When Christèle Jacquemin reached out to us about showcasing her line of fragrances, we couldn't have been more excited! An Art + Olfaction Awards Finalist, photographer, perfumer and traveler, we were fascinated with her background and happy "accidents" that lead to her starting her own brand. Read along as life transitions, meditation months in Asia and being able to weave all of her passions together allows her to be both an artist and an artisan.
Say hello to Christèle Jacquemin.
Q: I see that you have been in the fragrance industry in different roles. Can you tell us more about that and how it influenced you to create your own line of perfumes?
I actually entered the fragrance industry by accident. I was looking for a job top travel and it happened to be in Spain in the fragrance industry, in the city of Murcia, which is the Spanish twin city of Grasse (France) where I lived and worked during 17 years. I had different roles in the company as you mention. I was first hired to travel the African continent as an area sales manager, then was named Sales Manager for the Flavors division, and was asked to create the Marketing Department of the company with Marketing and Communications activities.
During all these years I learned a lot about the inside of the fragrance industry. I had a first phase in 2009 where I worked in the company as part-time for 5 years, and working also as a professional photographer at the same time. I was already missing possibilities to express my creativity in an industrial environment. I went back full time in 2014 and definitely quit in 2017 for a new and personal adventure.
Q: When you decided to create your own perfume brand, what was easy for you and what was more challenging than you thought it would be?
When I left the Spanish company I worked for 17 years, I did not had in mind at all to create my own brand. I focused first on what was my biggest dream at that moment, and what came to my mind was to learn how to create perfume. A week after I quit I started a perfumery course in Paris. I moved to Barcelona, in the North of Spain where I would live now and travelled to Paris to attend my lessons.
Photography was a companion in this transition time too and I would carry my camera all the time with me, and would take photography lessons in Barcelona at that time too.
When we were almost done with the perfumery course, we were all asked to create a fragrance and inspiration came from a photoseries I was actually working on. I found this experience of transposing images into scent so amazing and so powerful in sensations. But I was not thinking at launching this concept as a brand. I had my exam in front of 4 perfumers and flew the same day at night to Asia for a five-month trip. It is actually during that trip where I spent all my time at taking pictures, meditating about what will be next, and living intensely the present, that the idea of launching the concept under my name.
I ended up the Asian trip with a group exhibition in a gallery in the 798 Art Zone in Beijing. I presented the photoseries and the scent I created and when I saw the emotions that my practice of combining the senses of sight and smell would have on the visitors, I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do: make people feel happy, give and share wellness.
The main challenge for a brand is not so much about all that has been done to make it viable, but to have a concept that would be unique and authentic, true. Not one more brand. I think this is the most challenge. The concept “A trip, a photoseries, a fragrance” is me. I feel complete with these three components in my life.
Q: Outside of being a perfumer, you’re a photographer and traveler. Can you tell us how you weave your passions together?
One cannot exist without the others. Travelling for me is like discovering and I love to meet and be surprised. When I left my job in Spain, I had in this transition time this temptation to choose between perfumery and photography, but I soon realized it was impossible for me. I could not choose. It should be both. I had an experience of having two parallel activities in the fragrance industry and professional photography and it was not satisfying. I had to find another way that I could carry on with both passions but without sacrificing one of them. It was during my perfumery course and my trip to Asia that the idea of telling my trips in images and scents could be a way. I first travel, I take pictures, and when I am back home, I select five to nine pictures that are the base of my inspiration to create the scent.
Q: We love how you participate in art and perfume exhibits and you currently have some going on in France. Can you tell us a little more about them?
I like the idea of being an artist and an artisan. As an artist, exhibitions are key to share our practice. Unfortunately due to the sanitary situation, all exhibitions and perfumery workshops in museums that were planned in 2020 and the first semester 2021 have been cancelled. But hopefully the situation is improving and I have a few multisensory exhibitions for the second semester 2021 in Forcalquier, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. And I am currently in contact with some museums for a few more multisensory activities combining art and scents.
Q: We are featuring Impermanence in this month’s collection. It’s inspired by a collection of photographs you made in Jin Ze, a village in the suburbs of Shanghai. Can you tell us how this came to be? Can you share some of the photographs that inspired it?
I spent a month in Jin Ze in an artistic residency. This village was the realm of peacefulness. I would walk every morning by the canals that cross the village and take pictures according to my inspiration, searching the best way to express the wellness I was feeling.
Back home, I tried to express through scent this moment of wellness and gave the name of Impermanence to the collection.
Far from my bearings, I surrender to these forces that animate the space in all harmony. I feel it. Something new is happening. The invisible is at work. Change, this fruitful source of life.
“You never bathe twice in the same river” - Heraclitus
Q: Being an Art + Olfaction Awards finalist is super exciting, congrats! How did you feel about submitting Impermanence and being recognized as a finalist?
It was an amazing experience. I attended the Art & Olfaction awards ceremony in 2019 in Amsterdam and I remember saying to myself “If one day I create fragrances I’d love to send them and see what happens”. We know the rest of the story ;)
Q: You consider your fragrances to be gender-neutral. Why is that important to you?
I do not feel legitimate to say that such fragrance is more feminine and masculine. Our relation with fragrances is so personal. The gender in fragrances is an invention of marketing. For me fragrances are companion despite the gender.
Q: What do you want someone who wears your fragrance to know about you and your brand?
For me the most important is not about me and my brand it is about the sensations and emotions the person will feel. This is key to me. I hope they will feel wellness and that they will instantly project them into a possible faraway.
Q: What are you most proud of with your brand or your fragrance compositions?
What make me proud is to see people fall in love with one scent and that it become part of their lives.
Q: What’s your favorite scented memory from your childhood?
At home, nobody would wear fragrances. My first scented memory is with a friend when I was at college. We would visit a perfumery in front of our college. She was wearing at that time Shalimar by Guerlain. I love this scent because of its fantastic construction but also because of the memories associated to it.
Q: Tell us something that most people don’t know about you?
I love animals in general, and particularly horses.
Q: Outside of fragrance, what other creative outlets do you have?
Of course photography. But I would love one day to add pottery to my activities. I did some training in Jin Ze. I love drawing too.
Q: Where do you consider your happy place?
In the middle of Nature.
Q: What is your favorite word?
Q: What is your least favorite word?
Q: What turns you on?
Q: What turns you off?
Q: What’s your favorite note?
Q: What’s your least favorite note?
Difficult to tell. I love all of them.
Q: What are you smelling right now?
The scent of Nature
Q: If you could describe your brand in 3 words, what would they be?
Photographer, Perfumer, Traveler
Q: What’s next for you?
Another trip. I think I’ll cry when I put my feet in a plane again…
Q: Is there anything else you want our readers (or us) to know?
I hope they’ll enjoy the ride.
Want to smell Impermanence? We featured it in our July 2021 Collection, Let's Play. Subscribe by July 15th to get this collection in your mailbox!
Follow Christèle Jacquemin on Instagram!
Photo credits: Christele Jacquemin
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