In 2011 Marina Barcenilla created The Perfume Garden, a small artisan perfumery located in the West Country, as a way to return to more traditional ways of creating perfume. As Founder and Perfumer, Marina’s vision was to be involved in every aspect of the process, from sourcing rare and precious aromatic essences from around the world to blending fragrances by hand in her own perfume studio. Her aim: to help people “rediscover the soul of perfume”.
In 2016 Marina won the coveted Fragrance Foundation (FiFi) Award for Best New Independent Fragrance with India, which prompted her to take the next step on her journey; The Perfume Garden became Marina Barcenilla Parfums. While the name has changed, the ethos remains the same … “to create the finest fragrances using what nature has to offer”.
More awards have followed in 2017, including a Beauty Shortlist Award for Patchouli Clouds, International Natural Beauty Awards for The Perfume Garden and Patchouli Clouds Bath & Body Oil, and the Eluxe Award for Best Natural Perfume Brand. The Perfume Garden was finalist for the prestigious FiFi Award of Perfume Extraordinaire at the 2017 Awards, and both Black Osmanthus and The Perfume Garden were finalists for Best New Independent Fragrance, which Marina won for the second consecutive year with Black Osmanthus.
All of Marina’s creations are inspired by personal experiences that she loves to share, and are accompanied by short stories that describe the inspiration behind them. She hopes that these stories will help people to discover the soul of her perfumes, and that they speak to them in the same way that they speak to her.
Here, Marina chats to #TeamCoco to tell us more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I first launched my perfume brand under the name ‘The Perfume Garden’ in 2011, but I rebranded to ‘Marina Barcenilla Parfums’ in November 2016, following the win of the Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Independent Fragrance for India. What had begun as a tiny perfumery without a real sense of direction, had become a recognised fragrance house that had won one of the most coveted and prestigious awards in the industry. The brand needed a serious update, a new name and a new image to match the expectations of our discerning customers.
What’s your background?
I have been studying and practicing perfumery for over twenty years, but I never set out to become a perfumer, it just happened. I have a very varied background working in HR and doing charity work helping disadvantaged people, mainly the homeless and victims of domestic abuse.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
It depends on the time of the year! The perfume creation, including sourcing ingredients and dealing with various suppliers is down to me, and I also cover all the aspects of the business, but I have a little bit of help with general administration such as managing enquiries, emails and running of the on-line shop. During very busy times, I have additional from up to three people who help with bottling, labelling and packing of products, shipping orders, etc.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Yes, so many things, but the main thing I would do is looking after my own health much better than I did. As the perfumer, my business cannot function without me, and going slowly is better than trying to achieve too much at the expense of my wellbeing, which for a while brought my business to a halt.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
To keep going despite the fact that, at times, I was broke and had the chance to go back into employment with a healthy pay check at the end of every month. That would have been such an easy thing to do, but I’m really glad that I didn’t.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Two years ago I returned to university to study a full time degree in Planetary Science and Astronomy, and I hope begin a PhD in astrobiology next year.
2018 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
My plan is to make Marina Barcenilla Parfums available in the US and in mainland Europe.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Until May, I would have said winning a Fragrance Foundation Award, a.k.a. FiFi or the Oscars of the fragrance world, in 2016. However, after winning the same award again for a second consecutive year and being a finalist for the Perfume Extraordinaire Award, I’d say that is the highlight so far.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
London, I love London.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
I don’t feel the need to have beauty products with me, I am very low-maintenance, but I couldn’t be without something beautifully fragrant and some shea butter for too long.
Best thing about London to you?
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Neither, statement perfume.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
My Batman t-shirt.
Favourite love song?
Adore by Prince
Best place for a coffee?
A place in my hometown of Calahorra, Spain, called ‘Disco Bar Aster’.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Fantasising about Christmas all year round. I never get tired of it.
If you could spent 24 hours anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New Zealand, for the scenery and the southern sky. I’d love to gaze at the Milky Way in a way that can’t be done from the northern hemisphere.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
To be honest I am not sure. I am more interested in running a sustainable company that doesn’t leave a huge footprint on the planet. The ingredients I use in my perfumes are very precious, and some are extremely rare, so I feel I have a responsibility to ensure I am not exploiting natural resources or destroying natural habitats for the sake of human pleasure. I rather work on expanding people’s appreciation for the natural resources that make my fragrances so special.
Find out more…
On my website, www.mbparfums.com and on my social media profiles on Instagram and Facebook, both @marinabarcenillaparfums