Mona Maine de Biran TALKS: on Challenging the Rules of Fragrance
As the founder of Manhattan Minds, I wasn't quite sure how to share... my own interviews. I thought it would be funny to do a vlog, instead of a blog... interviewing my self in the mirror a la Jimmy Fallon. Then, myself reminded myself, "You're just not that great of an actor, Mona."
So, here's the straight scoop (minus the theater) from me on the industry of beauty and my new venture, as a founder of the disruptive fragrance house, KIERIN NYC:
Q: How are fragrance brands disconnected with the consumers of today?
The way in which most fragrance brands market and advertise is out of step with the consumers of today. Slow to let go of the past, conventional fragrance brands still market to consumers in a way which segregates, defines and confines the consumer.
"My experience as a model has fueled my passion."
The use of hyper-idealized spokespeople- models, designers and celebrities- was once a successful way of inserting aspirational values into the mind of the customer. As a model, I never supported this aspirational “you are not enough as you are” business model. I prefer the inspirational business model to the aspirational kind.
Thankfully, there are a growing number of awakened consumers seeking out brands that are real, that represent their own values and ideals and not someone else’s. Brands in step with this modern consumer don't peddle perfection or conformity. KIERIN NYC is connecting with people to help them create, individuate and express their own independent and unique, best selves using our fragrances.
Q: What change is required of the fragrance industry?
To keep step with the times we live in, change is required in the way fragrance is marketed and advertised. Conventional brands need to change the way they sample and communicate in order to engage through the internet. KIERIN NYC is challenging the rules with its direct to consumer, digital approach. With its "Try at Home" promotions and free domestic shipping on all orders, KIERIN NYC takes the risk out of buying fragrance online.
Q: What makes KIERIN NYC a disruptive brand?
One of the several ways KIERIN NYC is disrupting the fragrance industry is by holding, core to the brand and not just as an afterthought, the values of diversity, inclusion and equality.
It makes as much sense to me to have separate isles for men and women fragrances as it does to have separate menus for men and women in a restaurant; or to have galleries decide and dictate which art is 'for women' and which is 'for men'. And, by that, I mean absolutely no sense whatsoever.
In these modern times we all accept that taste and art are universal human experiences the appreciation of which is up to the individual. But when it comes to fragrance, old stereotypes linger from a time when gender dictated your job, your rights and your style.
"I dream of a day when there will be no women’s or men’s isles for fragrance... in store or online."
Q: How are you different from other ‘unisex’ brands?
Most unisex fragrances are, frankly, boring. Mostly white, transparent, minimalistic packaging and bland, simplistic blends. It is an artificial construct abhorrent to nature that, in order to appeal to both genders, a fragrance looks and feels sexless.
All the colors of the rainbow exist in nature and, without bias, KIERIN NYC celebrates them all with a colorful collection. I don't see why fragrance packaging or blend should be stripped of bold and beautiful personality. As gourmands and as individuals, we challenge this industry, unspoken rule.
"Genderless doesn’t have to be generic."
Q: How is KIERIN NYC’s concept innovative?
KIERIN NYC is based on the real, urban stories of New York City life illuminated by fragrance. These stories are my stories, but they are not uncommon experiences. People who live and visit New York will identify with these stories as their own.
KIERIN NYC is a brand about people, not places. We believe it is the great people of New York City, not its streets or buildings, and the tremendous energy and diverse lifestyles of the people that makes New York a great place to live and visit. We aim to be a highly-social brand that appeals to an audience of unique, extraordinary, complex, young individuals of all ages with the confidence to enjoy entering a room with a quality fragrance that turns heads.
Q: What was the inspiration behind creating this scent collection?
My husband is a veteran in the beauty industry and I have always been inspired by his successes. However, though there were many fragrances on the market, there were none that I felt expressed the truth of modern living in New York City and that also appealed to my social values. I was tired of gender-biased brands peddling over-priced juice and stereotypes.
“We embrace the beauty of New York’s 99%- not just its 1%.”
With a different business model and the right corporate values, my husband and I knew we could help more people experience niche-fragrance. Niche fragrance does not have to be reserved just for special occasions. Our niche collection is accessibly priced luxury that can be enjoyed by more people, more often.
KIERIN NYC ‘s inspiration is also art. With art as our muse and the help of our friend and fellow co-founder, Chris, we chose urban art movements as the perfect spokesmodel for the collage label of our inaugural scents: Nitro Noir, 10 am Flirt, Santal Sky and Sunday Brunch.
Q: What was the process for creating each scent?
Each scent began as a real New York City story. I wrote the stories of each fragrance myself (you can read them on the packaging). We shared these stories with Matheiu Nardin, one of a new generation of very talented perfumers combining traditional techniques and materials with the new innovations. Mathieu's task was to translate the stories into scent stories which he masterfully accomplished.
Q: What drives your passion?
Like the lovely Emily Weiss, also the creator of a blog and beauty brand, I am a passionate advocate for change and hope to create things that inspire and connect people. KIERIN NYC helps people feel (and smell) good, which can elevate their vibe and put them in the mood to make the best of the day. I hope people will make KIERIN NYC deeply personal and embrace the “good-vibes only” , “life life to its fullest” messaging.
So, thank you for the interview... self! That's a wrap on me... and my take. What's yours? Manhattan Minds wants to know! FOLLOW and JOIN the conversation on social media: @ManhattanMinds on Instagram, Pinterest , Facebook , LinkedIn and @Manhattan_Minds on Twitter.
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Author: Mona Maine de Biran
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