A Dozen Roses: Interview with creators Sandy Cataldo and Lynn Emmolo

October 1, 2011

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TPM: Sandy and Lynn, can you tell us about your idea for A Dozen Roses? Were you just sitting around having tea or coffee and it came up that you would like to create a trio of rose perfumes?

SC: The idea of A Dozen Roses came up several years ago as Lynn had trademarked the name A Dozen Roses.  We first talked about one fragrance with 12 incredible roses in it.  But for me, I could immediately see how this one simple name could evolve into a perfumery concept that would be 12 fragrances all based on the beauty and emotion of roses.  I envisioned a very high end concept for fragrance addicts. Lynn will tell you that I immediately wanted a boutique that was like a beautiful French perfumery combined with the lushness of a European garden but housed in a modern gallery. By the way, we did form our partnership over a 15-minute cup of coffee.  And that boutique is still a dream for both of us!

LE: The idea of bringing a new concept to market that is truly authentic, our own brand and our own business, is the ultimate challenge and opportunity we couldn’t resist.   The concept of A Dozen Roses is such a strong brand idea, it just had to be done. 

TPM: Were all of the decisions 50-50 as a team?

SC: From day one we have been 50-50 partners.  It's just the way we think.  If you are going to go into something together, then it has to be based on equal respect and equal contribution.  Based on our experiences, there are times when things are more important to Lynn, so I am happy to let her make the decision and there are definitely times when some things are more important to me, so Lynn lets me make the decision.  However, at all times we respect each other’s opinion and check in to make sure that the other person is ok with the point of view before we proceed.  It has never been about 'well I want to be the creative one or I want to be in charge of the business end'…it has always been about 'what do we need to get done and who is best equipped to get it done?'

During the course of our partnership, it’s been a learning curve and because we have done many of the same things professionally, we have learned to tag team – often filling in for each other as necessary.  Do we have natural preferences and strengths…of course…but at times you would be surprised to learn that we have seamlessly switched hats. 

LE:  Business in its best form is a collaboration of people and ideas.  For Sandy and I this was a must have premise to start with.   So as partners we work with mutual respect and a divide and conquer mindset.   We also have great respect and value the input of the many people we have worked with to bring A Dozen Roses to market.  

TPM: Lynn, I understand you designed the bottles, am I correct?  Tell us about your vision for the beautiful bottles…

Actually, the bottles were designed by Susan Hunter of Brash Creative.   Where I came in rather unexpectedly was as the artist.   When I began the research for the development of the A Dozen Roses concept, I was also pursuing a personal passion for painting.    Researching the history of roses, became a bit of an obsession, there are thousands of them…and they are all so beautiful.   So, at that time, I began painting them.     Susan and I were discussing the packaging for A Dozen Roses, I showed her the artwork I was working on and before I knew it they were on the package design.  I have to say I was quite surprised how well it worked!  And, it fit with our desire to create something unique and authentic for the packaging on this line. Sandy loved the idea of it being very unique and collectible as well.   Each is a dyptic of the rose, one of the flower and one an abstract using the same coloration, We worked with Barbara Spakowski and Standwill packaging to get this just right.  The bottle is custom sprayed at Spraytech to match the artwork.  The cap has a embossed signature rose design made of zamac.  We love the weight!   Altogether, there is nothing that I have seen like it on the market.

TPM: And Sandy, you are the perfume collector? Tell us about that...

SC: At times I am embarrassed to admit that I am a collector because being a collector is such an obsession.  I started collecting perfume bottles a gazillion years ago.  At the time, I never really wore perfume but was very much into collecting antiques, art, and vintage clothing.  So collecting perfume bottles was just another way of appreciating what I thought was beautiful crafted items.

For me, perfume bottles are miniatures works of art.  Throughout the years I have collected all sort of bottles from antique bottles (silver filigree flacons), limited edition collections (a significant Lalique collection – last count 14), and even contemporary fragrance bottles that I think are stunning and want to own and admire. 

