By Karen Billing
Entrepreneurial husband and wife team Bill and Dana Knees have used their business sense to launch a new business that specializes in scents. Their company, Pastiche, allows people to mix their own perfumes, sold at fun and festive privately-hosted parties and events.
“I believe we’re bringing what most people think is an unaffordable luxury and we’re making it affordable,” Dana said.
While Pastiche is not the first custom fragrance company, Dana believes they are the first social selling company. Launching officially two weeks ago, she has 20 designers on her team hosting parties in San Diego and selected markets around the country.
“It makes me feel good because I can create jobs, I can help people supplement their income or do well enough to run their own business,” Knees said. “And I’m doing something that I really love and enjoy, I’m back in the fragrance world that I love.”
Pastiche is getting a lot of attention during the holiday season. It was featured at Nativity School’s holiday boutique and was a part of the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center’s silver anniversary party held Nov. 16 at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. Pastiche will also be available at the “Sip, Shop and Style” event at 20 Lounge; the boutique nail bar in Cardiff on Nov. 21 from 5-8 p.m.; the Horizon Prep’s holiday boutique on Nov. 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe’s first annual holiday boutique to benefit the Rancho Coastal Humane Society on Dec. 10. from 4-7 p.m.
Dana, a Kentucky native, had been in the fragrance industry for over 25 years in New York, working for Unilever (where she met Bill) and Coty Beauty in sales and marketing. She also had the opportunity to work at a perfume house, as the vice president of global development at Robertet.
“It was my favorite job out of everything in the industry because that’s where I really learned to appreciate the art of perfumery,” said Dana of her work with master perfumers, of which there are only about 500 worldwide. “It was my dream job.”
The Knees eventually moved to California to pursue another dream, to live and raise their children in California and for Bill to become the chief marking officer at Callaway Golf.
Dana knew she wanted to continue working but wanted it to be something entrepreneurial. After Bill left Callaway they started exploring their options together.
“I was ready for something new and different, something really fun. When we discovered the social selling model for Pastiche, we loved it because we’re both so social. The idea of doing parties for a living sounded pretty good,” Bill said.
“Plus Dana and I are really compatible. She’s great at the creative and I’m great at the business side, so we work well together.”
“We respect one another and there are no egos,” Dana said.
It was Bill that came up with the name Pastiche, a French word for pulling individual pieces of art together to create a masterpiece. It was a perfect fit for Dana’s selected logo, a fleur-de-lis with a heart in the center.
The Knees started test marketing their idea a year ago in Northern California, New York and Kentucky to see if it would work and the results were promising.
Pastiche’s fragrance designers become independent consultants, buying a starter kit to go out and host parties. Pastiche pays 40 percent commission, which Dana said is very strong in the industry.
“We wanted people to be able to buy in and really make money off the bat,” Dana said, noting each designer can also recruit three deep that they receive a percentage of.
There is a basic script to follow but the designers can get creative in how they host a party.
Dana likes all of the parties she hosts to begin in the kitchen, after all “perfume is so inspired by flavor,” she says. She likes to whip up her special “Pastiche Pizza”— a pizza crust slathered with pesto and topped with arugula, mushrooms, diced pear, cheese and a surprise ingredient of white chocolate chips, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and agave honey.
Building a fragrance can be a lot like loading a pizza or, as Bill explains it, like making an ice cream sundae. You start with a base and then add different toppings to balance it out.
Dana brought on a master perfumer, Vito Lenoci, whom she said truly understands the art and science behind fragrances, to create the scents for their fragrance bar. People start with one of four bases: Sparkling citrus, Creamy white musk, Grandiflora and the Woody amber and patchouli.
Customers then select the layers of notes they want to add in. Selections were limited to 10 so as not to overwhelm the customers, scents such as balsamic vanilla, Asian pear and freesia, French tuberose, bergamot or cocao flower.
“People love that they get to take it home that night,” Dana said.
Perfumes blends are sold in two sizes, one ounce and two ounces, with price points that are lower than department stores. Customers are able to take a test whiff of their perfume as it is sprayed on a feather. The feather is then packaged with the bottle in a little pouch and as a special touch; each bottle comes with a ring or charm.
Pastiche also sells lotions to match the base scent of the custom-designed fragrance and when people purchase the 2.0 ounce Eau de Parfum they receive a free monogram on their bottle.
For more information on hosting a Pastiche party or if interested in joining the Pastiche team, visit pasticheperfume.com.