Meet Natalia Outeda, Founder of Frassaï, a fragrance house where Buenos Aires meets New York City! See how flowers, food and fragrance had a great influence on her life and how the intrigue of beauty became the driving force of her brand!
Q: How long have you been interested in scent and perfume? How did you start learning about it?
I became passionate about fragrance when I started working in the industry, back in 2005. Before then, I loved wearing perfume but didn’t have a signature scent. I wore Diva, Cristalle, Ysatis... but once I became immersed in the industry, a whole new world opened up to me, and it was quite fascinating. I got to see what it was like behind the scenes, test things out on a daily basis and be part of this secretive and mysterious world.
Q: Tell us the story of how you transitioned from the floral/restaurant industry to the fragrance industry?
I’ve always been intrigued by beautiful things. Food, flowers and perfume have something in common, they are ephemeral. They also allow us to connect with others, to share our journeys in a simple yet meaningful way. I was very lucky to learn from one of the best restaurateurs and floral designers in New York. I was studying design at F.I.T. when I began working at La Grenouille, a NYC landmark that has historically hosted the likes of Salvador Dali, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and St. Exupéry, who wrote parts of The Little Prince on the upstairs floor. This place had the most incredible flower arrangements I had ever seen and the scent of the dining room still lingers with me. This experience opened me up to a world of refinement and beauty that still inspires me today. Transitioning to fragrance just happened naturally.
Q: I see that your brand is certified vegan and cruelty free. Why is that important?
Harmony with nature is important to me and all the fragrances I create lightly touch upon that subject. When I started the candle and eau de parfum collections, I made a point to ensure they were vegan friendly and cruelty-free. They are also formulated without parabens. I find that many of the products we use contain unnecessary ingredients. We have become more aware of our impact on the environment and I truly believe we can have luxurious, well-crafted scents that are more conscious. Better for you doesn't mean sacrificing an elegant aesthetic, it is simply a more transparent and authentic approach. You will also find that FRASSAÏ's outer packaging is deliberately thinner than that of other niche brands. This was also a conscious decision. Most people throw the box away, so we decided to make it fun and colorful yet light so we can minimize its impact. For our portable touch point perfume, we skip the box and use fabric pouches that you can use to keep jewelry in. We also created cedar wood boxes for our limited edition perfumes this year, making these not only part of the olfactive story, but inviting consumers to reutilize them. We find that in addition to storing perfumes and jewelry, they make for great tea boxes.
Along the journey I learned that it's important to keep an open mind. Many natural ingredients are not biodegradable or safe on skin, they can even deplete valuable natural resources if not harvested sustainably.
Q: What are you most proud of with your brand or your fragrance compositions?
My mission is to inspire people around the world to awaken their senses. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to bring this vision to life and share my creations. I’m humbled by the followers I have from all over the world. It's this connection that I cherish the most. Many have become friends because we share a common language and passion. Fragrance bloggers and scent critics like Luca Turin have also been extremely supportive of my work. When people congratulate me for launching a new line in an overcrowded marketplace, I feel like I’m doing something right. It gives me the drive to continue creating because I realize that the experience that I bring with me is reflected in the end product. People actually take notice.
Q: Besides your own brand, what other fragrances do you wear, if any? If so, which are some of your favorites and why?
Since I started developing my line, I haven’t worn anything else but FRASSAÏ. I truly love the scents and I only create fragrances that I would personally wear. I don’t recall ever finishing a perfume bottle before. I couldn’t identify with any one fragrance, and I have tested hundreds, if not thousands as a result of my work in the industry. I obviously have incredible appreciation for some of the classics and I'm proud of the launches I collaborated on (Polo Red, Kiehl's Orange Flower & Lychee, Parfums DelRae among others...)
My every day go-to fragrance is Verano Porteño, although with the change of seasons I am currently wearing Teisenddu and Tian Di. While I was in NY I was obsessed with Blondine. My sister wears it really well and I was kind of jealous! And for a romantic evening out, A Fuego Lento never fails. I feel that I have found my voice through the creation of perfume.
Q: You also sell flacon necklaces, so cool! How did you come up with this idea and did you design them yourself?
It all started back in 2013 with the Fragrance Flacon Necklace, marrying jewelry and scent. FRASSAÏ stands for "fragrance" and "assai", a test done on metals to assess their purity. I wanted to create modern objects d'art to carry perfume while inviting the wearer to embark upon a new sensorial experience. I design and hand-make all the jewelry that is sold on frassai.com. Lately I have been more focused on the eau de parfum collection, however 2019 promises an expansion of the jewelry line.
Q: If you could describe your brand in 3 words, what would they be?
Buenos Aires meets New York. It is more than 3, I know! But it captures the spirit of the brand.
Q: What’s next for you and the brand?
I would like to continue offering unique sensorial experiences, allowing people to dream and transport themselves with each fragrance. I want to make this a journey of harmony and beauty. Fragrance is a way to uplift and inspire. Something as primitive and mysterious as smell can positively impact our lives. Ultimately we are all intimately connected through air.
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