She’s Got Guts

On November 10th, I was fortunate to attend the last Women in Beauty Series event of 2010, hosted by the Cosmetic Executive Women. Calice Becker, Executive Perfumer-Vice President of Givaudan, and Trudi Loren, Vice President of Corporate Fragrance Development Worldwide for the Estée Lauder Companies Inc., discussed “The Art of Fragrance,” moderated by Jenny Fine, Editor-in-Chief of WWD Beauty Biz.

Both women were very inspiring, but Calice’s professional story really resonated with me.  Regardless of the strong barrier to entry, Calice was determined to become a perfumer.  Calice inquired with many different fragrance companies, and always got the same response, “No one is going to hire you because you have no connection to the industry.”  Hearing that one too many times, Calice stormed out of her last interview saying, “I’m going to be a perfumer, and I’m going to do it with or without you.”  Another associate chased after her, and to her surprise, she got the job.  Many years later, Calice found out she got the job because the interviewer said “this industry needs someone with guts.”

I learned that the fragrance industry has very much changed over the past decade.  Fragrance development is a lengthy, intense process.  Previously, perfumes were developed and maintained a shelf life of many years, sometimes decades.  But today, the process takes just as long, but many scents only stay on the shelves for a year until the industry and consumers are pushing for something new.  In this ever-changing industry with fast turnover and increasing pressure, Calice and Trudi have truly kept their cool.  We can all learn from them.  Grace, flexibility, determination, and some guts can take us all a long way.

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