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22 December 2020
Alumni Entrepreneurs

Thomas Espinasse

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What is your educational background?

I have done a two-year course at polytechnics in Grenoble. Then I entered ISIPCA, where I stayed for three years. I was a dream since I was 14.

 

What is your professional background after ISIPCA?

I directly created a company called ScenTree with one of my friends that I met during ISIPCA. It is a simplified corporation standing for the creation of a graphic and informative platform around perfumery ingredients. This project widely extended our professional network and taught us many things around perfumery raw materials. This knowledge really helped me right after…

Just after quitting ScenTree, I was called by an independent perfumer, Stéphanie Bakouche, who hired me as a trainee perfumer for a few months. Of course, I accepted and had the opportunity to learn a strict and rigorous creation method.

Once this apprenticeship was over, I decided to turn into an independent junior perfumer, creating a bespoke perfume creation concept : Mon Parfum Unique. This is about creating unique perfumes, dedicated to people that want one, to their personality, tastes and past life. I wish to make bespoke perfumes affordable for anyone. By affording the creation of a dedicated perfume formula, my clients can then buy a unique flask for the price of a mainstream perfume, buyable at Sephora for example. This is what I do nowadays, with one leitmotiv in mind : Tell me about you, I will create your unique perfume.

 

How did you get the idea for this project and how did you set it up?

I always loved to socialize. I believe this is the best way to get happy in life. Above all, I have always been really observative of people’s behavior and smell. Down the streets, I sometimes play the game of smelling people’s sillage, trying to guess their personality and life. With Mon Parfum Unique, I wanted to turn things upside down, creating perfumes according to my clients personnality. The idea is to turn their words into smell.

I chose to register as self-employed and to build a nice website describing what I am offering. I took profit of these hard pandemic times to build this business. We get time to work during those periods… I had to buy fine flasks, originally designed boxes and other basic elements. I also could take good profit of my network for this business : Stéphanie Bakouche has opened her laboratory doors for my creations. I am using her ingredients palet.

 

What has been the greatest challenge you have overcome in your entrepreneurial adventure? What barriers did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

Difficulties are more concerning ScenTree. It is not always easy to lead a B2B business just being out of studies. Many companies weren’t interested in the sponsorships we were offering, and even less when COVID arrived. But we wanted to launch this business anyway, as this project was really important to us. Anyway, we managed to get known thanks to this project and to share our passion to a vast community of people.

 

What were the key moments that contributed to the success of this project?

For Mon Parfum Unique, the live sessions and instagram communications we made thanks to perfume-specialized influencers really helped me gather some clients. Communication is key when it comes to launching a project. Famous people are people we talk about. You have to get influent people talking about you if you want to succeed. If not, it is more difficult. For a B2C business, mouth to ear also works very well. You have to ask friends and family to share around your project with their relatives to spread the info. These moments came up during the launching of my project. It was really nice to feel supported.

 

What advice would you give to successfully manage the creation of a business?

First, you mustn’t hesitate to take the plunge into your project. We sometimes are afraid to fail, but it is already very respectable to dare doing it, even if the project does not skyrocket. Then, if this project is the result of a team work, you have to be certain to hang out well with your colleagues and to share a long term vision and way of working. If not, there is no need to launch the business. Team work requires compromises and not to only think about one’s own interest. If one of your colleagues is in trouble, you have to understand and help him. For me, this is basic coaching and way of working as a team.

It is also important to prepare the ground well. You can’t launch a business in a few days. You have to make market studies, to define your target and to make a business plan, to predict if your business will able you to make money.

Once launched, it is important to communicate as much as possible around the project, making it known both by companies and people. People have to get talking about you. Social networks are a good start for that nowadays. Contacting journalists and influent people of your area can be interesting too.

Eventually, don’t be surprised if your clients have many questions to ask. You have to take them by the hand to explain them your project. If they are wondering things, it may be because they are interested in your business. Therefore, don’t react haughtily in front of them. Client is king.

 

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