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  1. #1

    Default Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Was in LA recently and decided to check out Le Labo's store on 3rd Ave. Having just visited Scent Bar and having a great experience, I was pumped to try something new. So, one of the first things I notice is that the lighting in the store is non-existent, and the place looks like the Batcave laboratory replete with bottles on the wall, a long bar and a huge refrig in the corner. Scents were sparsely laid out on a table with metal clapse holding scented paper strips which I like to call Mistake #1. Who knows when the strip was sprayed so you don't know which stage you are smelling. At least with spraying the strip yourself, you know it's the topnotes you're smelling.. Methinks they do this to conserve juice, more on that later.

    After smelling the Rose one (forget the dada-ripoff "number"), Mistake #2 (the female SA) walks up. Asked for more info on it such as can you tell me more about the notes - structure, synthetic or natural, etc. She goes into a long diatribe as to how "natural" all their frags are and how expensive the ingrediants are. OK, I'm curious to see how they react to my skin, but I'm already covered in juice from Scent Bar and my own so I ask for a sample. "We don't do samples", she says (Mistake #3). I ask, "Then how am I supposed to sample it?" "Well," she says, "you can go online and order samples". "Then what's the point of having a store?" I mumble to myself. She then proceeds to tell me that "niche" fragrance brands don't do samples (Mistake #4) as I think about my carded & FREE samples from Malle, L'Artisan & Lutens sitting at home. Plus, any company that prices their juice over $100 needs to freely sample at their store.

    "So, what's in the bottles on the shelf?", I ask. "Those are extract oils we use in a our fragrances. Would you care to smell some?" "Sure, can I smell the Oudh one?" "Sure" "Is it the real or synthetic?" "It's real!" (Mistake #5) she says. "That's quite extraordinary as real Oudh is extremely rare and expensive. Anyway, which Le Labo frag has Oudh in it?" "None that I'm aware of". OK, let's smell Calone. She then tells me that it was used in Cool Water which may or may not be true. OK, which Le Labo has Calone in it? "None to my knowledge." "So, you just keep these bottles out to show off that Le Labo are experts in perfumery but do not use most of these extracts in your frags," I mumble to myself. OK, time to go. I later learn that when you buy a frag in the store, they actually mix the juice right there and then and write your name on the label. Most perfumers will tell you that you need at least 3 to 4 weeks for the juice to settle & mix properly (Mistake ##, I lost count).

    To summarize, a dimwit SA, a pretentious philosophy, and no FREE samples equal no sales with me. This is how NOT to sell fragrance. Save your time and money and go somewhere else like Scent Bar. They at least know how to treat you right.
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I agree with most of what you said. Fragrance shops tend to do the same mistake here. Personally I can never tell whether I like a perfume or not from a card; it may smell differently on me, it may make me feel uncomfortable etc...

    Also I agree with you on samples; for some fragrances no free sample = no sale.

    But most SA's I encounter have no experience or don't really know what they are talking about so I usually dismiss it down to lack of training.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I haven't heard of any in-store experiences but they do have this certain snobbery about perfumery. How there shop looks is just their thing, and I think the sprayed cards were for the ones who wanted to get straight to the dry-down (fast forward a little), and you could probably still put a new spray on a card and test the topnotes.

    I emailed them back when they first started up in NY and asked for a sample of R31 and received a 5ml spray a couple weeks later for free....

    Too bad about your experience, the Patchouli 24 and Rose 31 are some of the best perfumes I've smelt in the last year or so, and I really recommend checking them out.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Very interesting. Maybe Le Labo thinks that mixing and labeling the jus in front of you is just enough "costumer service" to keep people coming back.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    That's a bloody mess of a store you describe.

    I'm particularly miffed with the "no samples" policy the stores (even malls) have here.... I don't wanna just spritz myself with the frag all over from the tester and base my decision on that, I wanna give it a full wearing using a sample and then decide whether to drop my cash or not! *shakes fist in anger*


    PVC and Leather. A Chain and a feather




  6. #6

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I had a poor experience in their NY store when it first opened. I've been back since and they seemed to have gotten better staffed here. I think that having all the aroma chemicals available is pretty cool, where else are you going to smell civet and castoreum, synthetic or not?
    I don't have a problem with the test strips of the dry downs, but they should have a bottle out to spritz yourself with. The Le Labo concept of adding the alcohol in front of the customer and printing their name/date of purchase on the bottle is a bit too precious for me.
    And yes, I want some samples, too!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Any company that tells you that you have to toss out the fragrance that you bought last year, because it "expired", is highly suspect. Does that mean that Le Labo fragrances go bad quicker than others? Or is it a clever marketing ploy and their just greedy? Or both?

