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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Press release17 January 2018Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs2 min read

Parfums Godet: capturing the heart and soul of natural essences

Picture of Parfums Godet perfumes in a row on a counter top


Saint-Paul de Vence, PACA, France

Financial Intermediary: SIAGI

SME: Parfums Godet

Sector: Perfumery

Number of employees: 1

Financing purpose: start up the business by purchasing facilities and renovation work

Financing: COSME LGF; EFSI

“I was visiting my grandfather in Paris and came across his vast collection of old perfumes. I was simply blown away… It was amazing to smell these fragrances, still in their bottles since the beginning of last century” says Sonia Souza, great-granddaughter of Julien-Joseph Godet, who founded Maison Godet perfumery in 1901.

Having worked in the field herself, Sonia is no stranger to the perfume business and had a clear idea in her mind. “In the 1970’s the family business changed direction, shifting from perfumes to producing natural food flavouring” she explains, “but after my discovery, I was determined to go back to the roots. I had the perfumes analysed and set out to reproduce the same fragrances from the early 20th century.”

Sonia developed a business plan and called a number of banks, thinking that “since it was a good idea everyone would be willing to finance me – it didn’t work out like that at all.” Sonia eventually secured a loan through SIAGI, backed by EIF under the Investment Plan for Europe. “It was a game changer” Sonia points out. “With this guarantee on the loan, I went from having no options to multiple financing offers. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have been able to get the project off the ground.”

The loan allowed Sonia to start up her business and realise her dream of resurrecting Maison Godet, securing and renovating the facilities for the store, which is located in a historical building in Saint-Paul de Vence, one of the most-visited destinations in France. “The location is no coincidence” explains Sonia, “Many artists used to come here and were close to my great-grandfather. He made perfumes here for the muses of artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.”

Today, Maison Godet aims to retain the authenticity of the original business of the 1920s, from the in-store decoration to the artisanal production process. Raw materials come from nearby Grasse, perfume capital of the world, while the glass vials and all the packaging are hand-made in France. “Behind every bottle there are 4 sets of hands” Sonia says.

With the business doing well, Sonia is already planning to recruit 3 people to help with sales, public relations and logistics. She is also planning to open a new store in London, Paris or New York and is already cultivating her own rose and jasmine fields.

Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing through our access to finance website.

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