Special Newsletter: Indie Brands

Indie and Fragrance: a business partnership with sillage

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Indie and Fragrance: a business partnership with sillage
Niche, startup, and independent brands are proliferating in beauty and fragrance alike. Here Cosmetics Design takes a look at several indie fragrance brands with proven or probable longevity in the market.

Indie fragrance is not simply a product of the day. Independent perfumers and brands have always been part of the business. Though now that all things indie and niche are particularly popular with consumers, established indie fragrance brands are more apparent.

Something old

French indie brand Diptyque, for instance, has been making personal fragrance for 50 years; and the brand is currently showcasing its many scents at a popup shop in New York City (through Saturday, May 19). Notably, it was at an event just last month at the Diptyque popup shop when Linda G Levy, president of The Fragrance Foundation, declared that this is indie’s moment in the fragrance industry. (Read more about that event, hosted by Coveteur, here on Cosmetics Design​.)

And Caswell-Massey, founded in 1792 and perhaps the consummate indie fragrance from the States, recently rebranded and relaunched an entire portfolio of scents, including simpler legacy scents such as almond, sandalwood, and verbena. (Read more about the brand’s relaunch here on Cosmetics Design​.)

Something new

The larger indie beauty movement as well as consumer interest in bespoke products in general have inspired many fragrance entrepreneurs to build their own brands in recent years.

Pour le Monde, a 100% natural fragrance brand, came on to the scene in 2013 and sells a selection of just three scents that are all natural, vegan, cruelty-free, and a portion of sales help support charity. Pour le Monde is the only fair-trade certified B Corp fragrance company, a key point of differentiation in a marketplace where savvy consumers are looking for brands that have both products and practices of value.

Ojai Wild, another newer indie fragrance maker, specializes in eau de colognes made with organic botanical ingredients. This brand’s portfolio of scents is also fairly small, comprising White Sage Leaves, Juniper Berry, Redwood Leaves, and Pink Peppercorn. (Read about this brand’s local ingredient sourcing strategy​.)

Of course not all indie fragrance is natural, but the market for natural fragrances in fine fragrance through to personal care is growing—an eventuality that entrepreneur Miriam Vareldzis championed with the recent launch of her fragrance supply company Palette Naturals.  Since the company came on the scene in October of 2017, she has seen a steady stream of interest from brands and formulators of every ilk. Vareldzis tells Cosmetics Design that she’s shipped the Palette Naturals sample kit to (prospective) customers in nearly 10 countries now. And she’s currently working to expand upon her company's  collection of fragrance accords. (Learn more about Palette Naturals here on Cosmetics Design​.)

Something borrowed

Fragrance is an inspired venture. Where a perfumer draws inspiration from varies widely, but there are some standard sources such as food and the natural environment. Kelly Jones takes inspiration from wines and spirits. She shared the story behind her indie fragrance business late last year in this Indie Beauty Profile​.

An interesting twist in the indie brand movement (in and beyond fragrance) has legacy ingredient makers, specialty chemical companies, and heritage corporations not only borrowing innovations from but also supporting, investing in, and building niche brands. (Read, Who’s disrupting beauty now?​ and DSM eager to partner with indie beauty brands​ to learn more.)

In March, Symrise invested in Phlur, an emerging fragrance brand that it had been working closely with for some time. “We’re thrilled to be taking this next step in our relationship with Symrise, one that provides further alignment and validation of our model, as well as the capital investment to continue on the aggressive path we’ve laid out,” ​Eric Korman, the brand’s founder told the press at the time. (Read more about that deal here on Cosmetics Design​.)



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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