Nick Steward is the founder and creative director of Gallivant Perfumes, an independent brand out of London. We have had the pleasure meeting Nick a few times at our boutique, allowing us to get to know him and his brand well. He has an impressive background in the perfume industry, recently as the creative director of L'Artisan Parfumeur for eight years. Nick graciously took the time to answer some of our questions for our site and on our Instagram.
What does it mean to operate an independent fragrance brand in this market?
Haha, well, no one is going to say it’s easy being independent. I think us indies have built-in reserves of resilience, and marry that with genuine love and passion for what we do - that carries us forward.
And I’m optimistic in one sense: more and more people want to support the 'small guys', and their local shops - it feels more personal and real.
Gallivant stands out on our shelves with small bottles, minimalist presentation, and truly gender neutral fragrances. What brought you to make something so perfectly direct?
Less is more.
Now more than ever, that seems true to me - as we appreciate the small everyday things around us. I love that people buy our perfumes and use them - carry them about in their daily life; perfume comes alive on skin.
Here’s to enjoying the simple pleasures!
Independence comes with a lot of challenges. What do you wish people knew about building Gallivant Perfumes?
"Slow perfume." I’m enjoying taking my time!
I don’t believe in “overnight success stories” - don’t believe the hype.
For me it’s about taking the time to make the best quality perfumes.
How do you capture the essence of your favorite cities through fragrance?
Travel and perfumes are about memories - that’s the common thread. So I’m trying to bring my memories of exploring these places back into the present, via the materials of perfumery.
You’ve probably all experienced that - you smell something, and you’re instantly taken back to somewhere you’ve been.
Which of your perfumes garner more attention when you wear them?
Los Angeles, Istanbul, Tokyo, London - people always notice those and comment. Amsterdam is the one which always intrigues people - and I wish that one was better known. It’s really unique, and sophisticated - takes a bit of time to get used to.
Your perfumes are lively, but not noisy. Even Brooklyn is more subtle compared to the Gallivant line, but I could never think of 2.5 million people that way. How do you pick the notes to represent each city?
I try to avoid the clichés - and focus on personal memories. So for my Brooklyn-inspired perfume, it was very much about a particular May day in Park Slope with friends. A picnic, cocktails, flowers, fresh air. Unexpected perhaps - not ‘dirty’ ‘urban’ smells.
I tend to start any new development with a mood-board. Moments, music, places, people - the mood of a happy memory I want to re-create.
You're quite the world traveler, but we are currently going through a pandemic. How have perfumes allowed you to escape?
Sure, I am really missing travelling - seeing the world - but I’m so happy to put my perfumes on every day and feel a sense of escape, of armchair travel. I think perfume can be a really good distraction - and take you away from your worries for a moment. And I am researching and planning a big trip, to a continent I don’t know so well. So that’s an enjoyable part of the process - and hopefully a new perfume will come out of that!
You've worked closely with Bertrand Duchaufour, and currently with great perfumers like Karine Chevallier, Giorgia Navarra, and Nicolas Bonneville. What is it like to work with incredible minds and noses? Is there a difference between generations of perfumers?
You know people say ‘don’t work with your friends’ - well, I’m the opposite.
I’m actually quite introverted, so I very much like to work with people I know well. There’s automatically a shared language, a shared sense of humour (that’s important!) - but there is still the right level of creative tension.
I don’t know if the differences are generational (although of course perfumers have had access to different materials at different points in time) - perhaps more about whether they chose to work on the big commercial projects or the indie/artisan perfumes.