Johanna Monange, Founder & CEO, Maison 21G
Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly an exciting and rewarding endeavor. With unlimited possibilities, entrepreneurship brings in a sense of pride, satisfaction, and the opportunity to make a real impact. However, leaving behind a cushy, well-paying corporate job to being an entrepreneur is by no means a small feat to accomplish and definitely not meant for everyone. It takes immense courage, dedication, determination, and a healthy dose of madness to put an end to what is potentially a financially stable life to pursue your real calling. Johanna Monange, the founder & CEO of Maison 21G is one such business leader who took off her corporate hat to walk the entrepreneurial path and led her company to what it is known as today. Johanna commenced her career in the perfume industry, working alongside famous designers to develop scents for some of the most recognized luxury brands such as La vie est Belle for Lancôme and One Million for Paco Rabanne. She has been perfecting perfume creations over the last 20 years, creating the right scent for each specific brand to fulfill their precise needs.
But while working in the industry, she realized that perfumery is losing creativity and quality. Today, luxury brands belonging to big multinationals pay less attention to the varying tastes and desires of different people. They launch one product to fit all numerous consumer tests, leading to a generalization of scents and a loss of artistry and expression. Also, the expensive prices of today’s perfumes do not come from the creation itself or the essences, but rather the price balloons as it passes through numerous intermediaries, such as marketing, advertising, distribution, and famous egeries – none of which bring real value to perfumes. Johanna believes that what should matter the most is what is inside the bottle! So, to change this scenario, she decided to break free from the corporate world and realize her dream which is to create the first collaborative perfumery house. For Johanna, the smell is more than a sense. “Scents are magic spells that connect us to places, people, lovers, and memories that have deep, emotional, and personal meaning,” asserts Johanna.
Making the World of Personalised Perfumery Accessible To All
Maison 21G was born out of Johanna’s strong passion for perfumery. Her vision for creating Maison 21G Paris was to make creativity, high quality, and education in perfumery accessible to all. Under the indomitable leadership of Johanna, the company aims to empower customers in the creative act and allow them to change perfume as much as they wish according to their moods, personality, and desires of the day. Maison 21G completely breaks conventions and cut all perfumery intermediaries. It puts its customers in direct contact with Haute Couture perfumery oils, allowing them to create their own perfumes and Home Scents. “I want to reignite humankind’s inherent sense of smell and open our minds to endless creativity. This, in essence, is what drives my passion for scent design; it unlocks aspects of ourselves and facets of our personality, whether that’s a heightened sense of seduction, greater day-to-day confidence, or the ability to focus or relax at work or home. I believe that the scent of your soul should be unique as you are and this is what we are building with Maison 21G,” affirms Johanna.
Looking At Crises as Moments of Opportunity
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, it changed the world of business forever. However, it is the positive outlook of Johanna and her ability to see crises as moments of opportunity that enabled Maison to quickly adapt to the changes and further heighten the e-commerce aspect of the business, and increase its experiential retail side in the post-COVID scene. She believes that the pandemic has made consumers more demanding of real and meaningful experiences – a sense of authenticity – when they go out or shop from their homes. They’re on the lookout for higher-quality products with real values, and that’s where Maison 21G steps in. One of the most rewarding aspects of what Maison 21G is doing comes down to its perfume creation workshops where people from different backgrounds get direct access to Haute Couture natural essences and they can blend the way they want, in total security and freedom, guided by Maison’s expertise. “We are creating a real poly-sensorial experience. At these workshops, customers invariably leave with stars in their eyes,” opines Johanna.
Transparency and sustainability have also been key values for Maison from the beginning and this choice has been even reinforced after the pandemic. For the first time in the perfume industry, Johanna decided to break the conventions of this industry and committed to creating a sustainable perfumery world with clean and cruelty-free formulas. Maison uses only sustainable, vegan ingredients and recyclable packaging with no plastic. Each of its bottles is also refillable, driven by a desire to cut waste and make a better world for the next generation with each and every choice and action. “We have a responsibility to our planet and future generations to make this effort and enable these changes,” adds Johanna.
Weaving a Multifaceted Value-driven Culture
Johanna attributes the success of Maison 21G to its multifaceted team with strong and diverse personalities and its culture of inclusivity. The work culture at Maison 21G is driven by the core values of constant learning, courage, customer & team happiness, respect for nature, innovation, excellence, collaboration, and inclusivity. The company always strives to empower its employees to push their boundaries to achieve what they wish to build, both professionally, personally, and for the wider community. It genuinely cares about its people and customers, and consistently acts with its Team’s and Customers’ wellness in mind through all its actions. Being an environmentally responsible organization, Maison cares for nature and strive to make decisions that promote sustainability for the environment, planet, and future generation. The team members at Maison strive to embrace and learn from each culture while keeping the French roots of appreciation for the arts, creativity, beauty, hedonism, and self-expression at the core. With these core values at the forefront, Maison aims to further enhance its capabilities and overtake Chanel No 5 as the most desirable perfume brand in the world by giving its customers the opportunity to create their own masterpiece scent. It aspires to continue disrupting the luxury industry by creating a community of fragrance designers in every major city in the world, with a unique experience, and by building a better sustainable perfumery world.
A Piece of Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
According to the zealous entrepreneur, resilience, sacrifice, and hard work are the key to success when starting an entrepreneurial journey. However, building strong teams and motivating them to attain the organizational goal is also equally important for an entrepreneur. Drawing key learning from her entrepreneurial journey, she advises budding entrepreneurs to work hard, be utterly focused, and not to be afraid of failure, but rather learn from their mistakes. She encourages them to push their boundaries and keep on learning while looking for innovative ways of growing and evolving. Moreover, she urges them to build strong values in their way of working, and stay resilient, optimistic, and deeply humble.
“Finally, the ability to build a better world for our children and grandchildren is a powerful driving force; we cannot continue the way we have been doing things for the next 50 years – there is an emergency and only individuals can begin the process by changing themselves. The corporate world will always follow, provided the individual is empowered to make the changes they want to see,” concludes Johanna.