For the 1st anniversary of Chemist in the Bottle, founder of Quality Perfumeries in Poland, Stanisława Missala agreed to answer my questions for an interview. It’s thanks to her boutiques and passion for perfume that I discovered the mysterious world of niche fragrances last year.
How was the idea of establishing a niche perfumery born?
When I was opening my first niche perfume boutique I knew that I wanted to offer only the best products to my clients. That’s why I named my perfumery Quality. Of course at the time it was formed, and that was over 22 years ago, “quality” in Poland had a slightly different meaning. Back then the definition of this term was hiding so-called selective brands, commonly recognized, that’s why I built my first offer with them. The world changes rapidly and the brands change too. Those most popular ones not always change according to Quality mission, that’s why the offer of my perfumeries evolved in a direction of even more exclusive, luxurious, top quality products. They’re popularly known as niche but I have my own, different name for them. For me they’re genuine, real.
What was the most difficult at the beginning: searching for a place, chosing brands or maybe gaining the interest of potential clients?
I didn’t search for a place for my first perfumery, I just had one built at the location of Bemowo [a district of Warsaw]. Then after a few years, along with the development of the business I started looking for a localization for my next perfumery, somewhere in the Warsaw city center. My choice was the Marriott Hotel, which was a synonym of luxury in those [past] times. Choosing brands never was a problem because, as I mentioned, I always knew that I wanted only the best products for my clients. That’s why I was forming an offer for my perfumeries exclusively with such articles. Clients? From the very beginning we have visitors who are similar to us, sensitive, art and beauty loving. I think that what they value in our perfumeries is the fact that everything we do, we do it with our hearts. For us as a niche family business not only love for art, for everything beautiful, sincere and real is helpful but also that we feel the same – it allows us to make decisions together. In result we have brands suitable for Quality and products that our clients love and come back for them.
What was the first perfume house you decided to collaborate with?
From the beginning I knew I wanted only the best things for my clients, so I aimed high. Many years ago when I saw Amouage in London Harrods I just knew it was the brand I wanted to have in my perfumeries. I fell in love with the fragrance but the history of the house created by Oman sheik was also captivating. His dream was to remind the world about Arabian perfumery art and to create a perfume that would knock all the world out. On the journey to realization of his dream, he didn’t recognize any limitations, also in case of the costs of creating Amouage scents. I found that vision charming and I remember I though: “that’s the perfume house we should start with.” And we did it!
Is it hard to reach to the perfume brands, their representatives or distributors?
No, it’s not, but it’s easy to explain: we’ve got a high position abroad, we’re being seen and treated as experts. We’re the oldest perfumery in Poland and from the start we promote only the most luxurious, high-end products. That pays up with recognition abroad and negotiations with the houses we’re interested in are easier then. On the other hand, we respect our clients and we’re very demanding partners for the brands we wish to cooperate.
How did that happen that the perfumery turned into a family business?
From the beginning my husband and I were starting our trips abroad with visiting the best perfumeries. Our two sons, who were teenagers back then, were always with us. At the beginning they weren’t really happy, on the contrary, they showed their dissatisfaction and tiredness J but after some time they started getting used to it and finally they began to like those visits and the climate accompanying them. When they graduated and started their families, their wives and them started to bring their own new ideas and a lot of energy to the business. It is like that today too.
Did that happen in previous years of Quality Perfumeries that there was a perfume house that didn’t want its products to be offered at Quality?
With a real pride I can say that in the entire history of my perfumeries it didn’t happen – and it’s worth to mention here that we move around the most prestigious houses. To be 100% exact, owner of one of the brands was worried about his competition, that was already available at our perfume shelves.
Vice versa, have you ever experienced a situation when a brand wanted to appear with their products at Quality and you refused? What was the reason of saying “no”?
Of course, we often refuse brands when their products don’t fulfill our standards. In last few years niche became fashionable, many new brands are created, but only few of them bring something valuable and original. Sometimes during our conversation it turns out that our philosophies go in different directions. For example, a situation when a brand considers their “niche” as a temporary strategy, which then leads to chain stores and duty-free zones.
This is only first part. I’ve got another bunch of questions and interesting answers to show you. Come back on Wednesday to read the rest of the interview with Stanisława Missala. I hope you enjoyed reading about perfume as an art and as a business from the Polish point of view.