I believe in magic! An interview with Steven from Haute Parfumerie Place Vendome

Good evening!

Lately I have been so much into interviews. I feel that I want to know better the people I admire and also spread the word about the things that make them so amazing. This time, Steven Verstraete from Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie Wevelgem is my guest on the blog and I hope you will love to find out more about the most amazing luxury boutique in the world and what makes it unique.

But lets start from the beginning...

About a year and a half ago I wanted to reward myself for ending a chapter in my life and beginning a new and hopefully better one, and what better way to spoil myself than buying perfumes or cosmetics, right? That is how Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie Wevelgem, a chic boutique located in Belgium, came into my life.

I wrote a messege on their facebook page and right away Steven Verstraete answered. I was not quite sure what to choose, and he guided me with patience. He even recommended me a Chanel powder that was a perfect match, based only on my description about my skin tone and my picture! How amazing is that? I have placed my order, payed with my card and received a tracking number. My parced arrived in about three days and then the real magic started.

Never in my live have I received an order so beautifully wrapped, so many extra samples and gifts that really suited me and most of all, a handwritten card! This proved me that customer care at Place Vendome Wevelgem is out of this world! Steven really payed attention to my needs as a client, to the things that I like and I am curious to try and the whole experience was so different than anything I have tried before. It was clear to me that the boutique was guided by different priciples.

Time has passed and I have ordered many times from Place Vendome Wevelgem and Steven was wonderful every time, giving me precious advice in choosing my makeup items and my fragrances and I will forever be grateful for that. I have made a promise to myself, to visit the boutique very soon in the future, but until then, I wanted to find out more about this magic place, so I asked Steven to be my guide. Enjoy!

Adelina Tomescu: How did it all started? How old is Place Vendome Wevelgem and what is the philosophy that guides this amazing store? 
Steven Verstraete: The shop was founded in 1991, by David Depuydt. His vision was to create an envirement that was different than what was at that moment. It had to be a boutique far away from the commercial chains with eye for the exquisite and  quality.
He put the word Luxury back where it belongs. 

Was it intended for the boutique to be different from the beginning, or is it something that came along the way? I am reffering to the fact that you personally advise the clients and not just sale luxury items like most of the shops nowadays do. I feel that communication is very important and valued at Place Vendome. Was it always that way?
From day 1, the idea was to be different. And first of all, the boutique was and is not intended to be a ´niche` boutique . Its main core of the boutique is to deliver quality. Qualitative products, qualitative service. 
Haute Parfumerie Place Vendôme is not a huge shop like some people might think. We are a small team of 3 that knows its clientele through and through. Our clients are not clients, each and everyone is a person with needs and dreams and we are there to fullfil them.
Our boutique is as a bubble, where people can dive into when they want to escape from the real world, escape from the daily hassle. I hear frequently from our our clients that when day have an off day, they come to us because it gives them energy, a boost of well being. 

The interior is made to be inviting, to ease the people. And allthough it looks luxurious, it is not meant to frighten people off. But more to recomfort them. The lighting in our boutique is soft and warm. Not the clinical industrial lighting that you might find in the perfume supermarkts of nowadays.
Communication is indeed very important, hence the reason of not having a webshop. We do have order coming in from all over the world, but only through e-mail or our Facebook page. It is mabye more time consuming, but it is also more rewarding. The interaction, even through a message or a phone call is far nicer then receiving an anonymous order on a computer. 

When did the passion for Guerlain and Chanel started? What do you think is making these brands so special? 
Guerlain was our first big brand started from the beginning of the boutique. We chose this brand for its heritage and exceptional products. Being one of the oldest perfume houses in the world with their rich portofolio of products, was an obvious choice. However, this brand was not at all known in Belgium, especially in the Dutch speaking part where we are situated.
Chanel came later, but it was a natural evolution, since we are specialised in the French Haute Parfumerie.  
The most rewarding in these two brands is that we were the first independent perfume shop to host the exclusive range in both of these brands. And we are stil the only non Chanel boutique or corner in the world to sell Les Exclusifs.

How do you pick a brand that will be availible in the boutique? Is it exclusivity? The exceptional quality or the story behind the brand?
Exclusivity is not the most important feature that makes it interesing  for us.
The most important aspect is originality. There is where lots of niche brands make the same mistake. Making perfumes from 1 main ingredient in overdose, putting it in a simple bottle and selling it for an expensive price. We don’t want to sell prices, but original and qualitative products. By the way, we have products starting from 30 euro going to 40.000 euro. So for every budget there is something available in our boutique.
Lots of new niche brands start by inventing a story, creating a hype around it, launching numerous perfumes at once. These brands don’t live long... we like to work with continuity.

Wich are the most special and exquisite items at Place Vendome?
We sold some most exquisite items, like the red baccarat N°5, 900 ml extrait, some very limited editions in Guerlain. We also have a few of the Collection Privé in Guerlain, where only 1 piece is made. The owner of such a Collection Privé is actually not only buying the perfume but in fact owning the formula, no one else can re-order it.

I want to know the whole team better. Can you please tell me a few words on that?
David Depuydt started the business, being passionate of cosmetics at an early age, ( he sold Avon products when he was barely 8 years old and started doing make-up for wedding a few years later) was destined for it. 

David Depuydt

Toby Barroo
is the youngest member and is now 4 years part of the team. He studied to be a florist and has exquisite knowlegde , making him an expert in ingredients.

His calm and serene way of being make everyone to adore him.

Toby Barroo

And me, Steven Verstraete rolled into the line of work some 20 years ago. I got to know David a few years earlier and caught the virus soon after. After some years of studiyng the matter and learning the phylosophy of the shop I was employed in 1999. 

Steven Verstraete
It was an honour for me to interview Steven and I hope one day soon I will visit Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie. I have learned that sometimes wishes do come true :)


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