We discussed the new Pescara fragrance (a hybrid between ambiance perfume and body mist), the expansion of the Beauties Lab boutique in a global pandemic context and the future of various projects with founder Léa Bégin. Here are the words of an entrepreneur who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves!
Article & translation by Laurie-Han Hébert, photography by Ana Camila
 
This article prioritizes:
✓ Local production and handmade products
✓ Clean beauty

 

The creative process and success behind the “hybrid perfume” Pescara

When we came for the launch of your store, you told us about your personal process by saying “You want to be more natural, but if on top of that, you can use products that are going to be good for you, it will just make even more sense. Today there are products out there that are good for us. » How does Pescara follow this guideline?                         
LÉA: [By] the fact that it’s done in Montreal, by a true perfume artist who is extraordinary and named Dana El Masri. Then because it’s done by hand, so in small batches, in smaller quantities. It’s less [like] the big companies, the big perfumes that everyone knows that are sold everywhere. 
“It’s not a natural product. They are not essential oils. It’s a perfume, but there are fewer ingredients to preserve it longer. So there is less of “uncool” stuff about [this] perfume. “
– Léa Bégin, founder and owner of Beauties Lab

 

Pescara is a “bouquet to mist” that transports clients to Italy, to the Adriatic Sea, to summer and to the desire that it never ends. Why did you choose this feeling?
LEA: Well actually I didn’t know I was going for that feeling. At the [beginning] Pescara did not have a name, a logo, brand image, history around it. There was nothing because it was internal. It’s a smell that was developed for the store. When I had the idea to open the Lab it was in January 2019. So in February I started I started the process of opening the boutique and then moved forward to an opening in May.
In February, before I even knew it was going to be called Beauties Lab, before I even knew what brands I was going to sell, I reached out to Dana to ask if she was doing custom scents. I had memories of when I had been to certain establishments. Whether it’s a hotel, whether it’s a shop, a restaurant … Those who had a smell that you notice when you enter, or that you do not notice… But that when you return there a second time, that smell, the feeling makes you feel at home… You are in a familiar territory, it creates a souvenir, a memory. I find it exciting these little things that make it become a bit of an almost multisensory experience. So even though I started the project with my own money, a big part of that small budget went into developing a scent. I thought it was a fun project. It was to make me, the clients, have a good time. It didn’t have a name or a story.
 
Can you tell us a little more about the creative process of the perfume in collaboration with Dana El Masri?
LEA: Dana told me “Yeah I can do it no problem. Just bring me a mood board and a couple of sentences. Just explain to me what you want to create. How you want people to feel.” So I went to Pinterest, made a board called “perfume” and I was like “This is the kind of vibe I want to recreate.” It was a lot of images of skin, freshness, fruits, water, travel, nostalgia. A very feminine side, but at the same time not girly. It was all of that together. It took me 20 minutes to put these photos together. I sent [it to her] … I wrote a paragraph that took me 3 minutes, I sent [it] again. She said perfect, come meet me. I walk into her studio, then she starts with her little bottles. She makes a little concoction and then approaches it towards my nose. She said to me “Is that what you mean? ” I was like “Oh my god, that’s exactly it. I don’t know how you did it”. I laughed and thought, “This is the most exciting thing ever. I did well to put my money in there and I’m sure there is going to be something going to come out of that.
I had two [fragrance] diffusers. She was like “put in this much drops and it should be okay”, so that’s what we did. Then it even smelled in here (referring to the hallway). People who worked would come to us and say: “It smells so good!” All the customers… I would say 9 out of 10 of them came to me asking what this smell was. I told them it was [from] me and Dana. They wanted to buy it and I was like: “Sorry you can’t.” It was like that for a few months. I decided to bring it to the market so that I could give people the option of bringing Beauties back home.
 
I had to find a name. I had to find why and how. When you want to put something on the market there has to be a story around it, an identity, something … This is when I had to go back and do a kind of rewind inside, deep down, and ask myself why I put these pictures there. What drove me and what that means to me. Then I started with the scent notes of the fragrance: peach, grapefruit, a note called sunscreen, rosebuds, musk … My father is Italian, and my parents had a house in Italy, so I went there often. Then “peach” in Italian is called “pesca”. Italy is the second largest producer of peaches. I was like “Ah! Pescara is the name of a town, close to where my parents had their home. It got me back in all this nostalgia for travel, and my parents when they had to, not long ago, sell that house because they are getting old. Having a chalet in the Eastern Townships is one thing, but having a chalet in Italy… Let’s say you must not get sick. I decided to call it Pescara. My parents were very touched.
Director: Estelle Abou Director of Photography: Juliette Lossky Assistant on Set: Nastia Cloutier-Ignatiev Color Grading: Simon Bøisx Music : Kicktracks – Dive in the water feat.Medeia A special thank you to Louis Bégin, Julia Johnson, Antoine Ryan & Cinéground.
Then I decided to make a nice little packaging. I wrote to one of my friends Marie-Philippe Jean for her to write a little story. She wrote a really beautiful poem. Everyone who worked on this, I showed them the mood board, the paragraph, and that’s it. Then it [created] that. Marie-Philippe used the same thing to write; the girls who did the branding, the team I made the video with, my friend JF who gave me the idea to make a cover that looks like a peach, same thing too. So it’s really a cumulative of people around me that I find super cool, who have given me inputs.

