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Fabrice Croisé, 55: NFTs and a Digital-First Fragrance Brand

Fabrice Croisé already had a successful digital-first fragrance brand but, through intergenerational mentoring, he brought it to the next level with NFTs. He discusses working with his son, why NFTs are the future, and continually innovating while doing what he loves.

Intergenerational mentoring, the cross-pollinating of knowledge up and down the age column, is one of the keys to having long-term relevance. In the case of Fabrice, the spark of knowledge came from his own son, who expanded his imagination of what the future could be. Staying open to novel ideas and experiences can be difficult when one has been around for a while, but it is something we must absolutely do if we are to live in the present and not be left in the past. 

Looking to a future of what could be, rather than what has traditionally existed, is something that Fabrice is known for, having created a brilliant digital-first fragrance brand: Scents Of Wood. But to go from there to the brave new world of NFTs, and to then imagine how that could intersect with fragrance, was something for which he needed the insights of a younger generation. The upside was not only a first-in-category launch of his new initiative, but also a closer relationship with his son, and a deeper understanding of how the future could look.

How old are you?
55.

Your son just graduated from college with all this knowledge and enthusiasm for NFTs. Is this where you got the idea for a fragrance NFT?
Absolutely. I was visiting him at Lehigh last fall and took him and two of his friends out for dinner. The three of them were so excited by Web3, constantly tossing crypto and NFT ideas at each other; it was just so refreshing and stimulating to observe. At some point the conversation turned to my fragrance business. I was explaining how we injected this idea of subscription into the landscape of luxury fragrance, when Tristan suggested we build our next subscription as an NFT. That moment is when it all started. 

You have this great fragrance brand — why would you want to get into something like this which seems so totally outside of that universe?
Of all consumer goods, fragrance is one of the last categories that haven’t yet cracked digital. A fragrance brand with a successful digital strategy makes 10% of its sales online, at most. 

From the very beginning, my ambition for Scents of Wood was to be THE luxury fragrance brand that would break that curse. Hence our DTC business model, our subscription idea, our focus on social networks. Two years in, we make 92% of our sales online. We are starting to explore retail partnerships as well, because the brand is in high demand, but our intention is to keep retail at a maximum of 20% of our sales. Retail is a wonderful way to make the brand more visible, more tangible, but our brand DNA is in digital. 

For that reason, anything new that happens in that world is worth considering to us. Including NFTs. 

“Just like 10 years ago when most people had little idea what a social network was, NFTs are still misunderstood but they are coming”

Please explain to us newbies what an NFT is. Guessing it is something more than pictures of bored apes?
Well, the first thing I would say is that you might not be newbies for long. Just like 10 years ago when most people had little idea what a social network was, NFTs are still misunderstood but they are coming. They might end up bearing a different name, and most of their applications are yet to be invented, but they are coming. 

At the core, NFTs are proofs of ownership that sit on a blockchain (i.e. a decentralized network of computers recording transactions and information). Those proofs of ownership are traceable, unique and forgery-proof. And yes, they became famous for being associated with computer-generated art like Cryptopunks and Bored Apes. Those were issued in finite numbers, each with distinctive traits, and widely proclaimed a key moment in the history of modern art — hence their dizzying prices and the wild speculation it attracted. 

But NFTs can be so much more than PFPs (as those images are called). Because they offer traceability and cannot be replicated on the blockchain, they are a wonderful way to establish and monitor membership, ownership and communities of all kinds. And that, of course, includes subscriptions. 

“NFTs are a wonderful way to establish and monitor membership, ownership, and communities of all kinds”

What is it like working with your son?
It makes me so proud to see what an intelligent, creative, driven person he is. I am quite impressed with the amount of knowledge he has accumulated in college, too. And at a simply human level, I am just happy to spend time with him. College graduation is usually the ultimate moment of separation with a child. In our case, it’s the opposite; at least for now. 

Was he the one who created the NFT contract for you?
Yes, he was.

