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Brand Interview: CRA-YON

A lot of you will have seen the CRA-YON name. After all, it's not a name that you’d expect to see branding a perfume bottle. However, CRA-YON is one of the most exciting new perfume houses in Europe and beyond. Launched in 2020 with the same core team of three it has now, they’ve gone from strength to strength. The brand now has six headline perfumes, with many more coming. We sat down with co-founder Niclas Laydeen to discover what cataclysm its creation, how the brand fits into a traditional industry, and what’s up with that name?

“I’m a designer,” Niclas explains his background before entering the world of perfume. The Swede from Gothenburg had a successful career in design and had a soft spot for visual packaging that could convince people to buy. It may have been inevitable that Niclas ended up in the perfume industry. “I met Christine Lydeen (Niclas’ wife and colleague), who has a background in fashion and lived in Paris for many years. When we met, she was fascinated by scents…early on, we started to explore this world between the concept of scent and how to convey that through visuals. That was ten years ago.”

After working and consulting with other brands, the pair eventually decided to take the perfume industry on themselves. By this stage, they had established trusting and enthusiastic networks worldwide. “We felt very free in terms of how you traditionally promote perfumes. And we felt we entered the market with a new kind of perspective. We weren’t so loyal to traditions; we could play around with what a scent could be.”

Many of us fantasize about starting something of our own, but only a small number actually do it. So I asked Niclas: what led him to leave the security and stability of his past to start CRA-YON?. “When I think about how we work and what is driving us, I think it is the challenge. We just want to feel like we are doing something interesting. That’s the challenge, to try new ways to play around with concepts and ideas.”

This desire to ‘play’ with well-established conventions may appear contrarian. For CRA-YON though, it’s the natural order of things. “It's a natural approach for us. We want to push the needle a little bit, for ourselves, but also for an industry like the perfume one.”

With this natural disposition to disrupt and play with conventions, it could have been challenging to convince industry gatekeepers to believe in CRA-YON. Due to Covid, they held off launching until the right time presented itself. “We were kind of sitting and waiting for the right time to launch CRA-YON, and when we did, we felt pretty fast that people were interested. The market was ready to seize something new, more colourful, more playful and more fun.” The team had another confidence boost after their initial meetings with retailers; “...after the first, five to ten meetings was when we first felt that this was going to work. They were all optimistic, and it was an easy sell.”

As they say, the rest is history. Although I couldn’t leave our conversation there without asking about the name itself. “Coming up with the name for a brand is always an interesting process. It’s like naming your child or something.” Niclas explained. For him and his team, the process came first. Then names were tried out to see which fit best. “CRAYON without the hyphen was something that we played around within the beginning. We felt the metaphor between painting your world with scent, or colouring your plate, could be fun and playful.” However, Niclas’ inner designer had trouble with simplicity. After some time, the hyphen was added: “to make the image of the word more eye-catching and more graphically interesting.”

Like all of the brands in our collection, CRA-YON creates some of the best perfumes we’ve tried. But the playfulness of their creative process gives them a unique position. Have you given them a chance yet? No? Add a CRA-YON fragrance to your calendar now, and let us know your thoughts!

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