So we can say that it was very spontaneous at the beginning!
LEA: “Yes. Because the goal was not to release one more product on Earth. “
– Léa Bégin, founder and owner at Beauties Lab

Léa Bégin & Pescara sprayed everywhere in the Beauties Lab store!
Pescara is both a room fragrance and a body mist. Where do you spray it at home?
LEA: In my room, on my bed… Then I put some on me, a little in my hair, and sometimes I put some in my wardrobe, on my cushions, on my couch. Sometimes I have bouquets of dried flowers, so I put some on the flowers.
This is the kind of product that is fun to bring on vacation. I always bring a candle for the bedroom. I’m really picky about smells and I’m afraid it will stink all the time. So this is the kind of product that I bring.
When I take a bath, I close the door. The hot water makes steam. Then I vaporize a few sprays at the top of my bath. So my brain associates a moment of relaxation with this smell. When I put it on, there is a part of me that transport itself there too.
 
What are the most surprising places your customers have told you they’ve sprayed it in their homes?
LEA: That’s a great good question, but I haven’t gotten any feedbacks yet. I had some really nice comments. There was someone who told me that she is trying to sell her house, that she received the perfume and that she is convinced that the perfume will help her attract new buyers! I am too. Usually even men don’t find it too feminine. It affects everyone. At the beginning you have this fresh side, then after it wraps you up. Like when you lie, sleeping on hot sand. It’s really that feeling.
 
The perfume was quickly sold out when it was launched. Why do you think the perfume has had all this media attention and importance among customers? Did that surprise you?
LEA: The reason they all sold out, I think, is because it comes from the heart. When it comes from the heart, it connects with the world. The second reason would be because there are a lot of people who have [already] smelled it. There are a lot of people who were waiting for this, who came to buy it and were like, “I’m one of the customers who came in the beginning (at the launch of Beauties Lab) and asked you for that smell. Then you listened to us and you did it.” There are some people who bought two bottles. The fact that it is not expensive. The fact that it’s $ 65, instead of $ 150, that it’s not a real perfume … It’s a purchase that’s less engaging. So it worked really well online. At worst you give it as a gift. At worst you just put it in your home and not on you. I think the fact that it’s hybrid also helped sales.

The influence of the pandemic

In your blog post, you mentioned organizing a “big event in a beautiful hotel” to launch this perfume. Then the pandemic literally “took the ground from under your feet.” In hindsight, do you now see this mostly as good or bad?
LEA: [Something] bad for [something] good [to happen] because it wasn’t something that was needed. It was something I did to get others excited too. I wanted to make people experience something. I wanted to introduce Dana, I wanted to show the video, introduce the team, to dive into Pescara. This is what I wanted to do.
” I couldn’t do it. It forced me and taught me to let go. It taught me that I can launch a product, even if it’s just online. “
– Léa Bégin, founder and owner at Beauties Lab
If I am able to launch a perfume online in 2020, there is a lot of things that I’m capable of doing [laughs]!

 

COVID has affected a lot of stores and it has also affected Beauties Lab. Why did you choose to expand your commercial space in this context?
LÉA: COVID affected everyone. But I was more affected physically, psychologically, personally, because I worked a lot. I was already working a lot. I already had a little burnout in 2019. I would say that my goal was not to go back there. I worked a lot.
The store, when I started it, I thought it was going to be a small studio so that I could welcome my clients that I see during the shoots to give them makeup lessons, give them options for clean beauty, but I didn’t see it like that. I honestly didn’t think it was going to get that big. I didn’t expect to grow so quickly. Except that we had already talked about it with the girls next door. They were the girls from White Closet. During COVID they wanted to get rid of one of their units. They took the inventory of wedding dresses and moved it to La Petite Robe’s space. We had already discussed this. I told them “if you ever leave, I’ll surely take it,” if only to control the sound next door for the facials.
When they got rid of it, they texted me right away to tell me the unit was free. But there we were at the end of March/beginning of April. It was the most intense moment. Everyone was losing their job.
“I had no idea when we were going to be allowed to do facials again. When are going to reopen? We had no idea. We walked with our eyes closed. I thought it would be really stupid for me to take it, and it would be really stupid if I didn’t. So I took it. “
– Léa Bégin, founder and owner at Beauties Lab
[I thought] since we are expanding [our space], we’re going to rebrand, because now is the best time to do it. Then since we are expanding, we will do renovations!

A peek into the future

Do you have anything to add concerning our interview and the future of your projects?
All of this sets the tone of my last few months: Pescara, the COVID, the expansion [of the store]. I became incorporated… All of that alone. It was really fun, but at the same time very difficult.
“It looks like everyone has experienced COVID differently. For me it went really good, but for it to go well, I had to [be persevering] at work.”
– Léa Bégin, founder and owner at Beauties Lab

For Beauties, we’re going to take it all in. We have a new beautician that we’re training. I might like to develop online [business] a bit more for the rest of Canada. But otherwise I intend to stay here a little while. I do not intend to go storefront. That’s not what my heart is telling me right now. Otherwise, I personally moved. I got back where I used to live in Saint-Lambert. And I’m really happy about that!

Where to find this eco-chic beauty salon

Here’s also the address details of Beauties Lab if you want to go have a peek, either physically, or virtually:
Store: Château St-Ambroise, 4030 St-Ambroise St. #219, Montréal, QC H4C 2C7
Beauties Lab online store: https://beautieslab.co
 

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