I am particularly proud of it, and our sons too!
In 2004, I launched Ormonde Man which was the very first ever fine fragrance that contained the ingredient Oudh. No one had heard of it and we would have to spell it out to every beauty editor. Now, it’s a confirmed category and it’s almost mainstream.
The other ingredient we introduced was Ta’if rose. Until our fragrance Ta’if launched in 2005 it was used as an attar in the Middle East but had never been used in a fine fragrance. I travelled to the town of Ta’if in 2004, a dusty hot hilltop town in Saudi Arabia, met with the growers and was given mountains of fresh dates. I wanted to create a fragrance with Ta’if that also connected its local heritage. Now, many people have heard of Ta’if rose and the town and it’s one of our most popular fragrances loved by men and women.
In 2005, I decided to make our entire collection gender free and erase all traces of Men and Women, with the exception of Ormonde Woman and Ormonde Man. I took that decision after two particular experiences with men choosing two fragrances that had been classified as feminine. It seemed a radical move fifteen years ago as there was no public debate about gender politics. But today, I think it’s seen as forward thinking and almost obvious to refrain from pigeon holing gender with our sense of smell. So, although it wasn’t intended to be an achievement at the time, I am pleased I followed my instinct and ignored the marketing norms of the time.
Where do you see Ormonde Jayne in the next 20 years?
I would like to see OJ standing the test of time and built upon what we have already achieved. To be present in only the top end boutiques around the world. I would like my brand to exist side by side to the very best market; And ultimately for my family to be healthy & happy.
Our Philosophy is to look for ingredients not widely used, recently I managed to track down pure gardenia absolute as it is such an elusive ingredient. That suits me down to a tee! I would also like to collaborate my love of food, Gourmande Jayne featured on my website is another aspect and having the pleasure of eating it afterwards! Ideally I would like to hook up with chefs & cook for my closest & dearest friends.