Startup: Young perfume brand Versatile banks on skincare

Coralie Frébourg does not hesitate to go against the clichés surrounding the perfume industry. The brand’s blacklist includes elitist prices, gender divides, standardized advertizing, copied launches, and embellished speeches. “We will never mention olfactory families, so as not to bias your preferences”, reads the brand’s website.

“Transparency and honesty”

Versatile asserts that “naturalness is not necessarily ecoresponsible or better for you”. The vegan label does not prevent the use of synthetic alternatives, which are sometimes better for the planet. The brand does not seek to proclaim itself “perfect”, but claims optimized products combined with “a spontaneous, transparent, educational, honest approach”. In its communications, it resolutely avoids stereotypes like “light complexions, slender silhouettes, and for men, extra square jaw and V-shaped torso”.

This clear-cut approach is accompanied by concrete choices. It is worth noting that the website reveals the whole perfume formulas, without omitting any synthetic ingredients. The packaging is minimalist. Each component is traced and the proportion of plastic in the packaging is quantified (less than 3 g per perfume bottle). The materials are selected on the basis of their recyclability. Production takes place mainly in France and neighbouring European countries. Everything is detailed online.

The give-back commitment is clearly quantified: 3% of profits are donated to the French association Ruban Rose, in aid of breast cancer research.

A rapid growth

Launched in January 2021 with 20,000 euros of capital stock, the company very quickly achieved great results. It generated net sales of EUR 860,000 in two years and is forecasting a sales volume of EUR 1.7 million by the end of 2024. A graduate of the Parisian École Supérieure du Parfum, Coralie Frébourg was supported in this venture by Pierre Nardozi, a digital expert who quickly joined the company as a partner. Versatile announced it had raised its first funds in 2022.

Today, the fragrances are distributed in more than 250 points of sale, including the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and Champs Elysées department stores in Paris, but also in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific countries. As soon as 2023, it was present at three shows: Esxence, Pitti, Cosmoprof Asia.

In total, in April 2024, over 50,000 fragrances were sold (15% online and 85% in physical outlets). The unit price is set at 59 euros. “Instinctively, we had targeted the 25-30 age group, but in the end, our theme, namely food, is universal. And the relaxed tone appeals to most people”, notes Coralie Frébourg. “Our global bestseller is Croissant Café, whose name is immediately evocative around the world. Then there is God bless Cola, our latest launch, a hyper-addictive popcorn and Coke fragrance which evokes a movie experience.”

In line with the new uses of perfume

The fragrances have instinctive names, which correspond to as many moods and are fully in line with the state of mind of the younger generations, encouraging everyone to follow their moods and assume their craving for discovery. The descriptions are precise and easy to understand, especially online. For example, Croissant Café is a neo-tonka that illustrates a tasty moment, “le p’tit déj” (French breakfast).

The tone is set. One fragrance for every situation: Culot Thé, a neo-jasmine, corresponds to “tea time”, Accrodisiac is a neo-rose that evokes a “night of sex”, Gueule de Bois a neo-sandalwood for a “hangover”, Dimanche Flemme a cocooning neo-musk… And the following complete the series: Rital Date, a neo-lemon for a “date”, Sea, Sud & Sun a neo-neroli for an aperitif atmosphere, and God bless Cola, a neo-vanilla for an “anti diet”. Since its inception, Versatile has remained loyal to the perfume design studio Flair, which composed all the fragrances.

The choice of bottle/roll-on is linked to the commitment to a 100% natural oil base (composed of sweet almond and wheat oils). The perfume extracts are concentrated between 30% and 38%. The 15-ml bottles last 4 to 6 months, for one or two applications a day. The mantra “small but mighty” is part of the brand’s culture.

Body care in the spirit of “cosmetofood”

At the end of April 2024, Versatile launched three “mixed, vegan, efficient, clean, and made-in-France” skincare products in a pop-up store decorated like a mini-market. In this Super (Skin) Market, the products are presented in simple packaging, in cardboard boxes decorated with fresh colours, between cosmetic and ‘food’ codes.

Eighteen months were needed to develop this line, in partnership with LDA Global Cosmetics, Altercosméto, SHP Savonnerie de Haute-Provence, Comelli Factory (packaging), Darmon étiquette, and the Flair studio.

“Versatile, which already offered alcohol-free skincare fragrances, is a legitimate player in the cosmetics market. We did not just want to make derivative products, using our fragrances to make other versions of them, we actually aimed to launch a real skincare regime”, explains Coralie Frébourg. “Again, we were inspired by food, because this concept speaks to everyone. We started with essential cooking ingredients – butter, oil, and cream – and referred to recipes: for example, our vinaigrette oil contains actives such as carrots, fennel, and celery, as these are raw vegetables that we season this way. For our Crème entière, we chose cucumber and spinach”. This new phase reflects the brand’s fundamentals: transparency, commitment, and “foody” pleasures. Ever the hedonist, this time Versatile Paris is exploring new taste territories by introducing fresh vegetables that reflect the concept of “cosmetofood”.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top