Gino Percontino is the craftsman behind Añoranza, inspired by the Havana that exists only in a dream. And indeed, that’s how it exists for Gino—he has never been to the Cuban capital, though he has spent plenty of time in the Caribbean, experience that helped inspire his execution of that ethereal concept. The end result is stunning: floral and fresh, somehow reminiscent of mojitos and the salt of the sea and sensual nights spent dancing on cobblestone streets…
We wanted to hear how he did it. Gino was kind enough to give us a little of his time. Keep reading to see what he told us, including how his research for Añoranza included a little trespassing, and why it was like bottling paradise.
We talk a lot around here about good, clean fun. And normally, by good, we mean our products are exactly that—good. (We’d actually say “great,” but “great, clean fun” isn’t a saying.) Everything is crafted with integrity by world-class perfumers given the freedom to practice their olfactive art.
Of course, good can also mean doing good, and that’s what we want to talk about today. If you didn’t know, we give $5 to the International Union for Conservation of Nature for every bottle we sell. (Well, except for anything Olmsted & Vaux—we give that $5 to the equally worthy Central Park Conservancy instead.)
What does that money do? Well, this year, it helped the IUCN assess and reassess around 1,400 species (!), which means each of those species was evaluated for its overall health and the health of its habitats. This monitoring helps the IUCN determine which species are threatened or endangered, so the IUCN can take care of the plants and animals that need it. In other words, thanks to your support, the IUCN was able to make huge progress in its important (and ongoing) mission to preserve wildlife across this planet we all share.
So thank you. We couldn’t have done it without you. The IUCN couldn’t have done it without you, either. We can’t wait to bring more joy to the world in 2019.
We know fragrance—now. But not so much when we started, which is why we turned to experts like Anne Serrano-McClain and Chandler Burr, amongst others, to help us get our bearings.
And now, as we explore new realms beyond fragrance, we’ve sought out expert assistance yet again. Folks who had deep knowledge in different product categories, and who shared our beliefs and values—and of course have a good sense of humor.
Well, as luck would have it, good folks were just down the road—our fellow Austinites at Texas Beauty Labs. They know deodorant, body wash and body lotion. And as it just so happens, we’re getting into the business of making deodorant, body wash and body lotion. (More on those in a minute.)
In fact, they created the Internet’s best-selling natural deodorant, so they know a thing or three about crafting great-smelling products that are also made with integrity. And since that’s sort of our whole thing, we thought we should get to know each other better. Here’s what we’ve learned.
Perhaps you noticed this tidbit in our recent interview with perfumer Nathalie Benareau, regarding our newest fragrance, Améline: “In our palette we have this specific rose that no one else has,” she told us. This unique and exclusive ingredient is a special rose absolute that was created by our partners at Symrise, where Nathalie crafted Améline.
Suffice it to say there’s a story behind it. After the jump, we share that story…
Hello, and welcome to our first guest post on Out of the Blue. It comes from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the leading organization for identifying and protecting threatened and endangered species. We are proud to support the IUCN’s mission by donating a portion of the proceeds from every bottle of fragrance we sell, and we are also proud to welcome them to our blog with this timely post.
The paradise islands of Hawaii are famous for their beaches, volcanoes and rich biodiversity. Over 10,000 species of plants, animals and fungi are found only on these islands—nowhere else on earth—and they play a major role in generating an annual $10 billion in annual income from the tourist industry.
Hawaii’s native species are also a valued part of traditional life, where they are used for medicine, ceremonies, tools and jewelry. Despite the economic, social and environmental importance of these species, current estimates indicate that as much 50% of all species found on Hawaii are at risk of extinction.
An astonishing 83% of the 433 Hawaiian plant species listed on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ are facing a risk of extinction in the wild. Fifty-two percent of the Hawaiian plant species are classified as Critically Endangered (CR).
We’ve long been admirers of Made Safe, the country’s leading organization dedicated to helping you make informed decisions about what products to bring inside your home. In fact, we’re one of their official Supporter Brands, which is part of why we want to pass along this cool piece of news.
When we first founded our business, one of our first decisions was that we would be a values-based organization—one that always takes into account all of our stakeholders when making any decision. This means that we consider the perspective of our clients, our partners, our team, our investors and our planet, with everything we do.
This might seem like the obvious thing to do, but unfortunately it’s not a common one, as many businesses make decisions only through the narrow lens of short-term profitability. By instead considering all stakeholders, we believe we will make thoughtful and balanced decisions that will, in turn, create the best outcomes for all of our stakeholders—including, most importantly, you.
Happily, we’re not alone in adopting this approach. In fact, there is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping businesses focus on creating what many call “conscious capitalism.” That organization is B Lab, and we’re thrilled to share that we’ve just been certified by them as a B Corp.
“There is no smell like this smell from the timur pepper.”
So says a representative from Mane, our partners for our new fragrance Sandara, describing that scent’s key ingredient, Nepalese timur pepper. It’s prized for its lemony top notes, with traces of ginger, grapefruit and spice. (It is a pepper, after all.) As Sandara’s perfumer, Gino Percontino, puts it: “The heart of the fragrance is the timur pepper. It’s one of the shining stars. To me it means so much.”
But as with many star ingredients, Nepalese timur pepper isn’t easy to come by. It’s rare and therefore precious, a reminder that in ancient days, spices were as valued as gold, and just as subject to counterfeiting and fraud. (That said, the pepper is not as rare as, say, Indian sandalwood, which has been harvested to the point of near-extinction.) Mane sources it responsibly, partnering with impoverished communities in Nepal to ensure that the pepper is a critical source of income not just for the women who live and work there now, but for generations to come.
Welcome to the latest in our series of interviews with people we admire. Kevin Fink is one of those people. He’s the man behind Emmer & Rye, one of the best restaurants in our hometown of Austin, Texas, if not the country. (Just ask Bon Appetit or Food & Wine or any number of publications singing its praises.)
What makes it so good? Much of it comes from Kevin’s mindful approach to food, which he honed at such iconic spots as Noma and The French Laundry. Everything he does he does with purpose, whether it’s exclusively using whole animals or buying heritage grains. These things ensure the food tastes better, sure, but they’re also the right thing to do—things that support the community, reduce waste, foster relationships with farmers and growers. We aim for a similar approach with our fragrances and candles, and that’s why we asked Kevin to host a special scent dinner when we launched last year.
We caught up with Kevin recently, and he was as busy as ever. He and his wife had their first child, a baby boy, this fall. And soon, he will open Henbit, a restaurant that brings the same mindful approach to food as Emmer & Rye, but for a more casual diner. (It will open at Fareground, an upcoming marketplace in downtown Austin.) As you might expect, Fink is deeply thoughtful and considerate, precise with how he speaks, occasionally cutting himself off mid-sentence to layer on a new idea, as if hurrying to match the pace of his own thoughts. We just tried our best to keep up.
In this series, we introduce our partner organizations, and illustrate how your support has had a real-world impact. Up first: The IUCN, whose highly regarded Red List is the world’s most authoritative database of species, and the threat level those species are facing.