Bhavika and Maurice
Can you tell us about how you are and your history: Has smell been a large part of your life?
Bhavika:I was born in England and lived there until the age of 8. I lived in a town that was full of different smells because it was a mix of an industrial town on the edges of a lot of hills and greenery. I also come from an Indian household so my house always had some kind of spices and incense in the air. From an early age, it was a way for me to identify with the mix of cultures that I grew up in. The scents of spices and incense are what I identified with my Indian culture and everything outside was a reminder of the English greenery and the smell of old textile factories. At the age of 8, my family moved to South Florida. This was a huge change but the familiar scents at home made the outside world easier to adjust to. A few years ago Maurice and I wandered into a store looking for a unique scent. The person we spoke to told us that we wouldn’t find that here and that we would need to try niche fragrances. He gave us a list of 3 fragrances we should try. We went and tried them and this is where we discovered the world of niche perfumery. It opened up a whole other world where fragrances were not just about how you smell but more about how you feel, and where it can take you. This was inspirational and became a passion and it only made sense to share our passion with others.
Maurice: I was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I grew up surrounded by the outdoors and the beach a few minutes away. I always found myself outdoors as I had one grandfather who was a fisherman and another that was a farmer. I was always around different smells from the farm to the sea. To this day the scents of Montego Bay remain in my memory – from the salty beachy waters, to the eclectic scents of the farm. Outside of that from a very young age, I always looked up to my father. Looking back I emulated him from the way he dressed to the way he always got ready in the morning. I always watched his routine and I distinctly remember the smell of his shaving cream and aftershave as he was getting ready in the morning. He was a tailor and I remember the smells of the fabrics around the house, and the beeswax he used to strengthen the tread. I may not have realized then but I was always infatuated with these different smells and I think now that’s what makes me appreciate perfumery the way I do. I can smell a certain fragrance and it can transport me back in time to a place where I grew up. That uniqueness of our olfactive sense is what draws me to this world because it’s so powerful.
When did the idea for Osme begin?
B: It began around 5 years ago. Both Maurice and I were such avid collectors of fragrances. We’d been to perfumeries in New York and London where we were given the opportunity to explore scents in a new way. To be able to walk into a store and browse for scents the way you do in clothing boutiques was amazing. Scents are such a personal thing, and letting people experience an olfactory journey like this was not available in the city we spent so much of our formative years. And we wanted to bring that experience to Miami, because for a city as unique as Miami, this new concept and way of smelling would be a perfect fit.
What was your planning process like can you explain the concept development process?
We both majored in business in college. So naturally, we started by putting together a business plan. As much as we were prepared with our degree, putting something together which was so personal was an interesting process. Finding financial detail about the niche industry wasn’t very easy so that took a long time with reading and research. From the beginning, we knew we wanted to be in Wynwood just because it was a perfect fit for what we wanted to do. A new and upcoming neighborhood with a new business concept was the perfect match. We then started identifying perfume houses we wanted to bring in. It was important to us that we brought in a range of brands that would give our diverse culture a diverse mix of houses, and of course prices. In building out the concept of the store, we wanted it to be an olfactory experience. We wanted the store to be inviting, to mimic the flavor of the neighborhood, which is where we came up with the concept of Liquid Art. We frame the fragrances as Liquid Art, and we want our store to be a gallery of fragrances where people can take their time to discover and explore unique scents that can make them experience something they might never have experienced before. The sense of smell is something many of us take for granted, and we don’t realize the power of scent. When people explore our store, we want to remind people of the importance and influence that smells can have on our lives.
What is the vision that you set out to create with the apothecary?
Osme’s vision is to become the destination perfumery and apothecary for all fragrance lovers in South Florida. Our vision is not to just sell perfumes, but to promote new thinking and create followers of niche perfumery. The store creates interactive learning and shopping experience for niche perfume lovers, and neophytes to the industry with the all-inclusive set of product lines from fragrances, to scented decor, to apothecary products.
We live in Florida and when we wanted to check out new and exciting fragrances we’d have to travel to other cities (NYC, San Francisco, London, etc). And in a city as big and diverse as Miami, we didn’t have a legit perfumery. So we wanted to open a store that would cater to the locals who love this hobby as well as for the newbies to discover a new world of perfume.
