Turkey's first customized perfume boutique is a jewel box-inspired shop in Istanbul's chic Nişantaşı, where experts offer workshops to guide you in creating your own custom scent and packaging
Located in the Nişantaşı neighborhood of Istanbul, La Deesse makes its customers feel unique by offering them the chance to create bespoke fragrances. Carrying a number of niche perfume brands such as Keiko Mecheri, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Miller Harris, Ormonde Jayne and Acca Kappa, La Deesse is a one-of-a-kind perfume boutique. I entered the heavenly-scented shop to speak with Birgül Ulucan Öztürk, one of the founders, amid an array of delicately placed perfumes.
Hard-to-reach, feminine and mysterious
Two sisters aspiring to open up a business that would be a pioneering enterprise in its field have achieved great success in the seven years since La Deesse opened its doors to fragrance enthusiasts in Istanbul. As I sat down to chat with one of them, Birgül Ulucan Öztürk, I asked her how the boutique got its name and inquired about the philosophy of the store. Öztürk said: "We worked with a team to create the brand as a whole and the name 'La Deesse' was one of the options we had to choose from. We decided that the name fit the brand's spirit quite well because 'La Deesse,' means 'goddess' in French: A feminine, beautiful and mysterious word which is the epitome of our fragrance boutique."
Daily Sabah reporter İklim Arsiya (R) interviews Birgül Ulucan Öztürk, the co-founder of La Deesse.
Öztürk talks about the process of starting up their business and how they decided to embark on the fragrance design venture: "It was around the time that my sister and business partner Gamze graduated from college. I had already gained seven years of experience in the retail sector and we had always thought about opening up our own business but we didn't know what sector our future business would be in. After I quit my job working in retail, we started researching a business that was based on design and we decided we wanted our endeavor to be centered on something aesthetic as well. To put it simply, we wanted to create something that would ultimately be a 'first' in Turkey. At that time, we had a friend who was a fragrance designer and that person introduced us to niche perfumes. Gamze has always had a liking for perfumes and loved the idea immediately. We traveled abroad, to Paris and Milan, in 2010 to research and learn more about the sector because at the time, fragrance design was something rare in Turkey. We chose Nişantaşı in Istanbul as the location for our boutique because it's a prestigious area and we wanted La Deesse to be a street-front store rather than inside a shopping center."
Looking back, Öztürk realizes what a big thing she and her sister have accomplished. "It was nerve racking trying to get companies to sign us as their Turkish distributor but we managed to convince them and it all turned out as we hoped. There is quite a difference from when we first started to where we stand today. When we first started our business, we were trying to get companies on board so that we could sell their products in our boutique but now we are the distributors of these brands in Turkey. I think we've come a long way since we first started seven years ago," she added.
Design your own one-of-a-kind fragrance
La Deesse also offers workshops where "untrained noses" can learn about the process of fragrance design. Customers leave the boutique with their own fragrance and can come back to purchase their special formula.
Says Öztürk: "When you think of perfume, Grasse in France comes to mind. It is considered the heart and birthplace of the perfume industry. Many fragrance houses have headquarters in Grasse as the region is famous for its fields of lavender and rose, which end up being sold to many fragrance companies. We worked with Parfumerie Galimard, a company founded there in the 1700s, for our workshops. The workshops are created around a system where untrained noses can design their own perfumes. When designing a fragrance, there are 120 accords divided into bottom, middle and top notes. In our workshops, we first identify your specific taste in fragrances by pinpointing which fragrance family you prefer. These could be the floral or oriental fragrance families, for example. In order to create the right perfume for you, we choose from the 120 raw materials in your specific fragrance family. We help build up your fragrance starting from the bottom notes and ending with the top notes. This process takes three to five hours to complete. Our workshops are completely based on smelling and pairing scents to see if they go together before we create the mix. This process can be seen as a simulation before completing the final fragrance. Everything is up to you, however, Gamze, who is in charge of these workshops, is there to guide you when you're designing your fragrance. At the end of the workshop, you leave with your own 50 milliliter bottle of fragrance, named and packaged however you like. The formula stays with us, in case you would like to come back to buy another bottle of your perfume."
Fragrance in every aspect of life
Besides perfumes, La Deesse sells soaps and detergents as well. What makes these products different from others is that each of the products is the best in their line. "These products are environmentally friendly, organic, non-toxic and made from very special formulas," Öztürk added.
Find the perfume that suits you
One of Coco Chanel's most famous quotes is, "A woman should wear perfume wherever she wants to be kissed." But, how do we choose the right fragrance for ourselves when there are thousands of options on the market? Here is what Öztürk had to say for those who are on the lookout for a new fragrance.
"My advice to those who are searching for a fragrance that will suit them is to take your time. Just like when you're shopping for clothes, you don't just take something off the shelf and buy it; you try it on and see if it fits. The same thing goes for perfumes. You must try a perfume and wait a couple of hours to see if you still like the changed fragrance on your skin. Since a fragrance is a bold statement about yourself, you must take your time and energy when choosing the right one."