Incognito: Marina Genet, Head of PR, Maison Francis Kurkdjian
As one of the most prolific and celebrated perfumers of our time, Francis Kurkdijan has more than likely spent time in your home without you even realising it. If not with global bestseller My Burberry, then perhaps it was with Elie Saab’s, Le Parfum. Or maybe he has made it into your handbag with our personal favourite, Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her. As the undisputed Parisian King of scent, Francis has been creating notes and telling stories for some of the most respected names in fashion for more than twenty years. But after having created more than 40 best sellers, a move towards a namesake label was only a matter of time, and so came Maison Francis Kurkdijan in 2009.
Working to bring the Francis Kurkdijan name from the periphery and into the spotlight is PR veteran Marina Genet, who with a touch of luck and preparation on her side fell into the dream role and hasn’t looked back since. Learning the tricks of the trade through hands-on experience with some of France’s most respected companies, Marina gained much of her hands on experience working for the likes of Chanel in the 90’s. And whilst she has graduated with a diploma in communications, she credits her successful career to learning on the job.
Get to know more about the PR dream job and what it really takes to make it in the business from Marina …
Tell us how it all started?
Francis Kurkdjian called me for help to organize a press event. His previous PR manager had resigned and we had one month left to organize the event. It was supposed to be a three months collaboration. It’s been almost 3 years now – it has been an amazing journey since day one.
Tell us why communications and PR?
As far as I can remember, I always loved organizing events and imagining stories. I always wanted a job that boosted me, that allowed me to meet people and creatives ones. Thanks to my experience at Bourjois Chanel in the mid 90’s, I definitely knew that Communications and PR would be my working life.
What is your background in PR?
I started my career more than 20 years ago when PR were not so common in France but already in crisis. Most of my learnings come from my real professional experiences more than my studies. I graduated from a European Bachelor of Communication (a three-year higher education diploma) in Paris.
What is the best part of your job?
To be part of this beautiful story and entrepreneurial journey. Maison Francis Kurkdjian carries the name of one of the most influential perfumers of our times, but has been cofounded by Marc Chaya, a former partner at Ernst & Young, and Francis Kurkdjian in 2009. The House is relatively recent but I strongly believe it is now established among the key players in high end perfumery. There is a lot to do and to build. I have the chance to work with different internal and external departments (marketing, product development, creative) and to meet a variety of creative and talented people.
One thing people would’t expect about your job?
We have a such small team…
How important is knowing English and French to your role? And are there any other languages you need to know?
Due to Maison Francis Kurkdjian worldwide development and to my position in the company, I need to work in English. Otherwise, speaking a foreign language is still a benefit and a way to form a bond with people.
Do you work across multiple time zones? And how do you manage this?
Insuring PR coordination with our partners from Australia to the US we cover a very large time zone. So, we take this into account in our daily work. We often wander the globe…
Tell us what the Maison Francis Kurkdjian brand is all about…
Sketching a fragrance wardrobe with myriad of facets of emotions, a collection of fine fragrances writing a number of sensory adventures.
Designed in the tradition of luxury French perfumery, Francis Kurkdjian advocates nevertheless a contemporary vision of the art of creating and wearing perfume. His unique personality is fostered by his creative power being in the house master perfumer and creative director, who has a taste for precision. All that is also made possible because of the duet he forms with Marc Chaya, president and co-founder of the Company. It’s rather unique in the perfume world.
Describe a typical day in PR for Maison Francis Kurkdjian…
There is no routine. This is probably why it is so exciting to go to work every day! Insuring PR coordination with our partners from Australia to the US and our key markets, we have always projects in progress such as interviews, press events for new product launches, personal appearances for Francis Kurkdjian or Marc Chaya, customer events, artistic collaborations… Presently, Francis Kurkdjian has been asked to create a unique perfume to scent the entrance of the exhibition Versailles: Treasures from the Palace exhibition, opening at the National Gallery of Australia on 9 December 2017. You can imagine how exciting this is but also how it can be difficult to organize everything from Paris. It’s so far away for Australia.
What roles internally and externally do you work closely with?
As defined by Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s board, Head of Communication and Press is an interdisciplinary role. My mission goes over press and public relations, having also in charge the production of editorial content for the packaging, the instruction uses, the customer newsletters, the leaflets…
This very large scope of work allows me to collaborate with the marketing and commercial team, the graphic studio but also directly with Francis Kurkdjian. We work very closely on the story telling of each fragrance.
I am also in contact with the movie maker, the photographer and the music artist working on the video we produced for each fragrance in the last 3 years now. In a way, creation is also part of my job!
How does a role in PR keep you busy?
It keeps me busy all the day and sometimes more… There is a saying in French “when you love you do not count” (“Quand on aime, on ne compte pas”).
Why is every day different?
I have the chance to work for Francis Kurkdjian who has always many projects to come and new ideas.
As said, depending the state of progress of a project, I share my time between the writing (that takes me lot of time) and operational tasks. We are also a small team so we take part in many different things. We never get bored!
Talk us through the office vibes…
Excellent… We all are very proud to be part of the success of Maison Francis Kurkdjian, boosted by the energy and the vision of the co-founders. We have a great demographic and a mix of cultures and profiles with 10 nationalities within our 25 members of the Paris team. It’s so nurturing.
Our office has a typical Parisian design: fireplace in marble, parquet floor, bow-window.
What does perfume mean to you?
It’s my day to day life… Before joining the company, I was loyal to a couple of fragrances. Now, I truly endorse the idea of the Fragrance Wardrobe as I experience it every day for myself. I have a natural love for powdery scents. However, I have learnt to tame the fragrances from Maison Francis Kurkdjian. And now, I choose my fragrance depending my mood, my agenda and my style. I really love the idea of Fragrance Wardrobe.