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Geir Ness, creator and designer of LAILA, Norway's first international Norwegian fragrance. During his appearance at Nordstrom he offered up his new Spring handbag design which is reversible, pink and gray. Available when you purchase Laila and a Skin of Norway moisturizer.
It’s the day before Mother’s Day in the year 2000, and Norwegian Geir Ness was about to make his grand entrance at the Nordstrom Beverly Hills store to launch his first fragrance
Laila. Just a few weeks prior, he was haggling at a garage sale for a five-dollar suit that he was wearing and a small piece of red carpet to stand on. A colleague, a man named John, was playing the role of paparazzi, but could not even afford film for the camera he had in his hand. On cue, two young female friends were ready to scream hysterically as Ness made his appearance on the floor.
That was then...
Laila is one of the top fragrances sold at Nordstrom, Walt Disney World Theme Park and Disney Cruises. Recently, Ness introduced his latest Laila bottle and handbag design at new Nordstrom in Vancouver where he shared with me one of the most compelling rags to riches stories in the perfume industry.
Back in the mid 90’s, Geir Ness came to America with the hopes of becoming a Hollywood star. While attending acting school in Los Angeles, he was offered a job in a department store spraying customers at the fragrance counter. Rather than waiting for women to approach him, he persued them all over the store. After only 40 minutes the store manager decided that he was not the right fit for the job, and asked him to leave.
Lesson learned, he then got another position at a different store and took a less aggressive approach with selling. While on the floor, many women would ask him where he was from. He told them Norway, and they'd ask him if Norway had a fragrance.
At that time, there wasn’t a single Norwegian fragrance, so Ness asked a French Purfumier how to go about creating his own fragrance. The French man replied, that he had to "find the ingredients for the scent,” so he began scouring Norwegian fields for wild flowers and herbs. After four years of blending various samples, he then test marketed the scent himself by asking strangers on the street what they thought.
During these trials, he never told anyone that it was his fragrance, as he wanted unbiased opinions. His final scent has over 30 herbs and lavender and was named after his Mother, Laila.
Geir Ness today offers two fragrances, Laila (left) and Geir for Men (right), plus a natural aging skin care line Skin of Norway.
In 2000, he produced his first order of 1,000 bottles of
Laila by borrowing from friends and maxing out his credit card. One of the Nordstrom buyers loved his fragrance, but with no money for advertising she told him that launching a fragrance is harder than being in show business. Nevertheless, she offered to take 100 bottles for a three-month trial the day before Mother’s Day.
Living the LA lifestyle, Geir Ness decided to create his own buzz with a five-dollar suit and a red piece of carpeting from a garage sale, a friend with a camera who could not afford film, and two attractive screaming female fans.
All of his preparation paid off as Nordstrom Beverly Hill shoppers immediately started to line up to meet the tall blond Norwegian fragrance designer Geir Ness. Within the first hour,
Laila was sold out and one week later Nordstrom had agreed to carry his fragrance nation wide.
Geir Ness today offers two fragrances,
Geir for Men, plus a natural aging skin care line
Skin of Norway. During his appearance at Nordstrom Vancouver, he offered up his new Spring handbag design which is reversible, pink and gray. Available when you purchase
Laila and a
Skin of Norway moisturizer.
Go big, is what Geir Ness had decided that eventful day 15 years ago and he's never look backed since. The only disappointment was that he didn’t have any photos from his first day at Nordstrom Beverly Hills to share with me.
Read all articles by Edward Quan
About the Author: Experienced luxury fashion buyer
has worked with the most prestigious designer brands across Europe and
America and shares his inspiration for effortless style on his website,
He has a passionate, yet intelligent way of describing his subject and
has a keen eye for detail. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.
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