The business model for perfume companies traditionally has been to have products manufactured and bottled in factories and then distributed to retail stores for final sale to customers. With the age of the internet came an opportunity for artisans in many fields to reach their customers directly through their own websites. Artisans can form a direct relationship with customers, which can make the interaction more satisfying all the way around. It also allows artisans to keep prices under control for their costlier handmade products by cutting out the middlemen of reps, distributors, and retailers.
It helps to have your products in a few brick and mortar stores where people can try your scents, but for the most part I prefer to sell directly to customers. It’s not possible to make hundreds of thousands of bottles by hand, so if you want to keep producing handmade products you have to limit your distribution. I know other indie perfumers struggle with finding the right path too, and the answer will vary from person to person.
I found this recent video interview with Mandy Aftel very interesting, and she discusses a number of aspects of the artisan business model. What strikes me most is how happy she is with her business and her art, and how we all should be so lucky to reach that goal where everything is in balance! Indie perfumers might want to watch this and think about it. 🙂