HOOHAA x Aqua dos Açores Meet your Maker Questions
How long have you been working with fragrances? Please tell me the story behind creating Aqua dos Açores.
My background is far from the world of perfumery. I have a degree in philosophy, and I worked for many years in publishing, creating traditional and multimedia projects. I’m Italian, from Florence, but now I live almost permanently in the Azores, and this place has been the inspiration for Aqua dos Açores, giving it meaning, shaping it and making it possible. The alchemy between local, tropical and Mediterranean plants which coexist in this extraordinary environment and some essential oils produced here are at the basis of our formulas. Aqua dos Açores is the outcome of a cultural blend because it is in the great tradition of Italian perfumery that we have found expertise and production instruments that would not have been available in the Azores.
What are the factors that differentiate the product development of a niche fragrance brand from that of a mainstream one? How does Aqua dos Açores fit into this definition, and what do you see as the most unique differentiator among the competition?
I think that at this moment, the market is sensitive to smaller businesses which can offer added value in terms of products, environmental sensitivity and originality. Our whole project revolves around these elements. It will require some time, but I hope that in the long run, the brand will increasingly be understood and appreciated.
It must have been fairly daunting to conceptualise and launch your own brand. What has your experience been so far?
In my professional life, I have created many projects and directed their implementation. From this point of view, it was not very different, you start with an idea, then there is the market positioning, the graphic image, the production, etc. But in this case, there were also very important differences. Creating a new, small independent brand and putting it on the market is a huge and very difficult challenge. And it was even more difficult because I did it all by myself and with a very limited investment capacity. And also, consider that we had our first official market release at Pitti Fragranze in September 2019 and that at the end of February 2020, the pandemic started. I really love this project, but yes, at many moments, I was really daunted.
Describe Aqua dos Açores in 3 words.
Nature, Ocean, Sustainability
What do you think the future of niche luxury fragrance brands looks like? Do you think they will become more accessible and affordable or go in the opposite direction?
Niche perfumery differs from commercial perfumery in terms of quality and craftsmanship, so I think it will always remain a niche.
Where does your inspiration for new/unique fragrances come from?
The primary requirement of this project was the eco-sustainability of its formulas. We’ve dedicated lots of time to analysing raw materials, especially the indigenous ones, and the olfactory profiles, and to formulate blends which could enhance specific notes. We’ve opted to use precious raw materials such as extracts of local flowers, essential oils of wood species which are not at risk, and extracts from native aromatic plants, ensuring at the same time sustainable compositions with a modern twist and a strongly evocative personality.
Do you have a favourite bottle design? And what is the inspiration behind the Aqua dos Açores bottle design?
Our products are characterised by an apparent simplicity, behind which there is a great deal of work. Boxes and labels, for example, are made of natural paper and have hot gold details and small relief elements that are the result of a complex printing process. We don't use plastic, the cap is made of wood, and we don't use cellophane.
What is the one fragrance note that you love above all others?
There are many, e.g. the tuberose
Is there a place in the world that you wish that you can bottle or locket?
I have already done so with the Azores.
When you are not immersed in the world of Aqua dos Açores, what do you like to do with your spare time?
Reading, listening to music, travelling. And working on this fantastic project of our wines, Adega do Vulcão.
What is after Aqua dos Açores? Are any new fragrances in the works?
Yes, we have 2 new perfumes, an EDP and a Home Fragrance, both in the amber oriental family, both precious and fantastic. They continue the storytelling of these islands, but this time with a historical slant, telling of the era of the great discoveries when Portuguese ships returned from the Far East laden with spices.
How would you like Aqua dos Açores to be thought of?
Like an olfactory travel diary. A sensorial tale of one of the most beautiful and preserved places in the world
What does luxury mean to you?
Luxury is simplicity
Would you describe your brand as luxury or/and affordable luxury?
As an accessible and sustainable luxury. Of course, quality can't be cheap, but we still try to keep our prices in an affordable range.