As the name indicates, entering Oo La Lab, with locations in Singapore and Dubai, is not unlike stepping into a chemistry laboratory. Through private or group sessions and fragrance consultations, customers are invited to immerse themselves in the process of perfume creation. Guided by a perfume mixologist, customers create their own scents in as quickly as 90 minutes, though sessions can last up to two hours.
Founded in Singapore by Terry Jacobson, Oo La Lab empowers customers to learn about perfumery and craft bespoke scents. Alongside a collection of pre-made, cruelty-free fine fragrances and fragrance products, Oo La Lab also stocks perfume mixology kits that allow customers to formulate their own scents at home and explore four fragrance styles (fresh, floral, woody, and sweet).
Retail in Asia speaks with Terry Jacobson on the brand’s approach to custom scents, and its ambitions to create a game-changing fragrance company in Asia.
RiA: Can you tell us about how you arrived at creating Oo La Lab?
Jacobson: I did not always have an interest in fragrance, but I have always been fascinated by the human condition and how we connect to the world around us through our senses. I spent the previous two decades helping brands design signature fragrances. The process was, of course, fascinating, but what really caught me was how personal and often idiosyncratic our own experiences of fragrances could be and in turn what made us feel happy could be highly subjective.
In a world that seeks to nudge consumers into neatly defined categories, where most of our human senses have already succumbed, our sense of smell in a way represents a final bastion of something pure and personal. Oo La Lab represents a safe space for this creativity and human expression.
RiA: How did you envision the brand’s positioning in the fragrance industry?
Jacobson: Our brand inspires creative and cultural expression using fragrance as the medium. Oo La Lab is a platform to connect people, we were not looking to fill gaps in the market per se, but rather seeking to add value to the human condition. Our vision has remained the same from the outset, to celebrate humanity and to connect people through sensory play and cultural expression. Our audience is curious and hungry for new experiences, especially for fragrances that are unique and carry a strong narrative.
RiA: Oo La Lab has locations in Singapore and Dubai. Are there plans for the brand to expand further in Asia?
Jacobson: Being based in Singapore, it was a no-brainer to launch the brand here. Since I felt Asia, in general, had been left out of the global narrative on fragrance, there was an opportunity to build local identity and fluency in the language, art and style of fragrance, all while allowing room for local nuance.
Setting up in Dubai was really the opportunity for us to see if our offering passed the smell-test for originality, interest value and quality in a market that is known to be the global epicentre of perfume. Happy to say that we passed our test, which provided us with the validation that we can mix with the biggest brands in the world and that we have an important role to play within the complete beauty ecosystem.
We are in negotiations to open new territories and I look forward to making official announcements soon.
RiA: How would you describe the experience of visiting an Oo La Lab? How important is having a physical location for Oo La Lab?
Jacobson: Entering an Oo La Lab is empowering. We tease out elements of a science lab or chemistry class because we want our audience to lean into their creativity and experimental side. Our branding is consistent and used as a timeless backdrop where the ‘hero’ is always the customer experience.
That’s a really good question, regarding the importance of a physical location. The human experience of olfaction requires context and a sense of physical presence, however, we also cater to our virtual community via our mixology kits and our newly launched website.
RiA: What can we look forward to next from Oo La Lab?
Jacobson: We are working on exciting new locations to bring our spaces closer to our community. We are on the cusp of releasing a really powerful fine fragrance range – exquisite, unique, bold and super long lasting.
We will continue to strive to elevate the human experience, which will see us introduce new collaborations and also artistic expressions. We are not constrained by what the market wants or what others are doing. It’s difficult to pioneer if you are given in to these restrictions.