When I think of these two very different communities, NFT being very tech, and fragrance being very aesthetic, how are you bringing them together?
The brand does. Our NFT is first and foremost a Scents of Wood NFT. Our fragrances are Scents of Wood fragrances. The brand ties it all together.

Then there are the perfumers themselves, quite elusive, and also not known for being super tech forward. You have some famous ones on board. How did you do that?
They might not be very tech-forward, but they are constantly looking for new ways of talking about their creation. Fragrance is a very traditional industry, very codified, polished, and risk-adverse. As a result, innovations are few and far between and perfumers — just like consumers, actually — can get a little bored by yet another scent, yet another brand, yet another ad campaign. So it was actually not so hard to get them excited. 

For those who don’t know, what is Scents of Wood, and what makes it unique?
We are a brand of luxury fragrances and candles inspired by trees and forests. We age our alcohol in wooden barrels to enhance the woodiness of our scents. And we work with some of the greatest perfumers on the planet. 

“This will be the first crowd-sourced fragrance (and brand) creation in the history of our industry”

If I purchase a Scents of Wood NFT, what would I get?
Four full-size Scents of Wood fragrances, all created by those amazingly talented perfumers and only available to our NFT holders. Which makes them the rarest scents in the world. You will receive them over two years (one every 6 months). Plus, events to meet the rest of the community, cool merch and a LOT of surprises. And — maybe most importantly —voting rights. On the allocation of funds, on the perfumers who create our scents, on ingredients. This will be the first crowd-sourced fragrance (and brand) creation in the history of our industry. 

How has working with your son on this project changed your relationship?
I don’t think it fundamentally has changed our relationship. It just provided us with a new set of memories to discuss and smile about ten years from now.

Aside from the tech involved, what is something you have learned from working with your son?
That both teaching and learning, exchanging knowledge and experience, both of those can happen at any age. I learn so much from him, as I think he does from me. It’s quite fascinating, actually. 

Crypto seems to be having a bit of a bad PR moment these days. Where do you think crypto and NFTs will be in 10 years?
NFTs definitely have a bit of a PR issue, and in a way they had it coming. So much focus on speculation, so little interest for all the other potentialities of the medium; what can one expect? As soon as the market goes down — and all markets have bearish moments — people complain. In a way, this helps projects like ours. Projects with real, tangible utilities. 

What is your 5-year plan?
More of the same, honestly. I am having too much fun 🙂 More seriously, I would like to see our NFT community all grown-up but still full of energy, inventing on a daily basis new ways of talking about and selling fragrances.

What are your life non-negotiables?
Time with my kids and the people I love. Time in nature, on the mountain, on the snow.

Questions for Tristan, age 23:

What is your ambition for the next 5 years?
My ambition is to use this project as a proof of concept for subscription NFTs, and then be the one who introduces this technology to as many industries as possible, consulting for them on establishing Web3 into their existing models. This will not only streamline many existing processes but also will create a more united and safer world. 

What are you learning from working with your dad?
One of the most important things I see while witnessing his process is his entrepreneurial acumen. It is fascinating sitting in on conversations with collaborators, investors, clients or members of his team and watch him create novel and innovative ideas for the company. Especially in settings with a more corporate atmosphere, it is really impressive to see that the creative side of his mind never falters. I’ve been following the progress of Scents of Wood since its inception, but now being directly in the midst of it I can really see what it takes to create a brand like this. However, I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that he truly loves what he does. I’ve known fragrance and trees to be passions of his my whole life, and the fact that he combined the two into creating this company shows me that when you are doing something that you are truly passionate about, that holds dear meaning in your life, that you will stop at nothing to reach the goals you set for yourself. 

What are your thoughts on the fragrance business as it intersects the NFT world?
I think that NFTs being introduced into the fragrance industry just goes to show how applicable the technology is, even in the most unassuming places. Two industries on complete opposite ends of the spectrum can be united using blockchain technology and, to me, that shows that this is just the beginning. I find it really cool that my first venture into Web3 is through the fragrance industry, because it makes all the challenges we face feel revolutionary to overcome. 

Scents of Wood
Fabrice’s NFT project with his son

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AUTHOR

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

 

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