BY AINSLIE WALKER
Recently I was invited to assist on the shopfloor for a month within Peony Haute Parfumerie, by owner and curator Jill Timms. Needless to say I was in absolute ‘niche heaven!’ It was an honour to work alongside someone so knowledgeable, respected and passionate about the industry and who continues to pioneer for niche perfumes within Australia. How does an independent perfumery like Peony succeed and make it to their 15-year anniversary?
There are very few, true niche perfumeries in Australia. It’s a tough landscape and competition is fierce in regards to brand exclusivity and uniqueness of offerings. External factors make it even harder with ‘dangerous goods’ distribution issues, outrageous freight costs and dollar fluctuations. Demands and expectations of consumers have increased with added competition from internet sales, pricing from overseas and local grey markets. Commonly bigger players take over brands, which have often been discovered, imported and nurtured into the Australian market initially by independent retailers.
Luckily a number have succeeded. One such is Peony Haute Parfumerie. A world-renowned destination boutique in Melbourne’s Hawthorne, it is a must-visit for all lovers of fragrance. This year, the business celebrates its 15th year of trade – no mean feat. Survive she did and there are many reasons for founder, Jill’s success.
Originally opening with brands such as Rancé, Diptyque, Mona di Orio and Tocca, Jill has watched as distributors and larger retailers have taken exclusivity of these brands in time. Large companies also acquire niche houses, changing their marketing strategies and distribution across Australia. Commenting on this evolution Jill is philosophical: “It’s business! It used to upset me and I worried it would affect my business, however I simply move on to the next and it’s always worked for me.” Discovering brands and nurturing them into the Australian market is indeed one of Jill’s strengths. Jill curates her stock of historic and contemporary brands carefully and knowledgeably and thus the store has inspired the collections of many more recent stores stocking niche fragrances.
Jill’s eye for style and detail is second to none. The store contains an array of gorgeous European antiques as props; some are for sale, and some become part of the alluring window displays - a highlight of every visit to Peony.
The store is a charming environment and once inside you could be anywhere in the world – Europe in particular. The old-world European glamour entices you to linger for hours. Her standards are impeccable and the store on par, if not better than many top perfumeries I have visited in the UK, Europe and the US.
Jill has an unfaltering passion for quality service, representing brands with impeccable care – knowing brands and their history and their stories like the back of her hand. She takes time to recommend perfumes to customers, sometimes making appointments. She gift-wraps and ribbons purchases methodically – different for each brand, adding gifts-with-purchases and samples.
Her advice for salespeople: “Don’t give too many choices and ensure to try something on their skin”
Jill’s clientele, exclusively trust her taste and revere the store, many making Peony their one stop shop for unique gifts and special occasions.
Why? Peony ticks all the boxes from the exclusive and carefully curated products being immaculately presented: no dust or marks, testers fresh, full and in good working order, all products in stock, website updated and a well thought out exchange policy. Jill also utilises the Fragrances of the World Database, a modern twist for particular customer’s needs. More than anything, Jill runs a very tight ship.
Peony Haute Parfumerie:
107 Auburn Road, Hawthorne, VIC 3122
Goldfield & Banks is less than two years old. Founded by Belgian Frenchman, Dimitri Weber – a veteran of the fine fragrance world, working across Europe – the brand is inspired by the natural wonders of the Australian landscape - Australian made fine fragrance highlighting scents unique to Australia’s scenery.
Michael Marzano, the National Education Manager for Agence de Parfum, Australia’s leading niche perfume and home fragrance distribution company, believes that fragrance is the first layer of dressing. It’s what you wear closest to the body and everything follows after that. “Both women and men should absolutely have a fragrance wardrobe that reflects their style, changing moods and every occasion”.