Words by Farouk Chekoufi for Candid Magazine
Established in 1999, MiN New York is a luxury brand based out of New York City. Celebrating the art of living with a focus on quality and artisanship, internationally renowned haute perfumery and apothecary serve as a show room with the curated, evolving gallery of lifestyle from a discerning point of view. MiN New York stands for the illustrious 'New York minute' and we explore moments, fast and slow, because time is an allusion in New York City.
MiN fragrances have become one of the most-wanted, luxury niche brands in the world; did you strategically plan this major success?
I believe that true luxury is based on an actual tangible quality of materials and workmanship. The fragrance industry is largely filled with marketing stories where, in many cases, the time spent on creating the stories far exceeded the time spent creating the actual product. I felt that by focusing on creating the magic inside the bottle, it would deliver genuine excitement and interest in MiN New York.
How many points of sale do you have?
I am committed to holding the exclusivity of MiN New York tightly. Each fragrance is produced only one time per year for the entire globe. On the side of each bottle, there is a unique number that will indicate the actual bottle number, total batch size, and the year it was produced. The materials that are use in MiN New York fragrances are quite unique and are also quite limited in our ability to acquire them. A MiN client has zero interest in smelling their favorite sent all over the place. Exclusivity and scarcity must go hand-in-hand.
How did you create the packaging and classic, luxury bottles?
The packaging was a labour of love and is quite difficult to produce. First and foremost, the packaging was designed to protect the fragrance oils from light as light is the enemy of perfumes formulated with a high percentage of natural raw materials. The glass is made on the same machine in France as the famous Chanel N°5 bottle in a beautiful yet very old factory known for producing the finest glass in the world. I wanted to celebrate the pour of the glass, but protect the fragrance from all four sides. So we hand screen each panel of glass to cover only the part where the fragrance is exposed, so that the liquid is protected but the light can show it through and celebrate the glass. The Closure system was also quite challenging as I wanted a magnetic closure system that functioned beautifully. The objective was to visually elevate the cap so that it appears to float off the shoulder of the bottle, yet to be strong enough so that the client can pick up the bottle from the cap and it will not come off. Our labelling treatment is to celebrate the old New York speakeasy style of labelling and indicate exactly what number bottle the client has in that year's batch of the fragrance. My goal was to create a bottle that would become iconic. I wanted it to feel incredible in the hand and, of course, in its function.
How do you design a perfume?
First I have to have a reason to create. This is the most important part and I refuse to be a participant in just creating 'more'. I believe new product creations, first and foremost, must have a real reason to be created. What is being said that is 'new?' If the answer is nothing, then it shouldn't be done in the first place. When I find something that hasn't been interpreted or an olfactive concept that keeps me awake at night, I have to see if it is possible to take what is in my mind and bring it into the physical world. Some ideas are able to be realized sooner than others, but the battle to create and innovate is where you will find me.
What makes MiN unique and what is The concept behind the brand?
Historically brands used to stand for something. Consumers could recognize the brand and know the quality level that they represented. Now it is far less a symbol of quality and a merely a logo and a price point. My objective and vision with the MiN New York brand is to create and produce the finest possible products in the old-world manner, but with a modern interpretation. It is the tension between these two key aspects that lead us on our path. When I have the opportunity to listen to clients who appreciate the work, it is the greatest luxury to me to hear them describe this happy place and make it their own.
What is your favorite luxury brand, ever?
Patel Philippe is the finest luxury brands to me. They are privately held company in an incredibly competitive industry and they are committed to producing the absolute finest handcrafted time pieces, full stop. What I respect is the tension in which they operate – leading their industry and battling against the realities of such a competitive business and yet focusing on carefully crafting the very best. They are my inspiration.
What is your vision for the brand in the next decade?
My vision is to continue developing MiN New York into a strong global, luxury brand. I would like to have a few MiN New York flagship locations in select markets around the globe. There is tremendous opportunity to take the MiN New York value system and extend it in to a broader lifestyle. The important thing to me is that long after I have left the earth, that the brand will continue to stand for something unique and special, and be celebrated as an example of honoring the work and, most importantly, respecting and serving the client.
Why all this black around you and your universe?
Black is very chic and mysterious and a very powerful color. I think that other colors take up too much visual space and asking the customer to make room in their private lives for some other color is quite assumptive. I also view myself as an outsider in the fragrance industry, which is largely filled with French and Italians. I am a New Yorker. We wear black.