I am really happy to interview Maria Grazia Fornasier, founder and teacher of Mouillettes&Co. One reason is in her training courses in perfumery I learned so many things I can't but feel grateful, and the other is that she was a harsh judge of my blog and this has always given me quite "safe": I remember being at the beginning (it was 2007-2008) that sometimes she phoned and told me: "Look, you wrote a mistake" and explained why. And that increased my self confidence, because if no call would arrive, it meant I spread correct infos. At least technically, because then our tastes and points of view are quite different...
So let's start: who is Maria Grazia?
My working career is more than 40 years long, and has always regarded perfume. At the beginning I was in charge of packaging, in '89 I entered the world of essences and then I directed the Italian branches of Mane and then Takasago. I was the project manager in charge of new projects, and I used to develop scents closely with the composers. Then, in 2004 I decided to offer my skills to individuals and companies, and opened Mouillettes&Co (website here), the Italian partner of Cinquieme Sens.
How is leading a composition team from an idea to a scent?
Fantastic! Daily contact with creators really gave me so much over the years and I have always tried to absorb everything I could from them.
But it is also a challenge, because as a project manager you need to get 100% involved in every new project, not just the ones you like. In some cases it's easier, in others not at all. For example I don't fall for Orientals, but I developed many projects of oriental perfumes! Sure, a well done brief is the basis for any successful project: if customers help you understand exactly what they want, everything is much simpler.
Whichis the hardest part?
Learning to get over the "I like / I don't like"; that is learning to select on a more objective basis. At first it was difficult to detach from my personal taste; then I realized that my growing knowledge was helping me get away from subjectivity. I could better assess fragrances, connecting my evaluation to technical elements and the founding values of the brief. My years as a teacher here in Mouillettes&Co. have confirmed that when technical knowledge lacks people rely on personal taste and then, as they consolidate their skills, their evaluation skills grows parallel.
I've always wondered how the other specialists consider the fact that you spread technical knowledge that tool them decades of study?
People who have been my colleagues and competitors know that I never divulge secrets, systems, or other patented technologies but only knowledge and information of a technical nature, thus see my own business as an advantage: they, too require the customers possess a minimum of competence. We offer it in detail here, also trying to standardize the language, so that when the customer asks for a certain thing knows exactly what he's talking about, and can express requests in such a way as to be understood and accommodated.
I have benefited many times of training courses offered by Mouillettes&Co and will continue in the future, but... aren't they a little expensive?
Expensive... compared to what/who? If there was a chance to compare Mouillettes&Co with something similar in Italy, I 'd put myself the question ... but I don't know of any other company specializing in olfactory training. Every year we build as many as 20 courses, plus those tailored to the client's needs; olfactory training is our core business!
If costs seem high it's because you consider only the eight hours in the classroom, but behind it all there is an unseen job that determines the quality of what we do: for example, in order to organize some of the courses we must follow at least 300 launches per year plus the new raw materials, and so the 8 hours we bring to the classroom have cost more than 60 hours of study and design!
Also keep in mind that we welcome no more than 10 people in the classroom, in order to allow all participants to benefit fully from the experience.
And the documentation we provide is at the highest level: a paper containing all the information and details and, upon request, our Olfactorium® of 48 fragrances or raw materials. Do you still think our training costs too much?
Well no, actually...
But the venue, Castelletto Ticino is not of the most appealing, far from the big cities...
Ok, if we were in Milan we'd be closer to airports, train stations etc. (... even if here we're closer to Malpensa airport than the center of Milan!) but in the end this is where we live with our families. I have seen very motivated students from Bari and Catania (that is the most southern parts of Italy). Distance is not a limitation, if one really wants to learn.
The interview continues here!
(photo: thanks to Allure )