Audrey Semeraro is the founder of Edeniste: harmonising experts in olfaction and neuroscience to create the ‘first generation of active wellness proven to enhance emotional wellbeing.’
Audrey Semeraro has spent the last four years fusing her passion for science (her father is a nuclear scientist) and her lifelong love of fashion and fragrance (her mother is a model for Nina Ricci), by working closely with Takasago’s Research and Development team to bring her visions into fruition.
“My aspiration has always been to bring emotional wellbeing to people, but when I looked into the fragrance industry, I found that this need wasn’t being addressed in a targeted way. Edeniste is the first generation of perfumes with active molecules intended for a holistic ‘psycho-physiological effect’ – put simply, an emotional fragrance experience with enhanced wellbeing in mind. Edeniste is the outcome of guidance from world-leading neuroscientists, and a unique partnership with the Japanese fragrance company Takasago, the fragrance house of emotions.”
East Of Edeniste
Could you tell us a little more about your journey moving from film and events into science and research – and what instigated these shifts?
Growing up near Grasse in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, I developed a deep connection with the world of perfumery from an early age. My family background was diverse and contributed to my fascination with fragrance. A my father was a nuclear scientist, I have always been exposed to the latest developments in physics, and innovation was a common topic at home. My mother was an artist and model who worked with the famous haute-couture house Nina Ricci in Paris. My brother also works for Nina Ricci Parfums – now PUIG.
I initially studied law, drama and art, so I’ve always had a creative and entrepreneurial spirit. While I started my career organising high-end events for global brands, my true passion was always in the perfumery process. Becoming a perfumer had been a lifelong dream, and I knew that one day I would find myself here. My journey has also involved a profound appreciation for Artistic Direction in both stage and film. The creative process of crafting narratives from inception to fruition is second nature to me. This affinity for storytelling significantly influences my approach. Each scent, in my view, is a unique narrative – a composition delicately unfolding on the skin, invoking emotions, attaching themselves to memories or creating new ones, and enriching overall wellbeing.
What’s a scent that has a particularly strong emotional impact on you? Is there an associated memory with this?
White Floral – this scent transports me back to my childhood in the South of France. I vividly recall opening my bedroom window and being greeted by the enchanting smells of jasmine, which seemed to envelop the walls of our house. The air was also filled with the delightful aromas of orange blossom, tuberose, and honeysuckle. These floral notes carry my imagination home – on a vivid journey through beautiful, sunlit rooms surrounded by nature, and the whimsical feeling of childhood nostalgia. It’s a sensory time machine, associated with the sunny, carefree days of a blossoming youth in the French Riviera.
How did you come up with the unique formulations and names for each of your products?
This was a creative endeavour guided by a commitment to traditional haute parfumerie. The formulations were crafted through a process that drew inspiration from the names themselves, ensuring a connection to the essence they are designed to convey. The choice of French names for the Eaux de Parfum were intentional, adding a touch of tradition and sophistication. These names both resonate with me personally and reflect the primary ingredient – so it’s a fine blend of technicality, traditional artistry, and emotional memory.
We also believe in merging tradition with innovation, particularly through our ‘Boosters‘. These Boosters are designed to customise the experience, and their names are intentionally written in English for a more global audience. The Boosters’ names are carefully chosen to relate to the emotions they convey, and they are a unique fusion of neuroscience and perfumery. It’s this marriage of tradition, innovation, and the universal language of emotions that defines our brand.
Tell us a little more about the ingredients and suppliers that you work with and how these are sourced?
We are committed to using the finest ingredients, harvested via the best extraction processes. To ensure responsible sourcing, we adhere to the Takasago Responsible Sourcing Policy. This policy is not only internal but extends to our business partners and their sub-contractors, emphasising the importance of alignment in understanding and adhering to ethical practices. To verify compliance and assess potential risks in areas such as human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption, we ask our suppliers to respond to the Takasago Responsible Sourcing Policy self-assessment questionnaire, or the Sedex questionnaire.
