Mimi talks to Linda Pilkington: Part 1

Mimi ON Dec 11, 2008 AT 4:43 pm

 We talk to Linda Pilkington, founder of Ormonde Jayne fragrances.

Linda Pilkington

Linda Pilkington

How did you get to where you are today?

Ormonde Jayne exists today by nothing more than happenstance. I never set out to conceive a perfume house, it came about by meeting up with an old friend I had not seen for 25 years. Mr Andersen worked for Chanel and he wanted to know if I still made lovely scented products, as he remembered from long ago when we were neighbours. He had purchased very expensive large candles from Donna Karan that would not burn, so he asked if I could re-set them. This was very easy for me as candle making had been my hobby since I was a child, along with other things like making chocolates, growing plants and making bath oil. The candles were returned the next day and he was thrilled. When they were finished he asked me to create a scented candle to burn in the Fine Jewellery shop. Not wanting to disappoint him, I set out to create the best I could. After contacting Grasse,  Google, reference books, you name it, I finally came up with the product. He and Madame Sophie loved the candle and ordered 36. I created Ormonde Jayne so I could send them an invoice, so my very first business invoice is Chanel number 001.

That was nearly 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. To progress my new company, I showed Ormonde Jayne at trade shows. For 3 years running, we won the first prize for style and design. It gave me a lot of confidence that I was doing something right. At this point I had taken on a studio and my main business was private label, creating small runs of scented products, mainly for stylists and designers. As I was also learning at the same time, I enrolled in a number of short courses to understand more about perfume. A very good book is called POUCHERS, it is expensive but contains over 100 formula’s of how to create basic accords, like tuberose, jasmine, grapefruit and cedar etc. This is very good for practising  and so as time went on, I learnt more and more until you develop your own style that sets you apart from the rest of the perfume houses.

Today, we are still learning, always looking to be more innovative and creative. I have the luxury of owning the company, and so not at the mercy of outside investors. This allows me to be as creative as I like, when it suits me and at what ever cost and I think my clients appreciate that.
Describe a day in your life
My day is usually the same if I am in London. Occasionally I need to travel off to France or further afield like Laos to source new oils, check plantations out and meet with the growers.

Ormonde Jayne

Ormonde Jayne

When in London, my day goes something like this:
6:30am Up to feed babies and dogs.
8:30am Singing & playing with my two boys (2 and a half & 8months) – if it isn’t raining then we walk in the northern part of Regents Park just near the zoo & peak over into the llamas & wooly mammoths.
10:00am Nanny Tamsin arrives, I spend half an hour giving her an update and then usually head off to visit the studio and I check to see how product is coming along. Sashalee has been with me for 8 years, since she left school and she makes all the candles and bath oil hand pouring each one.
12:00pm I get to our perfumery shop in Old Bond Street by about 12pm. I bought a G-Wizz (electric car) about 3 years ago which revolutionised my life – I can really whizz across London with no carbon footprint and don’t have to pay a penny in congestion charges or parking meters. I answer emails until lunch time  and then after lunch I conduct one meeting a day, directed at our PR team or the sales ladies or any staff connected to the day to day running of the shop.
Late afternoon: Product development, ideas, research, reading botanical books and  brainstorming ideas for new products in the range that I tend to like to keep top secret until they are perfect and about to be launched. I sometimes go round the corner to have tea at The Wolseley if there is a journalist or someone I need to have a quiet chat with away from the bustle of the boutique.
5:30pm Head for home, take the dogs for a quick walk and have dinner with the boys.
6:30pm Bath, milk, stories, goodnight children.
8:00pm My husband travels a lot and if he is away then I tend to work on Ormonde jayne with whatever is left to do. If he is home then one of our main discussions is about food as we are both big foodies – how long we should marinate the food and will it benefit from marinating overnight in the fridge are our biggest moot points.
10:00pm watch the news and check and add to  my check list for the next day (love check lists)
Read a book, usually connected to our industry one way or the other.
11:30pm Hit the light.

Ormonde Jayne Gift Set

Ormonde Jayne Gift Set

Sum up your business in one sentence. What’s your USP?
We are unique in so much as no other perfume house has a signature perfume made with hemlock (Ormonde Woman & Ormonde Man), or such a creative, diverse range as Tolu, Ta’if, Sampaquita, my Champaca perfume idea has been copied twice in the last 2 years, but Ormonde Jayne’s creation is far better, so I don’t care.

For readers who haven’t used your collection before, what are your hero, must-try products?
Our pot of gold, Parfum d’Or Naturel is very special, as it’s matrix is polysaccharides (sugar) You wear it on your shoulders and décolletage, it leaves a sophisticated gold and scented shimmer.

Career highlight to date
Wallpaper: Isfarkand Best scent for 2006
Luca Turin awarding 5 starts for our perfumes in his book this year “Perfumes:The Guide”. Creating the look of our shop with Caulder Moore and then succeeding in recreating it in Dubai for our new shop that opened a few weeks ago.

Read more about Linda and Ormonde Jayne here

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