FOUNDERS INTERVIEW WITH MONICA GEUZE: A YEAR AND A HALF LATER
One year after the first Founders Interview with Monica Geuze, the co-founder of SOPHIA MAE, we're reconnecting with her for another conversation. What has changed in the past year and a half? What is she most proud of? How does she handle setbacks that are sometimes inevitable? And what does the future hold for SOPHIA MAE?
How do you reflect on the past year and a half at SOPHIA MAE?
It's actually quite difficult to put into words. I can't quite process chronologically, from the moment of launch until now, what happened when. It all went by in one continuous flow, and yet so much has changed in the past year and a half. Our team has significantly grown, we've moved to a larger office, we've launched many new products and there are still numerous launches in the pipeline. It's all so exciting. When I get questions like these, I'm reminded of how important it is to pause and think about everything we have achieved. But I also know that I tend to be very 'go with the flow,' and I appreciate looking back on our achievements later. At SOPHIA MAE, we create a lot of visual content, and I love putting it all together later to see how far we've come.
What was the most memorable experience in this past year and a half?
The launch of SOPHIA MAE was incredibly special. It was just the three of us back then – Stanley, Manon, and myself. We were so nervous because we had put so much preparation into it. When we finally launched SOPHIA MAE, a weight was lifted off our shoulders. There we were, in a tiny office surrounded by a mess; it's one of my favorite memories because that was truly the beginning of SOPHIA MAE. The launch of the Aura eau de parfum was also very special. It's truly one of my favorite moments. While I stand behind all the products we develop, with Aura eau de parfum, everything just clicked. After the launch, we received so much positive feedback from people, and it completely overwhelmed me. That feeling is something I absolutely cherish. The fact that Aura was our first eau de parfum made the moment even more special. Of course, we plan to launch more perfumes, but Aura eau de parfum will always be our baby.
What are your greatest moments of happiness when it comes to SOPHIA MAE?
It's the reactions from people who purchase our products. What I find most rewarding is when people say, "My favorite product is almost finished, I'm going to order a new one." We often see this with the Majestic Mist and Aura eau de parfum. Knowing that people own a product that you've developed is already a dream come true, but the fact that they use it so frequently that it becomes an essential part of their routine is still incredibly surreal.
What are you most proud of?
I'm incredibly proud of the SOPHIA MAE team. The team really elevates SOPHIA MAE to a different level. We have different people at the helm for each category, and I'm certain that everyone in their respective positions knows much more about their department than I do. Even though I have a vision and a dream, I know that everyone is in the right place, and that makes me very proud. I think frequently to myself: there are people working on things that I have no knowledge of, but they're the ones ensuring the company can grow. I think that’s amazing.
Of course, I'm proud of all the products, but I'm particularly proud of the Majestic Mist; it's just an amazing product, and I use it multiple times a week myself. The Eternal Balm remains a favorite as well. It's the type of product I've always liked using, but I could never find one with a scent I loved. I use Aura eau de parfum every day, even when I'm wearing a different perfume, I always spray some Aura on top. There's even a bottle in my car. So, these three products are truly the ones I'm most proud of.
Which products are part of your daily routine?
Every morning, evening, and throughout the day, I use the Eternal Balm. I use the Majestic Mist on the second and third day after washing my hair, but sometimes right after washing as well, to add volume and hold. In the summer, I use the Goddess Glow with the new Kabuki Brush to avoid getting the product on my hands. In bed at night, I like to use the Gratitude Journal; I lie under my Eos laundry perfume-scented blankets and sleep on our Two-Sided Pillowcase.
What is your favorite product?
I get asked this question a lot, especially by people who are considering their first purchase. But to be honest, it's a bit like asking a mother to choose between her children. If I had to choose one... I just can't. I find the scented candles amazing, the roomsprays are delightful and concentrated, Eos laundry perfume smells great, and the list goes on: Majestic Mist, Aura eau de parfum, Golden Mirage eau de parfum, Eternal Balm – I could name them all.
Why did you release a laundry perfume?
Laundry perfume is truly a niche product and not something you feel like you need in your life until you've used it once. I've been a fan of laundry perfumes from other brands for years, but often found the scent too strong. I really wanted to develop a laundry perfume that was a bit more gentle to the senses. Scent experience does so much for me, and I believe it does for others too. When I've washed my sheets with Eos laundry perfume, lying in bed feels different – almost like a fresh start. It's that feeling of the first night in a clean bed, which is already magical, but this adds an extra dimension. I wash everything with Eos laundry perfume; I love the scent.
How would you describe the scent of Eos laundry perfume?
It gives me a very clean feeling. Very fresh, clean, and it just feels like I have my life together.
What is the process from concept to creation of a product?
It usually starts with an idea or inspiration from another product that needs to be translated into SOPHIA MAE's style. Then we work on the design; what are we going to do with the packaging? What should its appearance be? What name should it have? Then we receive samples from the manufacturer. We work with manufacturers from the Netherlands and abroad, and they often have their own procedures. For cosmetic products, for example, you have to go through different testing phases to ensure something is safe. These processes can be quite time-consuming. Sometimes something can be ready within three months, but it can also take two years. That can be challenging. After two years, do you still find a product as relevant as when the idea originated? With something like a Gratitude Journal, it's easy to adapt, but with other products, you might have to start from scratch again.