What can you say about the fragrance culture in Florida?
The fragrance culture is thirsty for new and exciting smells with people from all over the world moving to Miami they bring with them their love of perfume. The culture at the same time is very young, and they haven’t experienced so many unique scents. We want them to get away from the typical scents that have been marketed in mainstream perfumery and get them to understand that scents should be worn as an extension of one’s personality – and that you can wear out of the box scents to make them more of a personal experience – and that the scent is more about you, your personality, and how you want to feel.
Can you tell us about the type of brands that you carry in the shop and what you look for in a brand?
We carry a wide arrange of brands from all around the world. We have houses from Italy (Xerjoff, Nobile 1942) that carry a classy sensibility to them. The word luxurious and Amouage go hand in hand, and the perfumes embody the Middle Eastern style of perfume creation. The French houses, of course, exemplify perfume artistry and creativity. Brands like MDCI create perfumes in the classic sense, and then you have houses like Etat Libre D’Orange that make equally amazing scents by being more cutting edge and cheeky in their creations. The brands from the US also have an interesting take. Imaginary Authors' scents tell a story, and when you wear the perfume you are a catalyst for telling that story. One of the greatest things about picking these brands/houses is that you get to interact with the creators themselves – and that is so invaluable. Dealing with the creators directly and seeing what they represent and what they are doing for the industry plays a huge role in our decisions. We also look for balance and like to bring in scents that are in unique and out of the box that is of high quality. These brands epitomize what the niche perfume industry is all about.
Can you tell us more about what your vision of buying fragrance?
We think of fragrance as an accessory. Just like how a dress can make a woman feel sexy and powerful and a suit can make a man feel strong and in charge – perfume can do the same thing. Buying a fragrance should be like shopping for clothes – it's not a one scent fits all type of deal. You have to try it on – see how the scent sits with you, interacts with you. And it’s a personal individual experience. Buying a scent should not be about stores bombarding you with the latest scent. It’s about going through a journey in a fitting room to find which ones work best for you.
How do you think scent affects our lives?
Scent is an extension of one’s personality. It’s a vehicle for a person to express yourself, and for the person, you are trying to communicate with you what you think of yourself and project how you feel. It can leave an impression and evoke an emotion. The olfactive sense is one of the senses most connected to your memories. We’ve had a lot of people come into the store and when they smell something to say “it reminds me of this time…” or “it reminds me of this person”. So it’s the most connected sense to your memories. And memories can bring you back to how you felt at a certain time. So it can impact your mood and your feelings. It’s more powerful than a lot of our other senses.
Can you imagine a world without perfume?
No, only because what perfume does is so natural. Perfumes bottle what attracts us, and pleases us. Even people have their own natural scent. The world itself is perfumed.
Where is Osme located and why that area?
Osme is located in Miami, in a neighborhood called Wynwood. Wynwood is a dynamic and upcoming neighborhood, filled with creative minds where art, fashion, and food combine. The eclectic neighborhood is a perfect fit for our unique store. The area is filled with local startups with different concepts – and Osme is just one of the few.
What do you see for the future the fragrance industry and for cosmetic/fragrance retail?
We think the future of the industry is bright because of all the niche and artisan houses that are gaining notice. The millennial generation is always looking for the next new and is shying away from the commercial side of things – this is where the industry will grow and evolve. Because of this change, the niche industry is finding relevance. Perfumes have been a part of the culture for a very long time in other cities around the world – from Paris to Rome, to the Middle East. It’s now becoming even more relevant in the states, and this is where there is a huge untapped opportunity.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
We’ve only been open for a few months, but the feedback that we received from the customers about our concept has been beyond our imagination. We know the products will get the compliments because of the artistry behind the liquid art. But what’s endeared us more than anything is when people come into our store and say this was a great experience or that they learned something new – that’s the biggest compliment they could give us. Secondly, as mentioned before working with the people in the industry has been a complete pleasure. We haven’t yet encountered anyone who isn’t willing to share to help us learn, or provide guidance. The warmth and openness encountered have been more than rewarding.