Today, I have over 200 perfume bottles and about 300 fragrance and powder compacts.  And yes, they are housed in their own display cases.  The very first fragrance bottle I collected was not an antique but was a perfume I wanted to wear and own.  It was Halston in the signature perfume bottle by Elsa Perretti, Next came a beautiful perfume atomizer bottle by Caron.  I loved the Caron boutique on Madison Avenue. My husband once surprised me with one of their hand filled atomizers.  Just gorgeous.  It is quite interesting that Caron fragrances are based on roses – perhaps an early indicator of my rose passion? This was followed more quickly by several Lalique bottles.  Now because my collection is fairly large, I seek out, whether antique or new, bottles that I think are unique or extraordinary. For example, I still love Jean Paul Gautier’s Fragile (snow globe bottle!) or Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie

TPM: Sandy, of course I have to ask you this; what were some of your favorite’s perfumes and scents from your collection (before you created A Dozen Roses, of course) 

SC: To this day, I still love that first Halston bottle.  It is so sensual and yet quite simple.  And my Lalique bottles are still my prized pieces because I love the figural shapes that only Lalique does.  I love art deco and art nouveau and having the Lalique pieces indulges my love for art deco and art nouveau.  From a purely fragrance point of view, I still love Opium.  For me Opium is the best of what fragrance stands for.  The fragrance is heady, the bottle is gorgeous, and the name and imagery immediately transports you to a state of mind that is erotic and taboo. 

TPM: Sandy, if you could have created one famous perfume, what would it have been?

SC: It would have to be Opium.  I was fortunate enough to work at Yves Saint Laurent during my career and it was a great thrill to be responsible for a fragrance brand that I admired and revered.  To my fragrance collection, I was able to add some YSL clothing and a signed sketch by Mr. Saint Laurent.  It does not get better than that. 

TPM: Lynn, were you a perfume fan before this venture?

I love, love perfume, but most of all I love the art of perfumery.  The creativity, the science, the discovery of a unique, fall in love with new scent.   I would say more than a fan, a fanatic perhaps.

TPM: I find it intriguing that you launched three fragrances as a trio at once instead of just once a year.  Is there one of the scents that sells over the other two? What is the front-runner?

SC: Since we just launched, I think time will tell which one will win over more fans.  So far we are noticing that Gold Rush sells more in store but on line – it’s Shakespeare In Love.   

LE: What is wonderful about this concept is that whenever we showed it to women, the never asked do I like this concept; they always asked which one do I like…Women love choices.

TPM: How many perfumers did you work with before they got the composition right? 

Our approach to the development for these fragrances was very different.   First, we selected Givaudan as our partner in development, they were as passionate as I was about the concept.  Then because, we truly believe that the perfumers add great creativity and art to the process, we shared the concept, the emotion that inspired the concept and the artwork to get them excited.  From their initial submissions, I was able to find such great ideas, each contributing a fragrance that inevitably became part of the final selection. Gold Rush is sexy, rich and wild and designed by Caroline Sabas. Iced White, is a cool dry white floral, kind of like gin and tonic designed by  Adriana Medina and Shakespeare in Love is very romantic, like a warm hug and created by Natasha Cole.

TPM: I have an extensive collection of rose fragrances; were you aware of all the rose fragrances on the market and set out to distinguish yourselves from other rose based scents?  How did you determine to accomplish that feat? 

SC: For me, the important part was creating fragrances that evoke the emotions that roses inspire rather than “let’s do some rose fragrances”.  We clearly knew that rose was having resurgence but I think for the both of us, it had to be a unique and different interpretation: modern, sexy, unexpected but rooted in the rose history.  What was clear, this was not going the rose fragrances of yesteryear. 

Each A Dozen Roses fragrances starts with a heart of rose absolute and rose inspired by the concept, we then build a very sophisticated and modern fragrance around that.   These are very modern roses to be sure.

TPM: With the economy as it is, weren’t you a tad nervous about another fragrance launch on the market? 