From a neuro-psychological perspective, what exactly are emotions, and how are different brain regions associated with different feelings?
As I feel more artistically inclined, I will explain this in a metaphorical way: emotions are like different colours on a palette which painters use to create art. Our brains have different areas that work together to produce these emotions. They include:
- Amygdala: Think of it as the part of the brain that adds intensity to our emotions, like making a colour more vibrant on the canvas. It’s especially involved in feelings like fear and excitement.
- Prefrontal Cortex: This is like the artist’s brush, helping us control and adjust our emotions based on the situation. It’s essential for making balanced choices.
- Insula: Imagine this as the part of the canvas where texture and depth are added to your painting. It helps us experience emotions like disgust and also makes us aware of our inner feelings.
- Hippocampus: Think of this as the memory bank which connects our past experiences to our current emotions, in much the same way as an artist drawing from sources of inspiration.
- Cingulate Cortex: This is like the artist’s palette with many different colours and shades. It’s involved in various emotional functions, from dealing with pain to making moral decisions. It runs from the frontal lobes toward the back of the brain, and is involved in various things such as emotional processing, pain perception, and cognitive control.
- Hypothalamus: Consider this the artist’s studio lighting, setting the mood and atmosphere for the artwork. It controls the physical aspects of emotions, like heart rate and hormones.
Together these brain regions work like a painter’s toolkit, creating the rich tapestry of emotions that we experience in our day to day life. This affects how we respond to situations, connect with others, and make choices that suit our environment.
What are some of your favourite products from the range right now, and what’s yet to come?
I have a soft spot for Jasmin Cruel, it was the first fragrance I ever envisioned, and has a rich infusion of tuberose – one of my absolute favourite scents. Another go-to for me is Rose Delice, a scent that brings a sense of calm. When it comes to the LifeBoost collection, my choices vary based on my mood. Right now, I’m reaching for Energy to lift my spirits in winter – as the seasons change and get darker, I can often feel a little low. Mixing them is also amazing, and Energy layered on Rose Delice makes for an exceptional wakeup call. When I want that extra confidence boost for a night out, I’m drawn to more intense eaux de parfum like Vanille Irrésistible and Cuir Sauvage, I love layering these two with a touch of the Boosters including Seduction or Love.
As a well-travelled founder, have you noticed if there is any variation in ‘emotional hygiene’ practices, traditions or expectations between the different cultures that you’ve experienced?
I have noticed that different cultures have distinct approaches to emotional wellbeing and self-care. For instance, in the Mediterranean region, where I have spent a significant part of my life, there’s a strong emphasis on taking time for one’s Self, savouring the simple pleasures of life, and cherishing connections with family and friends. This lifestyle aligns closely with the ethos of Edeniste, where emotional wellbeing is a central theme.
In some Asian cultures, mindfulness and practices like meditation play a vital role in the concept of emotional hygiene. I find it fascinating how diverse approaches to emotional wellbeing are across the world. In the Middle East, where there is a deep affinity for fragrances like rose, musk, and oud, individuals have a tradition of perfuming themselves, even before going to bed.
These aromatic rituals not only serve as personal grooming but also connect people to their cultural heritage. The love for these scents reflects a rich history of using fragrances for both adornment and spiritual significance. They create a soothing and serene atmosphere, promoting relaxation and emotional stability. These experiences have reinforced my belief in the universal power of scent as a tool for enhancing wellbeing and transcending cultural boundaries – sharing the common goal of nurturing the soul and promoting a sense of inner peace.
Harnessing Great Business Scents
Where do your customers and distributors find you, or how do you find them?
Our customers and distributors discover us through many channels, primarily driven by our strong online presence. Our website serves as a central platform for engaging with fragrance enthusiasts and individuals seeking to elevate their wellbeing.
Our outreach strategy involves a blend of traditional marketing methods and the power of word of mouth. The uniqueness of our approach and the innovation inherent to our fragrances naturally attracts individuals who resonate with our passion and mission. Many people reach out to me directly on social platforms, expressing their interest in seeking to be part of our concept, which is testament to the international appeal of our brand.
