A passion for beauty and art led Laurice Rahme, the founder and president behind the infamous scents at Bond No. 9 that pay homage to New York City, to switch fields to something a bit more “sweeter.”
Born and educated in Paris, France, Rahme took an interest in the art and rich culture that surrounded her. She studied art history, worked for a well-known antiques dealer, and at one point opened up her own shop. But a desire to travel and experience the world led her to seek a new path, one that would allow her to combine the things she loved with a new direction.
“After a few years my passion for art and beauty took me into the heart of the beauty industry, says Rahme. “It’s this background of art and authentic heritage that informs what we do at Bond No. 9 to this day.”
Setting the Stage
In the 1970s, the future businesswoman and entrepreneur began her foray into the world of beauty, first working at Lancome as its international training director and then with L’Oreal when she assumed the role of director of the Lancome Institut de Beaute. Rahme’s entrance into the world of perfumes came from the opportunities to “work with some of the greatest names in the fragrance universe.”
One of those greats was the famous perfume creator Annick Goutal, whom ignited her passion for fragrance. It is because of Goutal that Rahme moved to the United States almost 30 years ago to introduce the famed perfumer’s brand and creations to the US market. Transforming a small-scale business into an international success, Rahme was inadvertently laying the foundation for her future down the same triumphant path.
Since arriving in the Big Apple, Rahme has called New York City her home. “New York has incredible energy, like no other city,” she says. “It’s always fresh and new, and all of us who live here feel that constant renewing, fast-paced forward-motion that sparks creativity. It’s those feelings that inform everything we do.”
On September 11th, 2001, New Yorkers, along with the rest of the country, were tested in a way no one could have imagined. In the aftermath, communities came together and the unbreakable strength of a city was enforced. Fueled by a deep love for her home city, Rahme wanted to celebrate NYC’s courage and creativity by being courageous and creative.
Out of this desire to breathe new life back into the wounded city came Rahme’s company, Bond No. 9. She launched with a collection of women’s, men’s, and unisex eaux de parfum in 2003. “It was a big risk, of course, but we had no fear,” Rahme recalls. “We followed our intuition and our desire to be different.”
She and her team began creating fragrances to celebrate NYC’s neighborhoods and showcase the city’s unbreakable spirit. Their mission was to restore artistry to perfumery and give a scent to each neighborhood.
Redefining an Industry
To Rahme’s big surprise and excitement, her business plan launched a whole new category in the fragrance industry: The Scent of a Place. “In the end I am just an artistic perfume creator at heart who believes that what we do brings a bit of beauty, hope, and delight back into the world.”
Her main shop, located at 9 Bond Street in Manhattan’s NoHo (North of Houston) district, is in one of the most desirable and in-demand neighborhoods, hence the name of this now-famous company. In choosing the locations for her creations, Rahme keeps up-to-date on the real estate section of The New York Times as it describes the new and happening local neighborhoods. The spirit of a specific area is the inspiration the team aspires to capture and bring to life.
Each bottle is a beautiful work of art, a collector’s piece, setting Bond No. 9 apart from other perfume companies. “Our packaging and our fragrances celebrate the uniqueness that is found in each neighborhood,” says Rahme. The company also offers custom blending to customers, mixed by blenders referred to as “Bond Perfumists.”
When Bond No. 9 first launched, Rahme envisioned her scents being strictly for New Yorkers; never in her wildest dreams did she think that 12 years later, the scents she created in an effort to heal her city would be available in 35 global markets.
To date there are a total of 72 scents, with collections covering NYC neighborhoods uptown, midtown, and downtown; I Love NY (baring the famous I Love NY logo celebrating the entire state of New York); New York Beaches; and a collection specifically designed for Harrods Department Stores. Rahme’s latest fragrance, Park Avenue South, launched this past March, and features a fresh, flirtatious scent of one of the city’s newest hotspots.
Paying It Forward
In addition to being the woman behind these scents, Rahme thinks it’s just as important as a businesswoman to interact on a personal level. She says she learns so much when meeting her fans.
Rahme is also involved with the “I Love New York” organization, donating a percentage of sales from Bond No. 9‘s I Love New York collection to the state of NY for funding of statewide programs, including recycling and park restoration.
Like the city it represents, Bond No. 9 never rests: The line extends past perfumes to include candles, body creams, and pocket sprays. Always working on something new, Rahme is currently developing their next new scent. And while she loves all of the perfumes in her collection, she says, “the one I’m working on right now is my favorite.”
What sets Rahme and her brand apart is uniqueness and energy. “Today’s consumers are looking for extraordinary products and are more interested in creative scents and packaging.” While the company remains true to its heritage and roots, Rahme’s goal is to keep collectors and customers intrigued, so the possibilities for the future remain endless.
“Very early in my career, Robert Salmon at L’Oreal told me two things that have been most important,” says Rahme. “First, always focus on creativity – all the rest will follow. Second, not to be afraid to be different. He always reminded me that it is important to be myself, not to follow, and not to look at what others are doing, but to find the path that is right for me.”
Bond No. 9’s bestselling fragrance: The Scent of Peace
“The scent has an overtly civic message, an homage to a quest for peace.” ~Rahme
Top 5 Finalists for 2007 Fragrance of the Year
FiFi Award for Women’s Nouveau Niche Category
Peace Award by the United Nations Women for Peace Association