Sensations and Scents, Intuition and Soul, The Classy Time takes you along the inspirational journey of Camille Goutal, Maison Goutal’s nose. An interview about the modern sense of being an entrepreneur, but also a Daughter, Mom and Wife.
Camille Goutal was first a photographer for ten years, before training in the craft of nose after the passing of her mother. As she says, she was lucky enough to be able to learn alongside Isabelle Doyen, with whom she still works today. Together, they have created many fragrances for Maison Goutal. Camille Goutal has accepted to let us pass through her world of scents and inspirations.
TCT: Could you tell us about Maison Goutal? Its creation, its foundations, what it aspires to.
Camille Goutal: My mother created this brand when she was 30 years old, after an unusual career as a pianist, model, and then antique dealer. She fell in love with this profession which she came across by chance and allowed her to express herself fully.
My mother followed her intuitions, she made fun of marketing and fashions which, according to her, reduced creativity to nothing and made everything look the same. She had an innate aesthetic sense, great sensitivity and infinite generosity. Her house reminds me of her…
TCT: The Maison was born in 1979. Did Annick Goutal face obstacles during its creation? Many I imagine!
C.G.: First of all, funding. I think she borrowed 30,000 francs from her father in 1979 (which she imperatively repaid to him).
Then its small amounts of production. She weighed everything herself with the help of friends in her back room, because her quantities were too small to be produced in the factory at the time. She made her windows, filled her bottles, tied the labels by hand, wrapped the bottles in cellophane. I remember sticking hundreds of labels on bags on a Wednesday afternoon!!! But I was young and it was a lot of fun.
She went a long way to make herself known, since at the time, social networks did not exist! So she went to her friends’ offices, to do school fairs, she organized home sales etc.
People often said to her: you were very lucky that your brand was successful. She replied: no, I just worked like crazy.
TCT: What do you think makes Maison Goutal unique?
C.G.: Its poetry, sincerity, tenderness, quality, and the fact that each perfume really tells a story.
TCT: Was it difficult to take back the House? Did you face certain obstacles during the handover? (Packaging)
C.G.: My mother sold her brand long before she died, although she continued to work on it until the end. So I didn’t have to run it, and I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. I take care of the lab with Isabelle Doyen, who is an independent entity from Maison Goutal.
For the creative side, I was trusted, particularly Brigitte Taittinger who managed this house for years and with whom we have developed the brand for export from the 2000s. We had a relationship of trust and of friendship for fifteen years. We had a lot of fun. I didn’t ask myself too many questions, nor asked if my mother would have done like this or like that. I just applied what she taught me, that is, follow my intuition and my beliefs 🙂
TCT: Where do you find your source of inspiration?
C.G.: In nature and traveling of course, not necessarily far from elsewhere. In a painting, a song, a book, a photo, a meal, a fabric, a historic monument. The source is endless!
TCT: Do you often collaborate with other composer-perfumers (nose)? Are they generally women?
C.G.: I work with Isabelle Doyen on a daily basis, but for me, it’s not a “collaboration”, it’s much more than that.
You don’t need to ask yourself questions when you work together, it’s fluid, simple, no hassle. We have the same idea of perfumery, even if we do not necessarily have the same tastes, and above all, we respect the choices of the other.
If I work with another perfumer, it’s very different. We generally start from his idea, but we will take him towards a more “Goutal” style. Indeed, there are many raw materials that are very currently used in perfumery and that we do not like at all at Goutal. So we’re going to talk a lot to bring balance and a more personal touch. But it’s very nice and rewarding too.
TCT: How is your typical day?
C.G.: I don’t have a typical day …
Let’s say that I am more productive in the evening, so waking up at 7 am is always complicated … It is overall very variable. Mails to read, orders of raw materials to be placed, meetings, test weighings, test evaluations, appointments with suppliers, customers, going to an exhibition, visits to points of sales, go to the Post Office (we have no assistants with Isabelle), traveling…
And above all, very important, have a real lunch break!
TCT: How do you manage to juggle your life as a mom and a business owner?
C.G.: My daughters are now 18 and 21, so they manage (almost…) on their own. But when they were smaller, I went to fetch them at school for a long time and I continued to work on my computer from home. Being a self-employed person involves a lot of difficulties, but the greatest happiness of this status is freedom, it is priceless.
TCT: What would you advise women who want to start their own business? How not to be afraid of going into the deep end?
C.G.: It’s always a little scary to get started! But you can feel it inside when it’s the right time.
The most important thing is really to have a strong idea and convictions.There will always be people who know much better than you what to do. Don’t let yourself be destabilized. Keep the tips that interest you and that can move you forward, and put the rest in the trash.
On the other hand, with all the goodwill in the world and good ideas, that does not necessarily mean that we are capable of managing a company well. It is really very important to get advice on all the charges that will fall and to anticipate the expenses well before launching. There are always a lot of them that you don’t think of, so plan a margin of safety on funding. Calculate your margins well too. This will allow you greater freedom later.
Once you have a good vision of future expenses, you are more easily able to anticipate the galleys (there are always some!) and to cope with them.
If you are very creative, it can be interesting to work in pairs with someone more financial. In fact, often, great successes are achieved thanks to a duo of creative / financial trust.
TCT: How do you think women can be accepted and respected as leaders today?
C.G.: Even if we still observe paternalistic behavior and wage differentials, we are progressing little by little, in European countries anyway. It’s going to take time, we don’t change centuries of habit in 6 months, but it’s progressing.
On the other hand, I would not allow myself to tell women how they must do to be accepted. Men should be hammered in the message of equality from childhood. It is no longer for women to adapt as they have done for centuries.
Personally, I have never hesitated to rebuff a man who had an inappropriate remark or attitude. Even young and even when I had to face frankly borderline, even dangerous situations.
Often, I even did it rather nicely (even with humor), explaining why I repaid it, because some men make remarks that they think funny and harmless when they are just showing bad taste really. These men are not just our co-workers, it may be our husbands, our friends, our cousins.
It is more constructive to say why this or that attitude is disturbing, rather than keeping quiet or becoming aggressive. Many men come to realize this by talking about it.
This work begins at home with your sons. They are the future employees or business leaders. It is from childhood that a boy is taught how to behave. Not once he’s in the working world. It is when he is young that he must learn to cook and to clean, to respect the girls, to speak to them well.
And no, these are not clichés, the reverse is unfortunately still often too visible in many families around me … Dads must set an example for their children.
At home, I couldn’t take it anymore to cook 365 days a year (and manage the dozens of things that all women today have to deal with without anyone noticing) I went on “indefinite strike”. On full strike for a month. I no longer did the shopping, the meals, the tidying up, or the organization of everything else. Nothing. My darling was forced to do it … And my daughters too.
Thank you !