M. Micallef - Owners

From Banking To Beauty, The Maison Micallef Journey Is As Unique As The Niche Fragrance Brand

Fragrances tell a story. They define a journey. They create an everlasting impression that is etched in one’s memory. Fragrances are personal—not just to the average consumer, but to the perfumer too. The ingredients, the smells, the memories hidden within each note has a meaning…a purpose, one would say. Keeping this sentiment in mind, French husband-wife duo Martine Micallef and Geoffery Nejman set out to create their niche fragrance brand in 1995. An amalgamation of art and perfumery, almost three decades later Maison Micallef is celebrated for its intricate artistry in every way possible, from bottle to scent.

Geoffrey Nejman - Maison Micallef - Parcos

It All Started With A Sniff

“We come from different horizons. My first life was banking,” recalls Geoffery. “Martine was already in the beauty industry, as she had a beauty salon in Cannes that also sold perfumes. I came to the industry because I was invited to a laboratory, where I was consulting on their finances. I snuck into the perfume department every day and started exploring the ingredients. I even spoke with the perfumers.” And that was Geoffery’s eureka moment.

The couple always wanted to start a business together, and after Geoffery brought home a few samples from the laboratory he was consulting at, they both understood that perfumes were their way forward. The idea behind the brand was to seamlessly bring two worlds together through the craft of fragrances. It was to create something unique and special, that is personal to both the founders and the audience they are catering to. Through Martine’s background in art and Geoffery’s business sense, Maison Micallef was born. From the formulation to the bottles, everything has been handcrafted to perfection—something that till date the brand emphasises upon.

Maison Micallef started as a very small, niche brand where they had a few dozen boxes produced and Geoffery went door-to-door to perfumery stores. “Our cellar was our warehouse and we were only three people at that time—Geoffery, one assistant, and myself,” laughs Martine.

Martine Micallef - Parcos

Inspired By Art

Fragrance is the epitome of luxury, and this is usually reflective both through the ingredients and the bottle it’s housed in—and M.Micallef embodies that luxury. Thanks to Martine’s creative vision, the first collection was handmade by the artist herself. Being one of the first to associate with crystal brand Swarovski, Martine got them to change the shape of their stones so that it could be glued to glass. “I wanted the bottle to be hand painted with crystal Swarovski and real gold, because the concept is very artistic,” says Martine.

When asked about where and how she finds inspirations for her collections, Martine laughs and says, “I was born with this talent. I was born with a brush in my hand.” She credits this artistry to her ability to observe her surroundings and learn from it. “I received my first oil painting when I was only six. I started to copy all the famous artists—I love Monet, Manet—you learn a lot when you copy famous artists and then do it yourself once inspiration hits.” She contributes her inspiration to her love for travel and learning about different cultures. “I am curious about art. I don’t see my competition. I want it to be my own and to keep my personality—if you like it, you love it, or you hate it. I think that when you keep your personality and bring the DNA of the brand, it is important. You can’t please everyone—but, those who love you, really love you.”

Niche Fragrances In India  - Parcos

The Global Reception

According to Geoffery, ironically, the French did not take well to this new brand. “In France there is a bit of protectionism from bigger brands. Even if you steal away from them 0.0001% of their turnover, you’re frightening the industry,” he says. On the other hand, the brand received a red-carpet arrival in Germany—as a matter of fact, it is one of their largest and biggest markets today. The brand then extended their distribution to the middle-east, the European Union, and the US, and never looked back since. “Slowly and steadily we developed this brand from the centre of our house, where we started. We are in 75 countries now and we cater to about 850 points of sales,” he says proudly. Introduced by Baccarose in India five years ago, the couple believes that the Indian market has truly welcomed M.Micallef with open arms.

Micallef - Parcos Luxezine

On To New Horizons

A pioneering perfume brand in many ways, M.Micallef was one of the first to introduce the strong middle-eastern favourite oil, Oud, into their fragrances. The idea was to bring this traditional scent to contemporary notes that cater to an untapped audience—in this case, M.Micallef targeted it towards the Arabs. In the process, however, it became a global phenomenon. Their “Rose Aoud” was then borrowed by many commercial luxury perfume houses to create masterpieces of their own. 

On similar grounds, the brand has now introduced something rather playful, that fills a gap for the younger, vibrant audience. Inspired by Geoffery’s (and many others’) favourite drink, gin & tonic, the brand plays around with fresher notes of lime, ginger, bergamot, and mint, to recreate the G&T chords. “One day it clicked and I said to Martine, why don’t we try to do a scent that has the same components as the drink. We managed to use some ingredients to reproduce the effect of the tonic water.” 

Due to obvious reasons, the fragrance couldn’t be registered by the famous name. Geoffery, however, managed to find a loophole. M.Micallef’s GN Tonic, are actually his initials—Geoffery Nejman, paired with the tonic. “It’s amazing because we just launched it a few months ago. Our fragrances do well in general and we do get repeat orders. But, we never experienced getting repeat orders at such speed as with GN Tonic. I think it’s going to be a major success.”

With more fragrance secrets up their sleeve, this couple has a lot more in the pipelines that one can look forward to. The perfume house M.Micallef may be niche, but it’s surely grabbed eyes, hearts, and noses, across the globe. 

Geoffrey Nejman & Martine Micallef