A coffee with Sophie van Balen
Hi Sophie, welcome to the Lepelclub journal. We’re so happy to have you here with us! First thing’s first, can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Sure! I am Sophie, a 25 years old woman based in Amsterdam. I grew up in a small village which was very comfortable, but I soon had the urge to travel around and move to a bigger city: so that’s what I did! After finishing my bachelor’s degree at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute as a Fashion Brander, I was intrigued by the business scene. Therefore, I followed a master in Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Even though I learned a lot during my time as a student, I believe that setting up a company is the best study you can have. Since I am a very autodidact person, I always want to learn something new. Running my own brand is how I like to spend my days: every day is different.
You’ve founded your own perfume brand, Mmoire. Can you tell us a little more about the brand, and its core values?
The name ‘mmoire’ comes from the idea that your sense smell is the only sense which is for 90% based on emotions and memories. Furthermore, mmoire comes from the silk technique moiré. When I was making the fragrance and saw how the ingredients and oils formed a pattern, it reminded me of this technique. The first fragrance is inspired by a very small village close by the French Pyrenees. Here, traditional ingredients are combined with molecular tones, I was really looking for the contrast I also saw in this unpolished, but still elegant French town. Even though the first fragrance is based on my own story, mmoire focuses on the fact that every individual can create their own unique experience and lengthen their identity.
How did the inspiration for Mmoire come about initially, and how do you keep inspired each day?
Mmoire arose from an idea I got during my end project of my Bachelor’s.. I was examining the communication of the fragrance industry and felt really intrigued by this environment. How can companies sell something customers cannot smell or experience from a billboard? I started to research everything about perfumery. After that moment, I explored different ingredients and took the leap into this fascinating world. After creating my first fragrance I was surprised how many random people on the streets asked me which perfume I was wearing. I knew I had something special in my hands; this was the start of mmoire.
Here at Lepelclub, we love to relax either with a coffee or a cocktail. When you’re not working, how do you like to unwind?
I think it is important to shift your attention to something else. For me, running gives me a lot of time to reflect. Doing a work-out gives me the ability to be fully focused on the sport and in the end clean all the thoughts of the day. Especially when I am outside, I can really unwind from work. Furthermore, visiting my old hometown gives me the feeling of silence. There are less triggers from outside, compared to the city I live in. Next to this silent method of ‘unwinding’, social activities are on the other side. Starting the weekend with friends and some drinks at the terrace can give me an energy boost. I need this social energy to start the Monday fully focused again.
Can you share the most valuable piece of advice that you've ever been given?
When something seems too much or a lot to handle, break this up into small pieces and focus on the smaller things instead of the bigger picture. My mom thought me this, since I used to be stressed a lot about the bigger things. Even though, if you focus on one thing at the time it will be less overwhelming and in the end you work towards the same goal.
And finally, how are you planning to stir things up in the future?
Lately, I see an interesting shift in the fragrance industry. Even though it has been a very traditional industry on different levels; communication, production and distribution, I experience interesting developments. I feel like it is time for smaller and niche brands to take the stage, by challenging the traditional ways of marketing and focus on sustainability. As a brand I would like to create interesting fragrances and develop scents we have not been smelling before, keeping our future in mind.