Hero’s come in all shapes, sizes, colors and smells. Geir Ness is the definition of a modern day hero, not only because he changed the story of his life, but because he found a way to offer the unimaginable to others. Geir…born in Norway, came to the states in the pursuit of building the Hollywood dream but as I often say, your no’s point you towards your yes. Today, he is one of the top perfume sellers all over the country. His new line Frozen In a Bottle, which he partnered with Disney, takes the inspiration of the iconic Frozen story to the ultimate level. Chatting with him over brunch in Los Angeles blew my mind. Having the opportunity to share his story reminded me that being of service in this world comes in all forms. I am thankful this is one of them. I hope through Geir Ness and his incredible perfume (which I have been wearing and getting compliments on) it inspires you to find what’s possible and defy the impossible.
Mm: I am sitting in this amazing cafe in West Hollywood, Hugo’s with Geir Ness who just dropped his new fragrance Frozen with Disney. He has been in this industry for quite some time, yet I am most intrigue by his back story. It wasn't his first line of passion to create mens and women’s fragrances. Although, Geir has been able to create a whole brand that is successful and thriving. How did you go from, pursuing your passion in acting to saying, I am now making perfumes that are doing well?
Geir: It started when I was very little. My mom would take me up to the mountains in Norway. I always loved nature because we had a very small place. We had a one bedroom apartment with my three brothers, so we didn't have much space… so we spent a lot of time outside. I remember the smell of Norway just beautiful, clean and light. I could separate flowers sent’s as well and I have always loved great smells. What happened was, I was working in Spain as a tour guide and I did some cabaret shows. One thing led to another and I went to Los Angeles, where I studied producing, directing acting and the whole thing. When I was in school, I needed some extra money and a friend of mine was in the fragrance industry and gave me a job as a fragrance model. I had no clue what that was, and he said, “ just go and spray people, that’s it”. So, I thought he literally meant it. Spray everybody that comes into the store. I’m spraying people with a perfume bottle as they come into the store— I am running after them. Then the manager of the store said to me excuse me, I don’t think this job is for you. I basically got fired after a few minutes of doing that job. Then, I got another job at a department store spraying people but this time, I learned how to talk to people. Then people started coming up to me all the time, asking me where I’m from. When I said, I’m from Norway— they would ask me, does Norway have their own signature fragrance? I thought about it! Then one day, I was invited to this big event with this designer in LA and there was a retired perfumer at the party. I started to talk to him and I asked him how do you create a fragrance? He said, first of all you have to find ingredients that you like. The first thing that came to my mind when he said that was the nature in Norway with the wildflowers and all of that. So, I started to work on this and he was helping me seeing that he is a retired perfumer. So, I went back to Norway collecting different flowers for the sent that I wanted and finally, I came up with a sent but I didn't have any money to produce it. I maxed out my credit card and borrowed money from a friend of mine and produced 1,000 bottles. I also, wanted a name that meant something to me. I copied my moms signature without her knowing it. I silk screened her name to the bottle and gave it to her for mothers day. That is how the fragrance came up. Then I was sitting in LA with 1,000 bottles in my apartment, I called up departments stores. Nobody called me back and finally I got a meeting with Nordstroms with a buyer. She said to me, this is harder than show business you have no name —there is nothing we can do. But, finally she placed 100 bottles for consignment in one store to see how much I could sell in 3 months. This was happening the day before mothers day. I thought to myself, I have to be creative now, to really make this happen. I went to a garage sale and bought a suit for $5. At the garage sale, there was a red carpet laying on the ground so I got that as well. I had everything planned in my head. I called up a friend of mine John who is a photographer from my class and asked him if he could come down and take pictures of me so we can pretend thatI am a big star from Europe. He said, I would love to Geir but I have no film in my camera. I said, nobody knows that just flash away and make me “a star”. A few of my friends also came down to the event acting like I am a big deal and add to the whole thing. So people are starting to line up the day before mothers day on the red carpet and see this blond guy in a suit. In an hour, I sold out all the bottles and had people on a waiting list. Nordstroms called me up and said, what happened you sold out and they realized wow he’s got something and that is how I got started, little by little with the fragrance.
