Until now, a bespoke fragrance was either created at the hands of the untrained consumer through haphazardous mixing of essential oils, or at the cost of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, through the craftsmanship of a trained perfumer. One delivered unpredictable results, the other was an investment not feasible for every pocket, and filtered through a singular personal aesthetic.
NoOrdinaryScent is looking to offer made-to-order scents for all through the power of technology. The company was created in 2019 by Sandra Kinnmark, whose resumé includes co-founding peer-to-peer delivery service Sendoo and being Head of Marketing at tech start-up DigiExam, and Amelie Saltin Thor, former European Visual Manager at Gap and COO of furniture-on-demand company Beleco. Prior to NoOrdinaryScent, Kinnmark had always used the power of scent to biohack her life, but it wasn’t until her time at start-up generator Antler that she realized its potential for consumer audiences. Angel investors helped fund the early stages of the company, and despite launching shortly before the outbreak of the pandemic, the company has seen steady growth throughout. NoOrdinaryScent currently ships to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, and is looking to expand their operations internationally in the near future.
As a D2C and B2B company, it allows users to upload three images they would like materialized in olfactory form to its Scent Creator, an AI software that detects specific tags in the images. The privacy of customers’ requests are ensured through the setup of the program, meaning only the AI sees the original image. The analysis incorporates factors such as the activities in the images, mood, season, etc. It then matches them with a combination of in-house developed accords and scent notes, all sourced from the perfumery capital of Grasse. Said perfume accords are constantly under development. “We’re a modern perfume house. We don’t want to have the same blends for years on end because that is not what is going to make us relevant,” Thor states, adding that the company also has an external software where every fragrance composition is calculated for allergen disclosure and safety. The entirely AI-generated formula is then made and shipped in 5-7 days. At the cost of 650SEK (approximately $74) for a 30ml bottle, it’s on-par with mass-produced, mid- to high-end range pricing, but completely personal.
Thor describes their customer base for their D2C side as broad, ranging from AI enthusiasts to creative types, with generous orders coming in from their B2B business, which includes candles and room scents among other bespoke requests. “It’s not only about scents, but personalization and co-creation: taking an old traditional product such as perfume and meeting that with next-generation tech. We are also in the business of offering people an experience, creating new scented memories, and challenging people to be more open to the world of scent,” she explains. Having experienced the velvet ropes of the industry firsthand, Kinnmark and Thor are also hoping to democratize fragrance. “Today, it's the consumer saying what they want, and companies need to adapt to that. It is a dynamic, and more interesting, way of working. We’re putting the power of perfume memories in your hands,” Thor comments.
One of the most challenging parts of creating fragrance is translating mental concepts into physical scents, and often the stumbling block is on the vocabulary front. Terms such as “musky,” “woody,” “floral” can take on different meanings for different noses, and when it comes to capturing a specific memory or place, only the person who was there can truly know the smell. This is where AI becomes the great facilitator, an unbiased authority in the scent selection process. It also helps introduce (or reintroduce) customers to notes they may have otherwise rejected due to past experiences or combinations. “It's an ‘aha’ moment for people when they realize that you don't need to focus so much on just one ingredient. Instead, you have the story and we enable you to have something concrete around your memory,” Thor adds.
Above all, NoOrdinaryScent places an emphasis on community-building through the universal powers of scent. Ultimately it boils down to getting closer to the end consumer via a genuine experience through means of another medium, be it phygital retail, DTC brands, or technology, Thor emphasizes. “What we’re offering every customer is to be a part of our journey and community. Being part of that community, we’ll take care of you,” she says. “That’s the passion that we have: more perfume to the people.”
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