Are there plans to release makeup?
Absolutely. I can't wait.
How do you determine the scent of a product?
It often starts with a feeling. We're all big fans of scents and scent experiences. Within the team, there's a small group of people who say, "I was somewhere yesterday, and the scent there gave me a certain feeling. We should translate that into a SOPHIA MAE product." This can take the form of a scented candle, a body lotion, a shower gel, or a perfume. We work with a fragrance house in France, where you can walk in and test different scents. What we're aiming for is to get a feeling from a scent. This can be a challenge because capturing a feeling in a bottle isn't that easy.
Nonetheless, we discuss this together and they develop different scents and compositions. Based on those samples, we decide if we get the right feeling from them. We put a lot of energy into developing our Hestia scented candle. It's truly a scent that makes you think, "Yes, this is a feeling." It's the feeling of winter, coziness and memories. It might sound a bit abstract if you're not familiar with scent development, but this is genuinely how Hestia feels to me. I feel the same way about the roomsprays. For instance, Aphrodite strongly reminds me of luxury hotels, high-end stores and weekend getaways – it gives me the feeling of pure luxury. On the other hand, Artemis gives me a serene and clean feeling.
Can we expect new products soon?
Yes! We have more than 100 products on our development list, so we're really working hard on developing new products right now. We're planning substantial expansion of our line and will release many products that I'm personally really excited about. We have some beautiful hair rollers and hair clips coming, as well as cosmetics, new scented candles, and shower products. There are a lot of products coming up, I truly can’t wait for them to launch. There's also something coming that can't be missing from the SOPHIA MAE experience: comfortable and beautiful clothing.
Which product that's launching this year are you most looking forward to?
I'm really looking forward to the launch of our new eau de parfum: Golden Mirage. It's such a beautiful scent. I'm very curious about how the launch of this perfume will go, especially since the launch of the Aura eau de parfum gave me such a powerful feeling. I'm thrilled that we're expanding our perfume collection, and this is just the beginning. Additionally, I can't wait to release more body and cosmetic products. These are actually the longest processes, but they're the ones I'm most eager for. It truly feels like hard work is being rewarded.
How would you describe the scent of Golden Mirage?
Golden Mirage fits perfectly with all the other SOPHIA MAE scents but is also completely different. If you enjoy SOPHIA MAE's products, you'll likely appreciate Golden Mirage eau de parfum as well. It contains orange blossom, giving it a fresh, summery, and soft undertone. It feels like a feminine scent, but Golden Mirage eau de parfum is definitely unisex. It reminds me of a sunset on the beach or on a boat. It evokes a feeling of luxuriousness in a loving way.
How do you handle things when they don't go well?
I think I can handle that quite well. I'm not someone who easily gets discouraged. Things can certainly go wrong when you're in a process that depends on other parties. You might face disappointment or bumps in the road, but it really helps to think that nobody intends to deviate from the plan. We have to keep moving forward, and sometimes we have to do that at a different time than we had planned. Somehow, things always work out. If something goes wrong, those things always seem to turn out alright in the end. In hindsight, we might think: perhaps it's better that it happened this way, even though we were frustrated in the moment. Sometimes, you just have to make the best of the situation.
How do you handle feedback?
At the time of launch, the process isn't over; that's when customer feedback starts, and it's often the time that we come together to discuss what we can improve. Even if we're happy with the product we've developed, we still look for ways to make it even better. How can we align it more with the look and feel of SOPHIA MAE? You're never done with development; there's always room for adjustment and improvement. The packaging can always be more appealing or sustainable, materials can always be different, and even the content of a product can change if it's found to work better. I really enjoy that we're not confined in that sense.
We take our customers' feedback very seriously, and we appreciate receiving it because it's something we can work with. Sometimes we can become a bit tunnel-visioned about our products, so that feedback is incredibly valuable to us.
Will you ever be done with SOPHIA MAE?
Hopefully not! When I started, my vision was different: I approached it quite pragmatically. I wanted it to grow and improve as quickly as possible. Now, I feel differently about it. I just want to have a lot of fun, create beautiful things, and enjoy the process. I wouldn't find it enjoyable if it were to end quickly. This is where I want to invest my time and energy – I find it truly amazing.
What are your dreams for the future?
A year and a half ago, I never thought we'd be where we are now with SOPHIA MAE. I'm not really one to vocalize my dreams. I just want to create beautiful things, be happy, and feel that we're on the right path. That's what matters most to me. I don't want any feelings of uncertainty. I think that with the entire SOPHIA MAE team, we're on the right track, and together we'll always ensure that things work out.
Do you have more time to focus on entrepreneurship since you've stopped vlogging?
I don't feel like my schedule has become any less busy. I don't believe that if you're passionate about something, it should be limited to certain hours. It's not as if it stops exactly at 5:00 PM, and we'll pick up the rest tomorrow. When you're passionate about something, it's a constant flow, and you make time for it.
Are SOPHIA MAE products available in stores?
Not yet, but we're actively working on it. We would love to make SOPHIA MAE products available in stores across the country so that people from every province can experience the scents. We're currently doing this through samples, but it's different from being able to take your time to go somewhere and try out the products. If you have ideas or tips for nice stores in your area, please do send them to us! Who knows, maybe we can start a conversation together.