Beauty

Commodity Is Spearheading Sustainable Practices in Fragrance

The Indie lifestyle company has big plans for the future.
Reading time 7 minutes

“In a world where everything can be had, the most precious commodity is who you are.” This is the ethos of London-based artisanal fragrance company Commodity.

Founded in 2014 by Konstantin Glasmacher and Ash Huzenlaub, the international lifestyle brand has established itself as a platform where perfumers from around the world are able to collaborate and co-inspire one another, in an effort to create masterful products.

Adhering to a strict unisex, cruelty-free mode of production, Commodity has been able to beautifully balance passion and commerce, becoming available in over 30 countries both in-store and online. 

In an interview with L’Officiel USA, Commodity CEO & co-founder Ash Huzenlaub discusses his company's past, present, and future.

Take me through the origin of Commodity.

AH Konstantin and I established Commodity as a lifestyle brand in late 2014, and then we had our first retail launch in March of 2015.  It went very well, much better than we could have anticipated, which led us to a year of rushing and running very fast to try to meet orders. It’s just continued to grow legs as a brand.

 

Your brand story references the desire to get away from sensory overload, and it kind of seems like other fragrance and beauty companies have followed suit.

AH As the ‘80s and ‘90s went into the 2000s, it was all about celebrity, gloss, and glitter, especially in fragrance. So imagine being a master perfumer that has spent twenty years perfecting your trade and you’re approached by some new marketing director of a brand who says to you, “We've already designed the packaging. Here’s the celebrity that’s going to go on the side of the box... and the latest trend reports say that citrus is hot this season, so you need to come up with a citrus scent... and you need to do it in 6 weeks because it’s got to ship by August for holiday sales.” Imagine that pressure to be creative.

That’s why Commodity is minimalist. This is a brand that’s centered around our sensibilities [and] not distracted by celebrity or glitzy packaging. We want you to focus on the actual product, the quality, and the hard work that those artisans put into it. These fragrances are not developed in a week.

We wanted to create a platform, Konstantin and I, where artisans—not just in fragrance but in any category — could come and create what they want, throwing trend reports out the window. We now have 11 master perfumers around the world, and they come back to us with their submissions. 

 

A lot of current brands have a very “we started in our kitchen,” story. Your brand doesn’t, you’re a serial entrepreneur. 

AH I think that Konstantin and I are authentic about where we come from... the fact we never worked in or understood the lifestyle beauty space before late 2014 when we visualized in a London cafe what Commodity could someday become. You have to dig into a brand's story. Many are created in a PR office. My grandmother did not teach me about fragrance. Konstantin did not dream of mixing skincare ingredients. Through investment, we inherited an early crowd-sourced concept for online fragrance that did not gain traction. Rather than write it off, we rolled our sleeves up, re-named and re-established "Commodity" as a lifestyle brand around our own sensibilities. We know what we like, we know what our wives and team members like when it comes to lifestyle products. We can visualize what we want to use and most importantly, we know we don't like to be sold a fabricated marketing story. We just want to create the greatest products. We feel the best way to do that is through collaboration with the best artisans we can recruit in any category we choose to go into. Our celebrities are our artisans. Their life story is inside every box and on our site. That is authentic. That is Commodity. 

Do you ever go to any of the sources directly?

AH We will be shooting a film in late 2018 or early 2019, depending on harvest for our Haitian Vetiver. Konstantin and I want to show people firsthand the harvest process, meet the actual people and see what some of our contributions that past two years have done in that community. For a small brand, through Commodity Cares, we give $15,000 a year to the Givaudan Foundation, which goes to road improvements and/ or school supplies for co-op member families in Haiti. Last year, our funds assisted with roof rehabilitation after the hurricanes. As we become a bigger brand we’ll be able to do more.

 

So what makes building a fragrance brand more difficult than or different than, for example, a color cosmetics brand?   

AH Well, I don’t come from the beauty industry and I’ve never built a color cosmetics brand, so I can’t compare it to that, but I can think in anything that you do as an entrepreneur, you’re [always] trying to connect with the consumer, and be authentic. You’re trying to give them something that they’ll really enjoy and find value in and want to rave about and just really create cool stuff.

So whether you’re in fragrance, or whether you’re in cosmetics, or you’re in candles, or fashion, whatever it is, you’re really just trying to connect with your consumer. We don’t have a social media manager, a marketing director, [or] an advertising manager. Everything that we’ve done to date has been through word of mouth and genuine fans that love our brand.

What does this expansion into new markets look like, and what’s the end goal for that, if you have one?  

AH 

Well, I think the world is a big place, and therefore, there is no end goal in terms of when we would stop. I think that March of 2015, 24 doors, March of 2018, 550 doors, I think you’ll see that double over the next two years. The Middle East will welcome Commodity across five countries at the end of this year. If you look at Commodity, we’re very tightly distributed. Yes, we partner with Sephora under LVMH in some countries but other retailers carry our candles, or they carry our bath bars.

I am committed to cruelty-free and I am committed to China. We are seeing examples of cruelty-free brands achieving distribution in China and are keeping a close eye on those developments.

We’ve got hotel amenities coming out, so you go to a high-end hotel and you’ll find Book shampoo, conditioner, all of that kind of stuff. Over 100 countries will be able to offer Commodity hotel amenities and so people are going to be exposed to the brand and they’re going to want them in that country.

 

Will you be releasing the hotel amenities in larger sizes?

AH  We’ll first launch Commodity Body amenity sizes in prestige and boutique hotels. You’ll have Commodity Book, Commodity Orris, Commodity Mimosa ...hotels can actually request any of our 27 unisex scents that they wish. From there we’ll see how those do, and which [of them] hotels pick, and then we’ll come out with the 250ml retail sizes. That gets us into Commodity Body.

In March, Commodity added Nectar, Bois, and Velvet to their collection. Shop them below:

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