#MondayMentors, Ben Gorham of Byredo Parfum & leather goods
Photo: one of the beautiful Byredo bags in their London store.
While I don’t discuss the beauty world on this podcast, Ben Gorham is a man who particularly fascinates me. I went to Stockholm four years ago, and was wandering around the city. By chance, I discovered a tiny Swedish perfume shop – Byredo. Curious, I entered the shop – and was far from disappointed.
Inside, around 20 bottles of perfume in signature black-capped bottles sat atop a beautiful cabinet. Although the bottles all looked the same, however, the perfumes were out-of-this world unique. PLUS they smelled amazing. As I tested every perfume in the shop, the shop assistant told me that they had recently debuted leather goods in their NYC store. When I went to NYC two years later, I naturally had to visit. Unsurprisingly, their leather goods were (and are) just as stunning as their fragrances.
As much as I love the product, however, the story behind them is what interests me the most. After all, most brands go from leather goods to beauty – rather than vice versa. Once I learned about Byredo founder Ben Gorham, this original approach was no longer surprising.
After injuring himself as a pro basketball player, Ben Gorham went back to Stockholm Art School to study fine art. Speaking to Business of Fashion, Ben explained that his injury forced him to ‘completely rethink and reinvent’ – and that he did.
Because of his half Indian heritage, Ben always had a passion for fragrance. Once he met perfumer Pierre Wulff by chance after graduating, he founded Byredo in 2006 – a fragrance brand based around the stories he told to legendary perfumers Olivia Giacobetti and Jerome Epinette.
Ever since, Ben has slowly built a respected global brand with bricks-and-more stores in Sweden, United States, France and London. PLUS Byredo is even stocked by Ecommerce legends Net-a-Porter beauty and numerous others.
Top lessons from Ben’s story:
1. All experiences are opportunities – when one thing is taken away from you, it’s up to you what you fill that time with. In Ben’s case, it was building a killer business.
2. You only live once – if you want to start a fragrance / leather goods company and be a pro-baller (all in one lifetime), it’s not as crazy as you think.
3. If you have a strong story, this will make your product stronger – his fragrances are all based on stories, after all J
4. If you don’t know something, find the best people in that area (and work with them).
That’s it for this week! I’d love to know – are you a Byredo fan? Are there any other brands that marry beauty and fashion effortlessly? Let me know on Instagram, @fashionoriginatorspodcast , and see you on Friday with a NEW episode.
In the meantime, be sure to listen to my latest interview with Nastassja Thompson, fashion photographer extraordinaire on how to build your career and aesthetic: