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Fabrice Croisé, 54: Scents Inspired by the Utah Mountains

With the Great Resignation, and people examining how they want to achieve a work-life balance, it seemed an auspicious time to have a chat with someone who has figured this out: Fabrice Croisé, 54-year-old father of four who, since 2012, has been living with his family in the mountains of Utah. Originally from the south of France, Fabrice’s area of expertise is in luxury perfumes, a business that has taken him to the hubs of that world: New York, Los Angeles, Geneva, and Paris. In 2014, he left working for the big brands and successfully launched his own line in partnership with a celebrity florist, which he then sold in 2018. That began his next adventure, the creation of Scents of Wood.  Launched in September 2020, in a mere 6 months, Scents of Wood was the youngest brand ever to receive the Fragrance Extraordinaire of the Year award. This would be quite an accomplishment for someone living somewhere like Paris or Los Angeles, let alone Utah.

He has thrived, all while living out his dream of residing in a small mountain town, raising his kids away from city life, and skiing almost daily in the winter months. This life of remote working started way before the rest of the world was considering something similar, before we all lived on Zoom, and at a time when the idea of starting a perfume lab in rural Utah would test the imagination of the most robust entrepreneur. Utah is known for a lot of things, but luxury scents is not one of them. The thing is, it worked. He has been able to not only live where he chose but to create 2 successful companies in the luxury scent space. 

His living in the mountains inspired his imagination for the Scents of Wood, with nature-based aromas like Cedar in Oak, Vetiver in Chestnut, Cedar in Acacia, and others. When surrounded by forests of pine, fir, and aspens, we get how he originated the vision of the brand.

Fabrice Croise, photographed by David Harry Stewart

What limits us is not our skills or resources, it is our imagination of what is possible. This applies to our bodies, our way of life, and our businesses. As a well-known billionaire once told me, we can only go to the moon if we can imagine going to the moon. 

What is it like running a global perfume company from the mountains of Utah?
Well, my company is not quite global yet. We do ship to all 50 states and Canada, and we do have customers in Europe and the UAE as well (they found a way to procure our products there, we do not yet ship intercontinentally), but my new brand is only 13 months old, so true global expansion is still a couple of years away.

“I am a firm believer of choosing a life and making work work around it”

As to running it from the top of a mountain in the middle of the US, I am a firm believer of choosing a life and making work work around it, and I’ve been doing that for 20 years, so no problem there. 

Except on powder days. It’s hard to work on powder days.

A lot of people would like this life; what should people know about managing it?
If they really want it, there is always a way. It might take time but eventually everyone shapes their own destiny. Mostly it’s about identifying opportunities that can lead to change. And then take the leap.

You are from the south of France; what led you to want to live in the mountains?
Provence is actually quite close to the Southern French Alps so I spent quite a lot of time in the mountains as a kid and growing up.

Fabrice Croise, photographed by David Harry Stewart

“There is a duality between art and commerce embedded in [scent] that I find fascinating”

What is it about scent that attracted you to work with them?
They are as close to an art form as a consumer good can get. There is a duality between art and commerce embedded in them that I find fascinating. 

Are you always attuned to the smells around you?
Probably more than most people, yes, by the virtue of spending my professional life smelling and evaluating scents. I am not, however, a wizard at recognizing and naming smells around me. Which might sound surprising but my expertise lies more in creative direction than instant ingredient identification. 

What interests you about the smells of wood, forests, and trees?
Their naturality, their variety, their mystery.

What is your creative process in making the scents? Do you work with perfumers?
I work with some of the greatest perfumers and master perfumers in the world. Every brand has a different creative process and on Scents of Wood our process is anchored in the personal life of perfumers. I ask them to start from what I call their “personal forest”: the trees and woods they remember when they close their eyes, the trees that mattered in their life. I ask them to tell me about those memories and we build from there.

How do you know when a scent is done?
It never really is. We just decide to stop at some point, sometimes early in the process, sometimes after months of modifications.

Why do monthly subscriptions?
The challenge with a DTC business is scale. Brick & mortar distribution partners provide brands with instant scale. DTC businesses are built one customer at a time so building revenue is more complex. Subscription models are one solution to this dilemma.

Daily Work Life

What is your daily work life like?
Quite wonderful, actually. I drive to our workshop in the morning via Empire Pass or by the Jordanelle, spend my day concocting the future of the fragrance industry, and go to bed smiling.

You travel a lot. Any good travel tips?
There is only one time zone that matters and that’s the one you’re in. Never think about what time it is at home.

What is your fitness routine? Were you always into sports and fitness?
100 ski sessions a year; everything else is prep for that.

What is it like for your kids living in a small town vs living someplace like NYC or Los Angeles?
So much better, I think. But it will be for them to decide when they grow up. 

What are your 3 non-negotiables in your life?
Art, love, snow.

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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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