Online Exclusives

Just The Right Note

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | November 29, 2011

Lisa Hoffman finds success in personalized fragrance blends.

An avid traveler and billed as a modern fragrance industry pioneer, Lisa Hoffman is a “scent-savant” and passionate perfume provocateur. She also encourages consumers to “wear fragrance your way,”according to the company.

The Los Angeles-based founder of Lisa Hoffman Beauty spent years studying in Grasse, France with some of the world’s leading perfumers. Beginning with the launch of Variations, a unique fragrance concept collection designed to instantly complement a woman’s changing scent sensitivities, the brand now has a following around the world. Her latest rollout for 2012, out in February on HSN, is a line of “fragrance jewelry” comprised of trend-right earrings, pendants and bracelets featuring a round charm that encases spherical wood beads featuring a proprietary delivery system that slowly releases perfume as they are exposed to air.

According to Hoffman, her most treasured success is her family—her husband, Dustin (yes, that one) and children.She took time out of her busy schedule to correspond with Happi about the latest trends in fragrance.

Lisa Hoffman says consumers want nuanced scents at home.
Happi: What are going to be the most in-demand scents and scent stories next in candles, diffusers and sprays?

LH: I think people are looking for more complex, sophisticated scents for their homes—echoing the types of fragrances they wear. It used to be that home fragrance started and ended with citrus-inspired scents and light, watery florals. And now, people are much more interested in shaping their home environments with nuanced scents, especially for winter.
Gourmand notes such as amber, cinnamon and chocolate are a mainstay for cooler weather, because they evoke warmth, holiday and family. This fall, we launched a soy candle fragranced with our Tuscan Fig scent, which includes notes of coconut wood, fig and vanilla. It really evokes the feeling of being snuggled up by the fire.
I also see a return to heady, intoxicating florals like tuberose and gardenia. They just smell dressy, and with all the parties and get-togethers that take place in the winter, it makes sense that people would gravitate to them. In our company, there is always a spike in sales of our Tunisian Neroli fragrance during the holiday season for that very reason. I love intense florals because they feel modern but also remind us of the classic perfumes. There’s that built-in glamour.

Happi: What are the hottest ingredients in home fragrance products right now?
LH: I believe it’s less about hot ingredients and more about creating unexpected ways to experience fragrance. People want the fragrance in their products—everything from candles to lotions—to be personal, evocative and unique.
I always bear in mind that women should have the freedom to experience fragrance in their own personal way when I’m developing my products.
If you love a fragrance but feel like you don’t want to wear it, you can have it waft through the air by lighting a candle. You can also layer fragrance to make it uniquely yours or have it delivered in innovative ways. For example, we created a leather mouse pad that has fine fragrance stored inside the wrist resting pad, so when you use the mouse, little hits of fragrance are deposited on your wrist.
Lisa Hoffman fragrance beads are new for Winter 2011.

Unexpected scent combinations will also be in demand, because they feel more individualized. Recently, I was in Grasse, France, and made a cologne for my husband and sons that had pear as top note, with woody and spicy notes underneath. It was a lovely mix, but also had an intriguing complexity. I always try to re-orchestrate notes to create something that feels really modern, but also conjures up something timeless.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the consumers’ desire to neutralize existing smells in their environment and not just mask household smells with a heavy fragrance, which used to be the norm.

According to Givaudan, the premiere fragrance house we frequently collaborate with, one-fifth of the home fragrance products that were launched recently feature an odor-neutralizing facet. I’m guessing that trend will pick up steam this coming year.
And beyond ingredients, people are more mindful of their décor when it comes to shopping for home fragrance. Being sensitive to this, we lean toward minimal packaging without a lot of branding. Our candles, for example, don’t have a logo on them. People thought we were crazy to put out a candle with no logo, but I personally don’t like to showcase other labels in my house, so I chose to make mine without one. I think the home fragrance consumer is looking for products that complement their environment in a chic, understated way.

Happi: What are the future trends in home fragrance products for 2012 and beyond?

LH: If only I had a crystal ball to give me that answer! I can only guess that there will be more home fragrance products that are multi-functional, doing more than one thing. The consumer is more demanding than ever, and the technology is in place for companies to be able to develop really special, versatile products.
We always strive to create a multi-sensory experience in my line. Our candles are a prime example of this. The consumer gets a very high level of fine fragrance, the warm cast of the glow, and a wooden wick that crackles softly and evokes the comforts of a wood-burning fire in décor-friendly packaging.

I’m sure we will also see a strong growth in eco-friendly home fragrance products. People are more educated about ingredients and on the heels of that trend will be marketers trying to capture “greenness” in fragrances. So we’ll be seeing more scents that smell real, like grass and other earthy elements.

I suspect suppliers will also be doing a big push on sustainability, in both their product offerings and business practices. Givaudan has had a comprehensive sustainability program for years. They’re really a leader on that front.


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