Niche fragrance brand Liis is launching its fifth scent.
Named Lucienne, the fragrance retails for $165 for 50 ml., and includes top notes of pomelo and lemon zest; middle notes of magnolia, dragonfruit and waterlily, and amber and marine accord base notes.
“We felt Jérôme was the best perfumer to translate our vision; we want our scents to be very minimalist — to the point where you can pick out each note in them — and Jérôme is just a maestro at those kinds of scents,” said Alissa Sullivan, who cofounded Liis with Vintner’s Daughter alum Leslie Hendin, after years of working in product development at Penhaligon’s and L’Artisan Parfumeur.
While Hendin and Sullivan officially launched Liis in 2020, the pair had been working alongside Epinette since 2018 to develop the line. When pandemic-induced supply chain issues threw a wrench in the brand’s launch plans, the pair embraced the added time to find their bearings, deciding to gradually release the scents they developed before COVID-19 hit.
“It was nice in a way to have that extra time to be thoughtful and intentional about everything; now, we’re just launching the scents we developed in 2018,” said Hendin.
“We’re kind of ahead of the game for the next two years — we have all our launches planned out,” added Sullivan.
The pair anticipate Lucienne, which means ‘light’ in French, could do between $250,000 and $300,000 in first-year retail sales. The fragrance will roll out to retailers including Violet Gray, Onda Beauty, Revolve, a slew of small businesses across North America and, this spring, Neiman Marcus.
“Our distribution is mainly how we’re reaching new audiences,” said Hendin. “We’re focused on finding retailers that offer high-touch experiences; we want that discovery, and for a shop to be small or intimate enough that the customer has a relationship with the sales associate,” Hendin said.
Currently only available in North America but eyeing an expansion into Europe later this year, the brand is determined to maintain this intimacy-focused approach as it grows, even carrying the ethos into its influencer marketing and social media presence.
“We don’t focus on connecting with the largest content creators or those who have what is traditionally considered the largest audience, but rather smaller creators who are more niche, and thus allow us to connect with them on a more authentic level,” said Hendin.
Because they don’t contain preservatives, the brand’s fragrances undergo rigorous heat testing to ensure longevity, lasting an average of two to three years with proper care, according to the company. While perfumes comprise the majority of Liis’ business, the brand forayed into candles last October, and will introduce three new candle scents this summer.
“There’s no right or wrong way to use our fragrances,” said Hendin. “They’re like watercolors; you can layer them, wear any time, any season — whatever feels right for you.”