Scents of mystery
Whether bottled in a bespoke glass vessel or infused into a handpoured candle, the heady aroma of Curionoir’s scents are turning heads from Ponsonby to Paris
Tiffany Jeans of Curionoir reveals the secrets of her success
Adistinct air of theatre surrounds local fragrance brand Curionoir. From oxblood velvet drapes shielding its Ponsonby store’s interior from the street, to dreamy, atmospheric films that accompany individual scents, everything about this luxe perfume boutique is intoxicating. Creator Tiffany Jeans draws back the curtain to reveal the secrets to her success.
How did Curionoir come about?
The name comes from when I used to feed my son (who is now 10) during the night, then not be able to go back to sleep. I was making hand-cast wax curios to scent the night – hence ‘noir’. I would make my fragrances, study and sculpt the moulds for the wax.
Did you have any fragrance experience prior to this?
Perfumery to me is everywhere so I believe everyone has an experience. I’ve done many courses in different parts of the world and still work with wonderful perfumers, some masters, based in France and Italy, who give advice and perspective. I find working with those who have generations of knowledge behind them of priceless value.
Why is scent so important to you?
Not only can scent reflect a certain mood or feeling, it can help to influence one’s character and atmosphere. Our Black Spice candle is wonderful during December, as the clove, cinnamon and tea leaves are invigorating and conjure memories of a spice-filled festive season. Feather My Tears is so fresh during the summer months, with notes of water lily, lily of the valley and orchid. Scent adds another layer, which can help with one’s memory of an event, due to the olfactory bulb [the neural structure that governs our sense of smell] having such a direct link to the brain. We have wonderful brides and grooms choosing fragrances and candles for their special days, not only for themselves, but for their family and friends to experience when getting ready, celebrating or as gifts.
How pivotal is your Māori heritage to your business?
It is important in every facet of my life. Curionoir wouldn’t be what it is without my heritage. I’ve been surrounded by very clever craftsmen and women throughout
my life and watching and learning all they were doing was such a taonga – a gift – which we in turn give to our customers who can enjoy it themselves or pass it on to others. Treasured gifts that have taken a lot of dedication are some of the most thoughtful.
Your bottles are works of art.
For me, the fragrance creation is a story in itself and the vessel should have just as much care and appreciation. Applying fragrance with glass is a wonderful feeling. These pieces [created by Monmouth Glass] are what we call our heirloom pieces. Throughout history, handblown glass bottles have been used, but this has become a dying art. We are bringing back this idea of having functional pieces of art.
How much time do you spend developing a new perfume?
Developing can take a few weeks to a couple of years. It all depends on the feeling I am happy with.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
First of all, just follow your passion. I would suggest finding some wonderful, like-minded people to surround yourself with. And having a great accountant can do wonders.
Are there any other local female entrepreneurs you admire?
Definitely my two good friends Kristine Crabb and Damaris Coulter. Kristine is the designer and owner of Miss Crabb. She has been an inspiration since Curionoir first started. And before that, Damaris [co-owner of Auckland restaurant Coco’s Cantina], who is launching The Realness, a website dedicated to owner-operated restaurants and cafes around the world. She is a force, with the most amazing ideas!
You’ve recently been to London with your products. Where to next for the company?
We launch with The Conran Shop in the UK and Paris this month and other retailers in Europe, the US and Canada in the coming weeks. We have many plans • for 2019 and 2020 so watch this space!