What’s the smallest change that’s given the biggest return?
We have not really made small changes – we are creating an evolution in the world of fine fragrances. Something that has created significant impact was the decision to incorporate scientifically proven active molecules into our work. Our customers can now choose fragrances that align with their emotions, knowing that with Edeniste, they will not only smell good but also feel good, as demonstrated by both the empirical and anecdotal evidence.
Do any customers use or benefit from the products in ways you didn’t expect?
Yes, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the ways in which our customers have embraced and benefited from our products. While our fragrances were primarily designed to enhance emotional wellbeing, what we discovered is that they have had an incredible effect on calming children as well – helping them relax and find comfort.
Fragrant Founder Feelings
What motivates you?
What motivates me is the profound belief that we can improve the lives of individuals through the unique power of scent. The idea of positively impacting people’s emotional wellbeing is at the core of everything we do at Edeniste. This mission is a constant source of inspiration, driving me to innovate and push the boundaries of perfumery and emotional science.
What has been your biggest lesson, fear, or failure?
One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is the importance of persistence. Creating Edeniste and pioneering a new category in perfumery was not without its challenges and setbacks. However, these experiences have taught me that even in the face of adversity, determination and belief in one’s mission can lead to worthwhile outcomes.
In terms of fears, I don’t view them as debilitating obstacles but rather as opportunities for growth and improvement. I believe in turning criticism into inspiration and ‘creating to critique’. Building a beauty brand is undeniably challenging, requiring mental tenacity and vision. These aspects are integral to any entrepreneurial journey and have reinforced the importance of self-confidence and emotional resilience.
Regarding failure, I see it as a necessary stepping stone toward success. The path to achieving our goals often involves encountering failures and setbacks. Each setback has provided valuable lessons and has ultimately contributed to the evolution and improvement of what we have today.
Do you have a mentor or people you ask for advice?
Yes, I am fortunate to have Gabriel Lepousez as a mentor in neuroscience, providing invaluable guidance in the fields of science and scent. Additionally, I am surrounded by a fantastic group of investors who generously share their wealth of knowledge and advice. For business advice and strategy, I frequently turn to Anthony Pratt, Eric and Romain Peugeot, seeking their insight and expertise to navigate the challenges and opportunities in the industry. Their collective mentorship contributes significantly to the growth and success of our brand.
How do you manage your strengths and weaknesses?
Managing strengths and weaknesses is an ongoing process. I believe it’s crucial to leverage one’s strengths while actively working on improving weaknesses. My strengths lie in creativity, determination, and a passion for innovation. These strengths drive me to continually push the boundaries of what’s possible.
On the other hand, weaknesses are opportunities for growth. I constantly seek to enhance my knowledge in various areas and surround myself with experts who complement my weaker points. This collaborative approach has proven to be effective in managing both my strengths and areas for improvement.
How has what you do changed you as a person?
Engaging in Edeniste has been transformative for me personally. It has provided an avenue for me to fully express my passion and creativity, allowing me to bring my lifelong dream to fruition. However, the demands of managing the business, combined with my role as a mother, sometimes presents significant challenges. Juggling these responsibilities has required me to develop resilience, adaptability, and effective time management, ultimately contributing to my personal growth and evolution.
If time and money were no object – what would be on your to do and to see list?
If time and money were no constraint, my to-do and to-see list would be a grand tapestry of exploration and creation. I would embark on a never-ending journey to discover the world’s most captivating destinations, drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and breathtaking landscapes. Simultaneously, I would invest in cutting-edge scientific research, particularly delving into the mysteries of the brain and its profound influence on emotional wellbeing. I would envision sponsoring my own research program and contributing to furthering advancement in this field.
Additionally, with a deep commitment to community and education, I would dedicate my resources to teaching children about the significance of olfaction, fostering an early understanding of the senses, and the importance of EQ not just IQ. Establishing a charity focused on the intersection of emotional wellbeing and education would be a meaningful endeavour. This combination of personal exploration and philanthropy would form the essence of my aspirations.