Memento Vivere: Editor’s Letter, October 2014

At the end of August, my friend Jen Thomas convinced me to join her at a custom scent–making shop in Thousand Oaks, Calif., to spend what I then considered an obscene amount of money ($200) on a relatively small amount of perfume.

I’ve been on the hunt for a signature scent for as long as I can remember, but the graveyard of spent perfume bottles cluttering my bathroom shelf made me wonder if there was such a thing. I was skeptical when we arrived at the Blending Bar. But as founder Sarah Horowitz and her protégé, Debra Piver, seduced our olfactory nerves with tantalizing scents—pikake, blood orange, sweet lime—stored in a rainbow of apothecary bottles, I found it hard to suppress my giddiness. Jen and I each narrowed down our favorite smells until we had a combination of base notes, bouquets, and top notes that pleased us on a visceral level.

Afterward, I could barely stop inhaling myself. The pure oil roll-on and ½ ounce eau de parfum I came away with—I named it Memento Vivere, after my favorite phrase, Latin for “remember to live”—had all the makings of my signature scent, and not just because its mix of exotic and floral aromas is my brand of deliciousness.

We couldn’t resist the cotton candy at dinner in Lafayette, La., with JCK’s Randi Gewertz, Stuller’s Ashley Brown, and JCK senior editor Emili Vesilind.

The experience of creating my own perfume, and doing so with a dear friend, was so much fun that when my bottle runs dry, I intend to order a supersize version.

The ability to offer bespoke services—be they custom-designed engagement rings or one-on-one shopping experiences of the type that appeal to millennial shoppers, as noted in contributor Kristin Young’s insightful Luxury Spotlight feature on how Gen Y shops (“The Young and the Excess: What Jewelers Need to Know About Millennials”)—will set savvy retailers apart from their middling competitors in the months and years to come.

There’s no better time to test that theory than now, as we buckle down for the 2014 selling season. Our annual Holiday Survival Guide contains the essentials of merchandising in the fourth quarter—from both visual and inventory perspectives—so that retailers can focus on the selling.

James S. Sullivan
Biking through New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood was a highlight of our two-day blitz through the Big Easy.

To aid and abet that effort, read contributor Daniel P. Smith’s feature on Small Business Saturday, which tells you how you can take advantage of this year’s popular retailing promotion, taking place Nov. 29.

Elsewhere in this sumptuous issue (big shout-outs to senior art director Lance Pettiford and photo editor Leah Rudolfo for orchestrating the exquisite still-life shots in “Gilty Pleasures”), we cover the unveiling of the long-awaited Apple Watch (Jewel Box).

Vanessa Friedman, writing in The New York Times, came to the same conclusion news director Rob Bates did about the buzz-worthy wearable: “I don’t think Patek Philippe should be shivering in its boots.” Indeed, our interview with the brand’s USA president, Larry Pettinelli, proves the point.

In a similar vein, as publisher Mark Smelzer, regional sales manager Randi Gewertz, and I joined Stuller marketing director Ashley Brown in New Orleans in early September for two decadent days of bike-riding, boozing, and dining on the eve of Stuller’s always-informative Bridge Conference in Lafayette, La., the threat posed by wearable tech was all but forgotten. We were too busy living.

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