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My OC: Nicole Mather's Business Makes Good Scents

air-love
Love is in the Air

You might say Nicole Mather’s life of haute parfumerie happened by divine inspiration. After she married a Pimco executive, Mather left a high-powered career in financial services and research sales. While working at such firms as Goldman Sachs, she had found the most exciting part of her work to be interviewing entrepreneurs about how they started their firms and had always said to herself: Someday …

Flash forward to a Sunday at Mariners Church, where Mather was listening to a talk about helping those in need. She noticed a delicious perfume scent as a woman walked by her. The smell instantly made her feel relaxed and happy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, she mused, to enrich people’s lives by creating beautiful scents? In that moment, House of Sillage was born – although it took a few years of research and convincing the most famous “noses” (perfume creators) in France that this sunny Southern Californian and mother of two was serious about entering the elite world of luxury fragrance.  

“I started knocking on all these doors, saying I wanted to create something truly unique. The reaction was, ‘Really? That’s  nice. (Eye roll.) This woman clearly has nothing better to do,’ ” says the slim blonde. But Mather has had the last laugh: Since launching the Newport Beach-based perfumery in 2011, her ever-expanding fragrance line has garnered international awards at competitions like the Formes de Luxe every year. Adds Mather: “Now I almost feel bad about showing up to the awards – almost.”

Indeed, by any objective measure, the products deliver that “wow” factor, such as the limited line, which retails upwards of $1,200 and features hand-polished glass bottles in the shape of a cupcake, designed with tops that feature gold plating, Swarovski crystals, emeralds, mother of pearl inlay and other exquisite detailing meant to stimulate our visual and tactile senses as much as the contents aim to enthrall our sense of smell.

From her office overlooking Fashion Island, Mather presides over a company whose products reach 48 countries, but Mather always has her eye on the horizon.

My neighborhood: Newport Coast.

Why I live there: I live here because my husband works at Pimco, but I could live anywhere in the world, really. I enjoy learning about new cultures. The U.S. is my home, but I was born in Romania – in Transylvania, actually! I came here when I was 3 and grew up in California. Because my parents have an accent and are European, I learned to accept and embrace other cultures. This is one gift I have been given with this business: Because we have 300 points of sale worldwide, I have learned about so many different cultures and different lifestyles. It is fascinating.

My perfect day: I have to bring in my kids for my perfect day. Just to hang out with them, like a weekend skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Play in the snow and have snow fights, and come in and laugh and joke. It is all about family at the end of the day.

My sanctuary: My closet! I close my door; people can’t find me for some reason. It’s that one place where I can go and be alone. I sit and I think. I have a white rug – it’s funny because you’d think that’s where you put your shoes on, but I actually have to step out of my closet to put my shoes on.  It’s comfy in there; I’ve got a window. No one is bothering me, and I am just resting. I just lie on the floor and look out the window.

iPhone or Android? iPhone.

Dodgers or Angels? Neither, really.

Red wine or white? White.

On your nightstand: My Bible, which is something that I like to read whenever I have a moment, especially before bed. I also read to my kids. And then of course I have a lamp, a bottle of water because I am always thirsty in the night, and my iPhone, which is my alarm clock – and I am the crazy person who wakes up at 3 o’clock and writes myself a note.

Late-night haunt: Working in the finance industry, one of the things we did was entertain a great deal. Not so much anymore, but entertaining was something I did a lot. I still have that entertaining bug, so you may find me at some club somewhere throughout the world with our customers. At 6 in the morning we will close the place. I love dancing. I think, ‘Am I crazy? Why am I still staying out?’ I will have like two hours of sleep.

Favorite place outside of California: Paris. I go there a lot for business. I stay at the George V. When I first launched my fragrances I had to get that account no matter what. There was no question I had to be the fragrance in the shop. That’s my home away from home.

Favorite store that is not a chain: There is a beautiful store in Dubai called Atelier, and the gentleman who owns it just really loves fragrance. So when you walk into the shop it looks so regal with beautiful glass chandeliers, the walls are beautifully decorated in fabric with gray and white hues, just perfect luxury.  I love little mom and pop shops everywhere. In Jackson Hole I walked into this little store and there was a stuffed squirrel holding a gun. I was like, that is awesome! It’s so off-the-wall.

Favorite local restaurant: I love Fig & Olive, I love Andrea, I love The Dock. I am a creature of habit.

Pet peeves: I hate being late. I think that with my kids in the morning I’m a little military, like, “We have to be at school on time.” I’m hardly late, and when I am it just drives me nuts.

Least favorite scent: The funny thing is, I use this in our fragrances: oud (a rare type of resin found in certain types of mold-infected Southeast Asian agar trees). It’s very animalistic in its raw form. You’re like, how can anybody like this and who thought of this? But when you put it into a fragrance, it is fascinating how it combines with other scents. Civet is also used in fragrance – it’s a gland, actually a cat’s anus, sometimes a goat – I mean, who thought of that? Or the throw-up of a whale that ends up on the beach – that is used in fragrances. When you smell it in its raw form you think: People are out of their minds. But then when it’s put in with other things, the combination is wow. These noses have incredible talent to use these components and come up with something beautiful.

Personal motto? Never give up. I can’t understand a “no.” I hear it all the time, but it doesn’t faze me.


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