    On a side note, Rose 31 is fantastic. I'm glad I got some in a split though, because I'd hate to deal with them at the store, or order online for ridiculous prices.
    Last edited by somethinpositiv; 6th May 2008 at 09:20 PM.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I sent an e-mail about a week ago about how to obtain samples in Europe. They simply replied that I should visit them next time I was in New York. That's ohh... just shy of 6000km distance
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


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    ---

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    They have three stores in the U.S. after what, two years in operation?

    Caron has zero stores in the US after 104 years in operation.

    They must be doing something right.

    Also, when I was in the LA store the friendly male SA knew a lot about the notes and freely admitted that the civet in one of them wasn't natural.

    It's true that the store's a little spare-looking since they only sell a handful of fragrances, but they are called The Lab. Personally I prefer the concept to the stereotypical peacock-feather whorehouse look exemplified by places like Aedes in NYC.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Le Labo has great fragrances, but sounds likea real pain to deal with. Well, I love Patchouli 24 for the tar notes and the vanilla. I'll have to keep my eye peeled for a large decant or bottle split. Nowhere near their store ... so I cannot even get their BAD service! LOL!
    ===
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I believe Caron has a boutique in america, no? That sounds like a horror story. I wouldn't have bought anything either if I were treated like that.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Quote Originally Posted by jakelosangeles View Post
    Personally I prefer the concept to the stereotypical peacock-feather whorehouse look exemplified by places like Aedes in NYC.
    Yeah, I love it too. I haven't been in the shop, but seen pics and read about it. It sounds like something I'd be into and would love to shop in. Stipped-down and minimalistic.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I was trying to decide between Musc Ravageur and Rose 31 for my next big one and I think you just made that decision easier. With 4000 active members one basenotes, it's definitely not the group of people you want to cross if you're a small niche company.
    I'm a colognosaurus. Rawr!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Was there techno trance music pounding in the background? I hope so, because that would complete my mental picture of a pretentious uber-urban chic-er than thou boutique. [but I'm not bitter!].

    Actually, I agree with those who said, 1) don't sweat the SA; it's a given that you know way more than she does, so don't expect more than you got, and 2) despite the unbearable hype, I'm completely enamored with Rose 31 (haven't tried the Patchouli), and would be willing to endure line dancing to Billy Ray Cyrus at the Senior's Club if it landed me a bottle of the precious stuff.
    Last edited by Snafoo; 7th May 2008 at 02:49 AM.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    The head perfumer of Le Labo is supposed to be at Barney's in SF in the next couple of weeks. Not a structured presentation. More of a free-form question/answer thing. I'm looking forward to going. If they can schedule me at a time that I can go.

    I have no interest in their frags. But getting some vibes off of a big nose would be pretty cool.
    Brent

    Catherine Deneuve: "You should put scent where you like to be kissed."


  16. #16

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Sounds like a pretentious load of merde (sh*t). Who the hell do all these people think they are, for heavens sake they are in the business of selling. These types of places exist because they fulfill everyones masochistic streak of wanting to be accepted; like the fools who tried to get into exclusive clubs.
    My goodness; this weekend I went to the Lauder counter, and picked up a new bottle of Cinnabar. The SA was charming, she treated me with such respect, and sent me on my way with a deluxe sample of their new scent; Pure White Linen. All of that for a $33.00 purchase.
    Even when I have shopped at l'Artisan, Shiseido Salons du Palais Royal, or Creed in Paris, they were charming, answered all questions, and gave me lovely samples to try.
    But I guess as long as people clamor to spend their money at these 'Palaces of pretentiousness', this treatment of clients will continue.
    I for one will no longer stand for this, therefore I have abandoned any thoughts of trying all of these niche-houses. Give me a Lauder or Lancome counter any day, I will receive service, and lovely samples to enjoy.
    Quand on boit l'eau, il faut penser sa source

