Kuwait’s Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, the notable founder of fashion retail chain Villa Moda, is no stranger to the fashion and beauty world.
Reputed for bringing brands like Gucci to the Middle East, Al-Sabah collaborated with Tom Ford to launch ‘Arabian Wood’, a perfume created specifically for Tom Ford’s Kuwait boutique opening. The fragrance went on to become a worldwide best-seller, and after that success, he decided to go one step further. After years in the making, The Fragrance Kitchen (TFK), a home-grown luxury fragrance brand, launched in 2012.
Perfumes are a family tradition for Al-Sabah. “At home, mixing fragrances is my hobby, influenced by my grandmother. When I was a child, I used to watch her mixing her own blends and then I started mixing them myself,” Al-Sabah said in an interview with Style.com/Arabia.
As a brand, TFK was designed to build on Al-Sabah’s experiences in the fashion sector and apply that framework to the fragrance industry. “We wanted to be very much influenced by the fashion cycle, so we have a new product every month to stay fresh. Fashion stores have new merchandise every month, so why can’t the same idea apply for fragrances?” And given the in-depth cycles involved in developing and perfecting a scent, this is an ambitious goal.
And while TFK is intended to retain a distinctly Middle Eastern feel (with the exception of the manufacturing process, the brand is designed and managed regionally), Al-Sabah notes that his strategy has been to grow TFK as an international brand before growing it regionally. To that end, after launching the initial TFK boutique in Kuwait, Al-Sabah launched boutiques in Milan, Florence, and Moscow.
To expand more rapidly, Al-Sabah is now partnering with retailers to distribute TFK fragrances, and recently signed with Bloomingdale’s at the Dubai Mall to launch a shop-in-shop. Some of TFK’s unisex perfume collections will be sold, including its ‘Signature’ and ‘Exclusive’ line of fragrances, which Al-Sabah conceived by blending traditional Middle Eastern ingredients with the century-old know-how of a laboratory in Grasse, France’s perfume capital. Al-Sabah likens the Signature and Exclusive lines to ready-to-wear and couture, respectively—the Signature line fragrances are cleaner and lighter, while the Exclusive line fragrances have more specific and expensive ingredients, bottle design, and packaging.
Aside from Dubai, additional launches are planned for 2014 in Jeddah (planned for April), Riyadh, London, the USA, Hong Kong, and Paris. In each location, TFK is in discussions to launch shop-in-shops with various retailers, including the likes of Selfridges, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Printemps. Based on success in these locations, Al-Sabah hopes to launch additional standalone TFK boutiques in the future.