Mm: Wow, that is incredible. So from there seeing that this is something that essentially chose you. How do you go from having 1,000 bottles to having people on a waitlist, to then creating and selling more production?
Geir: When I started to sell, and make a little money was coming in. I began to produce more bottles and I got more retail. Nordstroms opened me up in more stores. Since I sold out in one store I got to be in two stores, three stores, four stores. So, I stared to do promotion in the stores. I would go and visit the stores and talk with customers and signing bottles just really build my brand up. I was invited on a big TV show in Norway when the fragrance came out. I went on with my mom, it was a live TV show. I didn'tknow what they were going to do but the host came out and said, we are going to do a blind test and see how good your perfume really is. They had Miss Norway and different models come in and smell all different fragrance lines—mine was one of them. I was so nervous because it was a live TV show. I am sitting there looking at my mom sweating like a pig, thinking this is it, you know!
Geir: They started at the bottom and then they went up. I ended up winning and I looked right into the camera and said, next Saturday…. I am going to be at this store, come and see me. I will sign your bottle. Before the store even opened, they had over 100 people lined up outside. We ended up selling out at that location as well in Norway. It was really fun for me to see if you just believe in it and you go for it. Then, I got into Nordstroms and I started to work with Disney.
Mm: How did you garner a relationship with Disney?
Geir: So at Disney World Epcot, you have different pavilions with different countries. They have Italy, they have France, they have Norway so I got my fragrance into the Norway pavilion — because, I’m from Norway. I started to do promotions while I was there and it became such a hit. Now it is one of the best selling fragrances in Disney World. Working with them, was a thrill for me. After they did the movie frozen they approached me and said, have you thought about a fragrance for the movie? I then had meetings with Disney to try and capture the essence of the film and the nature of the movie. I wanted to truly capture what they did. I worked with them for a couple of years and we came up with the name Frozen in a bottle to capture all the elements in the movie into the bottle. Like a fresh clean, light sent.
Mm: I was just about to ask you what are those elements in this fragrance, which I love and have right here with me right now!!!
Geir: One of the main ingredients is fresh lavender extract. So its very light. I have Lilly of the valley, which is a very popular beautiful flower during the spring time in Norway. I have a touch of roses in it, and at the end the ambers to make it very soft and light.
Mm: How long did it take for you to get from the idea conception to the actual final product?
Geir: It took a little more than two years, from when I started to the time I finished it. Now we are launching this at Disney. I will be there signing bottles taking pictures and having fun with it.
Mm: Will it be available only at Disney World?
Geir: It will be exclusively available only at Disney Epcot in the beginning. Then next we are opening in downtown Disney Land at the Disney store there. After that, we are doing a Disney cruise line. So, I will be constantly doing promotions and signings. Plus, people can follow me on Instagram, and shopdisney.com
Mm: If the successful person, you are today, were to say something to yourself 20 years ago, what would you say? And, what would you say to yourself in 10 years?
Geir: I think if you have a dream and you see someone create something from nothing. Ask them how did they did that. To have a dream is important and to visualize yourself in a certain way is important. I looked at myself when I first started and saw a red carpet in front of me. I saw stars, I saw this and it drove me. I didn't know how to get there but I know how to work hard. There were times it was up and down, I had a promotional event with Nordstroms and there was a lot of ice on the ground that day. The flight was four hours late, I got to the airport. I think it was in Cleveland or somewhere and I fell and ALL the bottles broke inside my bag. I went into Nordstroms wet as a cat but still smiling. You just have to go with it and never feel sorry for yourself— just go and believe in it. 10 years from now, if I continue doing all of this promotion, I will just keep doing it better and better as well as. Trying to get the story out to more people on how important it is to believe in yourself and surround yourself with good people. Get rid of all the negativity around you and try to not focus on all of that. It is easy today in this crazy world to focus on the negativity and all the bad things. Yet, isn't it better to focus on the good things and help other people. I do a lot of charity work and work within animal shelters. That really drives me to, to see that you can help somebody become successful. It’s not all about yourself, its about other people and that is the most important thing for me from the bottom of my heart.
Mm: That was so amazing and powerful. I know that you are going to continue to have success. So thank you for doing us a service by following your purpose and taking the time to chat with me.
Geir: Thank you so much!