  17. #17

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Wow, I thought BN would rush to defend Le Labo. While I like Rose 31, lately, I have been finding this house more and more to be snooby and with a ridiculous concept. They have this confusion between urban/modern and a traditionalist you-have-to-come-to-our-store thing. They are good. But ridiculously overpriced.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Jeez. What a terrible experience. And such a contrast to some of the niche houses. I email many of the niche perfumers just to plead for samples, and so many of them are just really gracious and generous. Malle is notoriously wonderful, and sent me the two samples I requested in lovely 5ml sprays. Tauer was great, and even the Lutens rep sent me a couple samples one we had established a conversation. I have never been treated poorly or disrespected in any way, and mostly the reps are just thrilled to have a customer who is enthusiastic about their product. Seems like basic PR right? Looking at the Le Labo website, one does get the feeling that they take themselves a bit too seriously, a kiss of death in any artistic endeavor.
    I never did send them an introduction, though a couple of their frags have been on my list for a while. I should write them and send them a link to this thread.

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  19. #19

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Well, my nose told me that Calone was used in Le Labo frags. Methink it`s Neroli 36 frag. And Oud accord was used in Rose 31, according to site. So SA just show you her ignorance of the range, that`s it.
    In my e-mail contact with founders of LeLabo they also refuse to send any samples - and they recommended me to purchase it in Colette.

    I was in Colette, Paris last year and was shocked by the mess. Cafe nearby, loud music, scented hall, a lot of people...
    But SA was good enough to mix me the present for my wife (Iris 39 is just marvellous on both of us, and I got Patchouly before that from NY - my friend got it for me), and she also refuse to give me samples. Though I could spray anything on blotters or on my skin.

    Well, I accept their way of business.
    Some shops just do not need customers (like JAR, for another example), they need feeling of art.
    Vetiver The Great!!!

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I'm scheduled to meet Fabrice Penot at Barneys in San Francisco this Friday afternoon. Do you guys have a message for him that I can give without getting myself thrown out of the store?

    I don't know him at all, of course, so I have no idea if he would be open to constructive criticism; but if you guys think so, I might be able to screw up my courage...
    Last edited by JaimeB; 7th May 2008 at 05:33 AM.
    Yr good bud,

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    Let him who can hope for nothing despair of nothing.

    Seneca

  21. #21

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Do horrible SA stories ever end?
    Two weeks ago I was out seeking a sample of Dior Homme, I went to shop X, the SA was polite enough to smile and direct me to shop Y. At shop Y I met the rudest SA I have ever seen in my entire 5-month fragrance life. I came in and asked weather they have Dior Homme samples or minis, and that I am ready to buy them, he looked at me in a very rude way as in "we sure do, but seriously why should I give you any?" then said "no, and you won't find any store that would give you any." and then gave me another very weird, and very bad look. I was shocked, didn't know what to do, and walked away.
    Looking for a sample of Gucci Envy Me.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mostapha View Post
    Do horrible SA stories ever end?
    Two weeks ago I was out seeking a sample of Dior Homme, I went to shop X, the SA was polite enough to smile and direct me to shop Y. At shop Y I met the rudest SA I have ever seen in my entire 5-month fragrance life. I came in and asked weather they have Dior Homme samples or minis, and that I am ready to buy them, he looked at me in a very rude way as in "we sure do, but seriously why should I give you any?" then said "no, and you won't find any store that would give you any." and then gave me another very weird, and very bad look. I was shocked, didn't know what to do, and walked away.
    Ahh. was it a male or a female? You should've bitchslapped him/her anyway


    PVC and Leather. A Chain and a feather




  23. #23

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Male. I had better experiences with females. Not that they know anything (once asked to test Heritage only to get Habit Rouge on my arm and a baffled look on her face), but at least they smile and don't make it clear that they're bored of you.
    Looking for a sample of Gucci Envy Me.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Le Labo - was never interested in this house and never will be...

  25. #25

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    It is clear that they are trying to be the Studio 54 of fragrance.

    Here you've made the effort to go to their store in person, and then they tell you to go online to order samples. For that alone I would give them the finger.

