general thoughts

gated community

I used the term “gated community” in a facebook comment this morning, where I made a serious comment in an otherwise happy post. The post was about a launch event; my brand, the complete line, will soon be available in Canada, Montreal, Quebec, at Etiket. This is wonderful!

Back to the gated community: You know, it is like every couple of hours that I get a mail or facebook comment from residents of an EU country, asking me when this and that product comes to their country. Like Germany. Or Italy. Or the UK. And I always have to say: This needs time.

So I said in this facebook comment “The border to the EU is , from a product export point of view, higher and further away than the US border. the EU is a closed, gated community.” You, residents of the EU: Do not feel offended, please. Things are the way they are and I do not worry about them anymore. And you have your rules which is perfectly ok.

But, when visiting the US recently and when talking to fellow perfumers there, with exciting products, produced and sold in the US, I realized this again: By putting up this high regulative barriers and by hiding behind them, in sort of a gated community, the EU makes it virtually impossible for the small brands, thriving at the west and east coast of the US to enter this market.

And believe me: If taken seriously, and if you want to do it the legal way…. to get cosmetic products, such as perfume, imported legally into the EU from a non EU country takes thousands of Euro.  You need a lot of paperwork done, and you need people (consultant, distributors) who act as “responsible person” in the EU. And either you get the numbers (for the distribution model) to go through a distributor taking care of it all, or you pay annually, like 1000 -3000$ to the “responsible person” which usually is a consultant. Bottomline: The smaller you are as brand, the higher the barrier.

This is why some of the most exciting new brands and fragrances that are out there, are not to be found in Europe.

Of course, some of the hurdles affect small, micro, going to be brands inside the EU, too.

Anyhow. What does this mean for Europe? It means a couple of things, in my opinion: It makes it more difficult for new indie ventures in the EU. You have higher barriers to start from scratch, yourself, without going through some companies in Grasse. Thus, maybe this is why most of the new brands coming from the EU these days are owned and started by somebody asking somebody else in Grasse to create something for them inspired by something.  It also means: It protects its people from dangerous products, maybe. It protects the EU markets from foreign imports by raising the entry barriers.( a side note: I am super curious how they will solve this cosmetics products issue in the free trade treaty between the US and the EU). It keeps a lot of administrative people busy. And, like in a greenhouse, it pampers the plants/brands sitting inside the greenhouse. The problem with plants growing in greenhouses: Put them out into the real world and they might fail to stand the sun and the rain.

Today’s picture:  Viola, growing and seen in a wild Swiss forests.