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In Conversation with Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne

For a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we spoke to the Creator and Founder of Fragrance House Ormonde Jayne, Linda Pilkington. We discuss Linda's early passion for craftsmanship, launching and growing Ormonde Jayne, her luxury boutique at 28 Old Bond Street, and strong international presence across 200 retailers. We also speak about entrepreneurship and what it takes to launch a business.

Please can you provide a summary of how Ormonde Jayne started? 

“I’m from the middle of nowhere in Cheshire, so growing up we had to entertain ourselves, and that’s when I really got into craftsmanship. So, most birthdays and Christmases I would get great big crafts sets e.g. how to make scented candles, how to grow plants, how to make chocolate etc. I was really fond of it and was actually quite good at it. I would think to myself; I’ve made all these lovely things, what am I going to do with them all? There was an entrepreneurial streak in me, and I was very keen on selling them. I would go out and knock on the Vicar's door and ask if he wanted to buy my scented candles or whatever else I had made that weekend.”

“Later on in life when I was travelling abroad for a number of years, my entrepreneurial part of me kicked in again. I had an ice cream parlour in South America, and I was living on a ranch and growing Soya. I’ve always tried my hand at things. I’m quite positive and confident within myself. When I got back to England had to get a proper job so I started working with an agrochemicals company which went on for a couple of years. It was then when I bumped into an old childhood friend who remembered me and was working for Chanel. He mentioned how it would be nice If I could make a scented candle for his boutique where he sold fine jewellery. And that’s how it all started. That’s how Ormonde Jayne was born. I started doing it in my spare time at night-time. Luckily, Chanel liked it and they ordered 50. At that time, I didn’t have a brand name and Chanel needed one on the invoice I was sending them. I didn’t like the idea of going with my name, Linda Pilkington. I spoke with my husband who said ‘Well, you’re Linda Jayne and you live at Ormonde Terrace, so call it Ormonde Jayne’. So, it all went from there. I took a shop on Old Bond Street and we’ve been here 18 years, and we’re sold all over the world within 200 retailers.”

That's very inspiring and it’s great to see your brand doing really well. It really is a global powerhouse now. 

“Yes, we’re really well respected for what we do, and we’ve got a good reputation because we use a very high quantity of oils in the perfumes. Everything is poured at 25%-45% and we make everything in house at our studios in Kent. We do everything from scratch, so we make the perfume, filter, bottle, package and off it goes around the world to all our beautiful clients. I also travel a lot to visit all these points of sale locations to explain about the perfume, the philosophy behind it, why we made it and to train their staff. We will usually have soiree in the evening to meet their clients too. So, even though we have 200 retailers, we have a very close relationship with them all. It’s working really well."

It sounds like you’ve built this all from the ground up and there wasn’t a big business plan. 

“Yes, that’s right. For example, when I took the shop, I had seen that it was available to rent and thought how much of a beautiful little retail space it would be; It’s Bond Street, Mayfair, London. So, I literally did my mathematics on the back of an envelope there and then, and worked out what the rent, service charge, business rates and how much product I would need to sell per day to afford it. I was thinking that I would run it myself so there would be no staff wages for the first few years and I just went ahead took it. I worked out I had to sell 8 items per day to break even and I knew I could do that.”

Please can you tell us about the Ormonde Man fragrance with Oud? 

“Actually, the first time I smelled Oud was 19 years ago and I thought it was absolutely frightful. The philosophy of Ormonde Jayne is to look for and use ingredients not widely used in the industry, so I often take off on long trips with the hope to come back with ground-breaking ingredients that nobody else is using. So, when I came across Oud for the first time it was pure Oud. It was never made into a fine fragrance. So, to improve the smell I had the idea to put Oud into a fine fragrance along with other ingredients and as it turned out, it was a smash hit. People were literally queuing at the door. I was making it at night in my studio and filtering it in the morning. I normally prefer my perfumes to mature 6-8 weeks, but I would bring it to the shop and as soon as I opened up people would be asking how many bottles I had left and would take them all. It was great for me and it wasn’t something I had planned. Everyone was interested in Oud at that time and 6 months later Yves Saint Laurent launched a perfume with Oud which was also well received. Its now a confirmed category and every fragrance house in the world uses it. So, I’m quite proud of the fact I was the first to introduce it into the fine fragrance world.”

This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 44 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Linda Pilkington, Founder of fragrance house ormondejayne.com. You can listen to the full version below or subscribe in iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.


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