    It reminds me of an episode of the Britcom "Absolutely Fabulous." The lead character goes to an art gallery to buy some investment grade modern art. The SA at the entry (played by a model) looks down at her with a glacial snobbery bordering on open hate. The lead quips, "You can drop the attitude you know, you only work in a shop."
    "When he shook hands with me my nostrils were assailed by all the perfumes of Arabia."
    - W. Somerset Maugham

  26. #26
    Scentronic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Of what I've tried (Rose and Patchouli), I've liked, but a company needs to know that samples are an enticement to buy! It is in a company's best interest to get as many of those samples out to the public (and especially fragrance collectors!) as possible!

    Snooty attitudes will turn me off even faster than an ugly accord...

    For a company to tell me to simply pick something up next time I'm in New York (etc) is like a slap in the face. Are you just assuming that everyone that might have an interest in your fragrances is a seasoned traveller who happens to pass through NY on a regular basis? I'll bet the retarded customer svc rep that dispenses this "advice" doesn't even have the means to follow it.

    I hope you're reading this, LeLabo. Get your shit together. You've already lost MY business...
    Lately I've been wearing:
    Windsor, Bois de Santal, Original Santal, Elixir, Douro, Endymion, Reflection, Arcus, Marwah

  27. #27

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Yeah, if any representatives of Le Labo are reading this, here's a personal message for you:


    KISS MY ASS!!!

  28. #28

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I'd stop by their place next time I am in NYC. Though I will say my expectations have been lowered by a lot. For me its about the juice, and not the sales experience,, bottle, packaging. So if I know I want Patchouli 24 I will order it online or go into the store and buy it there - the internet has given us a nice window on how to get samples (other BNers, Perfumed Court, the Le Labo website, etc. etc.) so it is easy to minimize exposure to those people if need be!
    Last edited by Bromo33333; 7th May 2008 at 03:18 PM.
    ===
    [I] recall thinking that the computer would never advance much further than this. Call me nave, but I seemed to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross. ~ David Sedaris

  29. #29

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I love the Patchouli and just bought the Vetiver (which is sitting until it properly macerates) but I get bugged by a lot of the rest of the blather on that line..

    I like the people at ScentBar a lot.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    I've had very different experiences withe Le Labo, I got sent 8 (yes eight!) five ml vials of their Rose 31 fragrance just when I enquired about the price of a 15ml bottle at Liberty in London. That could just be a fantastic SA, Sumaya, she was called

  31. #31

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Quote Originally Posted by Carlos View Post
    "You can drop the attitude you know, you only work in a shop."



    This is my attitude towards SA's completely.
    Even when I was a SA I remembered this, and it makes a better person of you. When will everyone wake up; If shop "Frou frou" had the last bottle of a scent I wanted, on earth, and were nasty to me, I would walk out. I would never give my money, no matter how desperately I wanted something, to anyone who did not treat me graciously and with respect. I will not die without a fragrance, a part of me dies if I give up my self-respect.
    Quand on boit l'eau, il faut penser sa source

  32. #32

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Quote Originally Posted by JaimeB View Post
    I'm scheduled to meet Fabrice Penot at Barneys in San Francisco this Friday afternoon. Do you guys have a message for him that I can give without getting myself thrown out of the store?
    JaimeB, ask him for samples.

    On second thought...scratch THAT idea.
    Last edited by knightowl; 7th May 2008 at 06:10 PM.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Quote Originally Posted by knightowl View Post
    JaimeB, ask him for samples.

    On second thought...scratch THAT idea.
    Maybe I'll ask him in French and see if I get them that way...
    Yr good bud,

    JaimeB

    "Why spend life seeking that which does not satisfy? Why remain a slave, when freedom waits? Let your life shine; illumine the world with your truth!"

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    Fiat justitia ruat clum.

    Let justice be done, even if the sky should fall.

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    Qui nihil potest sperare, desperet nihil.
    Let him who can hope for nothing despair of nothing.

    Seneca

  34. #34

    Default Re: Le Labo - A lesson in how NOT to sell fragrance...

    Unfortunately even the best companies hire rude people unknowingly. I think it's rather unfair to categorize a company in any particular way based on experience with one employee. If one encounters bad service, it's best to tell the manager or owner of the store.
    Currently digging: Le Labo Rose 31 and Oud oils.

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