SC: A tad nervous!  Yes of course.  Charting the course for someone else took knowledge and expertise but charting the course for ourselves took passion, commitment, and risk taking.  But from day one, we felt that the idea of A Dozen Roses was just too good not to take the risk and do it for ourselves rather than for someone else.  We wanted to do something that we did not have to compromise on….not in juice, not in design, not in price, not in how we sell it or how we promote it.  We have been able to be true to our passion and our vision. 

LE:  The economy, the economy… scary!  You have to believe what you are doing has commercial relevance.  You have to design something a woman really wants to have, of great quality and style something that she aspires to and gives her joy.  A fragrance that can be her personal signature scent.  We believe A Dozen Roses fills a very unique space in a very crowded  market. 

TPM: Let’s talk about the relationship with Neiman Marcus; congratulations are in order to be an exclusive your very first fragrance!  How did this come about?

SC: Having worked in the prestige beauty business for many years (particularly my days at the Estee Lauder Companies), I knew all the major retailers and was fortunate enough to be able to leverage my experience in getting the appointment with Neiman Marcus.  As soon as we showed Hazel Wyatt (VP-GMM Cosmetics) the concept, she immediately loved it and wanted to have it as an exclusive.  We showed the concept to only a few retailers that we felt would appreciate the concept and they all expressed immediate interest so we felt that we had something that was worth taking a risk on. 

Neiman Marcus has been an enthusiastic and supportive partner from the start. They understood what we were trying to do and really liked the concept.   We really appreciate their desire to work together on this launch.   We look forward to building a very successful business with them.   And, to Sandy’s point earlier of using each others strengths to optimize the business, Sandy’s prestige experience has been invaluable to our ability to successfully launch.

TPM: Both of you have been beauty executives in the past; are you still currently in the beauty field?

SC: Beauty is in our blood.  Yes we both continue to work in the beauty field in several capacities.  A Dozen Roses, however, is the brand that we have developed for ourselves through our interests in our company, 360 Degrees, Inc. 

LE:  The beauty industry is what we know, our passion and we’re pretty good at it.  Why do anything else?

TPM: Tell us something that we don’t know about A Dozen Roses…

SC: That there are more than a dozen roses in our future!  

LE:  Well you can find that out on our facebook page…a dozen roses or adozenrosesfragrances.com.


Look for our fragrance profiles coming soon!

A Dozen Roses Website

A Dozen Roses, founded by Sandy Cataldo, a perfume collector, and Lynn Emmolo, launched this past summer at Neiman Marcus.  We are proud to present to our readers, an in-depth interview with the creators of A Dozen Roses.

Press release:

A DOZEN ROSES, a fragrance collection inspired by the emotions that only a rose evokes, launches exclusively at Neiman Marcus.

Roses have inspired poets, artists, designers, and now, they have inspired the fragrances of A DOZEN ROSES. A DOZEN ROSES, modern, eclectic and sexy, is a collection of fragrances created from a passion for art, pure perfumery and unique fragrance bottle design. The perfumery; luxurious, delightful and inspiring, utilizes rose essence as never imagined.  Perfumers were given free reign to create the fragrances in the collection based on original artwork and the emotion of roses that inspired them. The results are unique artisanal scents unlike any other: fragrances that are artwork unto themselves. Each uniquely original fragrance is imbued with 100% natural rose absolute essence wrapped in a complex, sophisticated, and modern creation.  The passion for roses also ignited the obsession to paint. Original artwork, showcased on the front and back of each fragrance bottle, pays homage to the beauty of the rose. Works of art unto themselves, the defining moment for the bottle designs evoke a complexity of emotions and passions similar to the scents within.  A DOZEN ROSES launches with three unique fragrances to begin creating your bouquet:

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE: Warm. Wonderful. Memorable.

GOLD RUSH: Sexy. Rich. Wild.

ICED WHITE: Icy. Edgy. Effervescent.

Available exclusively at Neiman Marcus

Co-Founder, creator and artist of A Dozen Roses, Sandy Cataldo, signing bottles
Neiman Marcus display

Neiman Marcus display

Co-Founder, creator and artist of A Dozen Roses - Lynn Emmolo
Neiman Marcus display

By Raphaella Barkley