Interview with Alexandra Roos, Co-founder of the Niche Fragrance Brand Roos & Roos

Chantal, the mother, and Alexandra, the daughter – different and undoubtedly complementary. Chantal, a renowned business leader at the helm of some of the greatest successes in designer perfumes. Alexandra, an artist and musician. In 2014, they decided to merge their passions and give life to their niche brand, Roos & Roos. It is with pleasure that we delve into Alexandra’s perfumed world through four questions.

Hello Alexandra, what inspired you to create a niche fragrance story with Chantal?

I’ve been immersed in the world of fragrance since childhood, as my mother worked in the perfume industry. I vividly remember smelling absolutely wonderful fragrances from small lab samples she brought home. When developing perfumes, you end up with thousands of lab samples. I’ve often wondered if I was born in a bottle of “Opium”; I was a young child when my mother launched that Yves Saint Laurent perfume.

My journey took a completely different path as I pursued music for many years. Then, during a time when niche perfumery allowed for creating one’s own brand, I suggested to my mother that we create Roos & Roos together. Previously, it wasn’t something we had considered. I recall brands like L’Artisan Parfumeur or Annick Goutal, but major players were mostly large corporations. A lot of individuals, like the admired Frédéric Malle, entered the scene.

What drove me to create our brand is the love I have for fragrance, especially niche fragrances, even though I adored dousing myself in Chanel No. 5, Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium, or Poison. My mother once gave me a Shiseido fragrance by Serge called “Féminité du Bois,” and that marked the beginning of what I would call my journey into niche perfumery.

What do you mean by “niche perfumery”?

It’s author’s perfumery. Niche perfumery is to the fragrance world what an art film is to cinema—more focused on discourse, less on marketing and celebrities. We concentrate on the narrative, emotion, and stories, much more connected to the perfumers and founders of the brand. It’s very much like author’s cuisine, with a chef expressing themselves. The spotlight is on the perfumers, and the one-on-one dialogue with them is crucial. When you speak of emotion or a story to a perfumer, it’s like being a conductor or a director of an art film.

Can you tell us about Roos & Roos creations?

I have a real soft spot for “Mentha Religiosa,” which received a Fifi Award but isn’t a bestseller. We worked with perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin after conceiving the idea of a fragrance around mint and incense, inspired by the play on words “mante religieuse,” evoking a very seductive and hypnotic woman. The perfumer blended these ingredients in a brilliant way, resulting in a unique, more niche fragrance than our others.
Our best-sellers are “A Capella” and “Nymphessence,” whose names were the starting point. The sound of a voice without instruments, quite pure, inspired the perfumer to create a fragrance around a fresh rose, capturing the beauty of a field in the morning. “Nymphessence” is a fragrance we loved creating, imagining a nymph by the river, resulting in a floral, fruity, and woody perfume. These moments of creation are always beautiful.
During the lockdown, surrounded by nature in the countryside, I approached perfumer Dominique Ropion to imagine a nettle fragrance. We had a lot of fun, leading to the creation of a collection, “Les Simples,” paying homage to the monks’ gardens, more focused on eco-responsibility and naturalness. This collection has been very successful in northern countries, more advanced in sustainable development than France. This year, we were delighted to receive another Fifi Award for “Malamata,” a surprising fragrance with a green start, freshly cut grass, a floral patchouli heart, and a warm, sensual base, in contrast, because nettles burn!

What are the three key qualities to join Roos & Roos?

Passion is the first essential quality! If you love leather, you should join Hermès. To work for Roos & Roos, you must have a deep interest in fragrance. Beyond luxury, you need to choose your medium and genuinely love perfume to work with us. If you don’t love perfume, it’s challenging to find the words and the emotion, to be as close as possible to your subject. I love perfume! In an entrepreneur’s life, not everything is perfect; there are many issues to solve, so it’s essential to genuinely love your subject.

The other fundamental quality is agility! We are a small company, and joining us means adapting with agility and determination. From marketing, we spill over into communication, retail, merchandising; the mission is broader than in a large company. More subjects in the basket. Agility in life is important to reinvent yourself, to be alert, to want to learn.

The last indispensable quality is respect! It’s crucial, both for the team you work with and for nature. The “Les Simples” collection made us grow in responsibility. We developed a bottle with lightweight glass, a cap made of wood and cork, and 100% vegan fragrances. We also considered eco-responsibility in our previous collections. Luxury can take many forms, whether opulent or minimal, and can express itself consciously with respect for the planet.

Written by Aurélie Navez

Aurélie Navez

Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing Consultant in the Luxury Perfumes and Beauty sector