Celine Martin - The Art of Fragrances

Perfumes are meant to be inspired by 'real' surroundings. Sadly, very few understand that. Celine Martin is one of those who do...who integrates her French personality and Indian roots to create emotive fragrances...

By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: February 10, 2011
Perfumes are meant to be inspired by ‘real’ surroundings. Sadly, very few understand that. Céline Martin is one of those who do…who integrates her French personality and Indian roots to create emotive fragrances…
Meadows upon meadows filled with bright coloured flowers, a green forest dominated by sandalwood trees, a fragrant Indian kitchen swirling with the scents of cardamom – these are just some of the visuals evoked by Céline Martin’s perfumes…
Perfumes are not just about smelling ‘good’, they are also meant to smell ‘you’. What is a perfume if you can’t discern the different notes in it? Just a fine smelling liquid? The power, and importance of smelling yourself, has been very well worded by our columnist Veronique Poles in this issue. The luxury of intimacy, which you get from your own unique scent, is unmatchable by any Valentine partner probably!
Artist perfumer Céline Martin, who launched her own niche perfume house ‘Sahlini Parfums’ in 2006, understands this very well - and this thinking reflects in her superior fragrances. Born in India, she was seven months old when she was adopted by a French couple who took her to France. This little girl showed immense interest in arts from the very early ages. After completing her studies, she visited India, from where she returned both enchanted and confused, and decided to share her emotions with the rest of the world through her own perfume brand Sahlini Parfums. Her first fragrances were created under the strong impression of her trip to India. Martin, who looks after every aspect of her perfume business, says, “I work like an artist, like starting with a blank canvas, and then the art work takes shape step by step.”
Martin gives a heart-felt interview to LuxuryFacts, which my friend and columnist Veronique Poles helped to get! Here is our conversation with this beautiful lady…
LuxuryFacts: What is the meaning of Sahlini?
Céline Martin: ‘Sahlini’ is inspired by my Indian birth name ‘Shalini’. When I arrived in France, I got registered there with another French first name, ‘Céline’. And my last name too was obviously changed – Martin. Many Martins in France!
LF: How did you get into this business of creating perfumes?
CM: I started my career being a graphic designer when I was 25 years old. In 2006, I launched my own perfumery company, because in my childhood, I did not have any olfactory memory from my roots. I had no remembrance of the smells of the land where I was born. I was missing them without knowing them… It was a very strange sensation…
I was upset with this situation of not having olfactory memory which could have been a way to link me with India. Trying to figure out how they could be, I decided to create them, according to my own inspiration and imagination. The more I got involved in the process of creating the perfumes, the more I became connected to India. 
This has led me to believe that I could not have been anyone else except an artist- perfumer…it is my destiny. I am absolutely self-educated in this business. It took me two years to learn it, launch the brand and start my niche house. I handle all the positions myself.
LF: Being an Indian and French entrepreneurial woman at the same time, what does it mean for you in your daily life?
CM: I feel French in my opinions, my personality and visions of life… I am really influenced by my European culture, although my Indian origins are also very important. But sometimes I am confused as they are too difficult to understand. Now, I am travelling a lot for my business. It helps me discover other people, and to understand the differences between cultures. It gives me a rich experience and knowledge!
LF: Can you share with us some main steps to create perfumes?
CM: First, I taught myself how to make a perfume. Then I learnt the business aspects of setting up a company, starting production and partnering for distribution. Then, at the same time I worked on the design of the packaging. It is an art. I want my bottles to be original and pure. Every detail has to be coordinated in such a way that the final product matches the fragrance and the way you dreamt it.
For example, for my first creation, ‘La Femme’, a beautiful bottle was designed specially for a pure and subtle flowered spicy fragrance. On the other hand, for a male fragrance with fresh notes, the identity of the bottle is strong with a huge piece of wood for cap, brass medal and heavy French luxury glass. The creation should entirely be with top end raw materials in accordance with the French traditional know-how in perfumery.
LF: How do you bring that Indian touch in your creations?
CM: In the name of the brand first, which is inspired by my Indian name; in the fragrances notes like the typical Indian sandalwood (La Femme), cardamom (Femininde) or Jasmine (L’Homme); and in the design of the bottle using the medal which recalls the sound and glitter of anklets and the wooden cap that gives an exotic touch.
LF: How has the response being from the Indian market?
CM: My perfumes are available in selective stores and locations in France and in the rest of the world. It’s strictly positioned in the niche and luxury range to give scarcity to the brand. India is a large market, where niche brands such as mine should take time to find the perfect consumer to give great authenticity to my perfumes.
Entering the Indian market was an obvious step and came in my mind very fast. It was the perfect accomplishment of my work and determination. I am already exporting in Russia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Armenia and Hungary. So I obviously want my brand to be distributed in India. It will bring me the satisfaction of a fully accomplished history: back to the story of my origins.
So far, the first response has been quite positive. I have collaborated with magazines and also had some brand partnerships which allowed women in Mumbai to discover and try my perfume range. They like the fragrances, and they told me that in comparison with other perfumes, and due to the climate specificity in India, my perfumes last more! I was really happy to discover this point! In fact, Indian actress Sushmita Sen was gifted one of my perfumes, and she was very happy to receive it.
The next step will be to get a distributor to increase the development in India. 
LF: In 2010 you launched luxury scented candles. Do you have any projects and surprise for 2011? 
CM: In March 2011, I will launch a new brand of cosmetics, which is again closely linked to India and France, as it is a continuum of care in collaboration with organic farmers in India. 
LF: Where can we buy your products?
CM: Sahlini has an office in Mumbai, so we can deliver anywhere in India. Customers can purchase via the Internet at: www.sahlini.in (in dollars) or in INR via our ebayshop.

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