Amazing People of 2016
Inspiration of the Year: Geir Ness
THURSDAY, JANUARY 05, 2017 MICHELLE LANDRIAULT
As I sit here and look back at the years, there have been a few people that I’ve looked up to who have changed something within me. They end up being these little voices that speak to you when you’re in the struggle. Sometimes it’s God, other times it’s your parents or friends… for me that person was an inspiration in my life, it was Geir Ness.
Geir was a person I met when I was blogging for Affairs Magazine somewhere around 2010. I interviewed him for his fragrance line and went on to my next project, but something about his story always stuck with me. Later I started following his social media, keeping up with him and what he was up to. I noticed his successes and how gracefully he accepted them, while always putting others first. Geir has an empire now; including Fragrance (men’s and women’s by the way), Handbags, and an Award Winning Skincare line. For me, Geir was someone who proved to me that I can do it. I can be successful, I can achieve my goals, and I’ll get there.
That’s how Geir won Inspiration of 2016 I know he will inspire you to do it too. Go get em guys, believe in yourself… you CAN do it!
Who is Geir Ness?
I was born and raised in Norway, but eventually I ended up working as a tour guide in Spain. After a couple of years in Spain, I moved to Los Angeles to work as an actor, but my life turned into a whole new direction than I had anticipated. Working on the side as an salesperson in the fragrance department at a department store, customers kept asking me why there was no fragrance from Norway. That gave me the idea to start and to create a fragrance, which I felt would represent my mom. The start was difficult and since I didn’t have any money I even sold some of my clothes to make rent and pay other bills, just to continue with my journey.
What are your favorite places to travel?
I love Spain! The people, the food, the culture, it gives you a feeling of belonging and comfort. But moving to the states, I fell in love with (New York City), and its great energy and incredible melting pot of people from all over the world. I’m a big fan of musicals, so Broadway is where you will find me when I am in NYC.
What is your most addicting personality?
Well, for sure working out. I love my time at the gym, just leaving my cell phone and my work in the locker room and forget for about one hour, everything business-oriented and just have my personal Geir downtime! It is very important to me, to have a balanced life and a balanced Geir!
What are your favorite foods?
I love egg whites in the morning with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and fruits. I am huge fan of salads (but no crème dressing, just basic balsamic vinegar, a bit of olive oil and spices) and 3-4 days a week I have Salmon with steam vegetables. Here and there I allow myself one glass of red wine.
What is your inspiration behind Laila?
When I was a little boy, my mom always took me out for hikes either in the mountains or outdoor in parks or we visited the Fjords of Norway. I wanted a scent that reminded me about my childhood, something fresh and clean. Of course I named it after the love of my life: My Mom!
How did you get started? Tell us about the struggle
I was working at a department store in the fragrance department to promote perfumes and people always ask me where I was from, and when I said Norway, they asked me if Norway has their own signature fragrance and the answer was always, of course, no! It gave me the idea, since we didn’t have any Norwegian fragrance, maybe I should develop one myself. After some intense research, I contacted a perfumer, who I have met some time ago, and asked for advice. He was very happy to assist me and explained to me, what are the important steps I need to take to move forward. Following his advice, the first step was finding the ingredients that I liked and from there I had to hire a chemist and find a good lab. Of course everything was expensive and I did not have the money for the expenses to develop my fragrance. But then I thought of my childhood and how my mom always told me, “You can achieve anything in life, as long as you believe in yourself!” I decided to take the risk and venture into this business, I borrowed money from a friend of mine, I maxed out my credit card and I started to do more research and worked on it for several years, until I finally came up with the scent that reminded me of fresh air in the Norwegian mountains. I copied my mom’s signature without her knowing it, silk screened her name on the bottle, and gave it to her for Mother’s Day. So far I had produced only a couple of hundred bottles.
After few intense months contacting all the major department stores, (always received a NO) I finally met with the buyer at Nordstrom department store and they eventually agreed on taking in a hundred bottles to see how much I can sell in three months. The catch was simple; if I didn’t sell I had to take them all back and I only had one chance to make it happen. Realizing this was my only opportunity, I had this great idea to pretend I am already a big star. I went to a garage sale, bought a suit for five dollars and a small red carpet. It was like the universe was guiding me and showing me I was heading into the right direction.
I called a good friend of mine from acting school, he was a photographer, and asked him if he can come down to Nordstrom and take a picture of me when I launch my fragrances. It was also my first personal appearance, so it needed to like I was a big star from Norway. He told me he didn’t have any film in his camera and couldn’t afford to buy any, I simply responded, “Who cares, nobody will know, just keep clicking the camera and make look like a star.”
So the day before Mother’s Day, I was dressed up in my new suit from the garage sale and placed the red carpet in front of me at the counter and behind me were all my bottles with my photos. I made sure when customers enter the store, they could not miss me, and had to walk to meet me, because there is this guy, tall with his blond hair, photographer flashing his camera lights and I had to think he must be somebody very, very special and well-known. In one hour I sold out all my bottles and even got people on the waiting list for back-orders. That’s how I started my adventure/business and the rest is history.
What are you working on now?
I am birthing a project with Disney and it will be released in early 2017.
What are your favorite foods to eat while you’re traveling?
I love chicken, turkey in the morning, egg whites, spinach, broccoli, tomato–very healthy, and I drink a lot of water all the time.
What is YOUR mission statement, what goals have you achieved through your brand?
My mom has taught me always to do the best I can, try to be every day a better person and make a difference in another person’s life! Because of my fragrance, I have been very lucky to meet a lot of wonderful people from all walks of life and through my conversations, I learned much about cultures, history and of course business. It made me for sure a better person helping and supporting the less fortunate, but in particular our wonderful four-legged friends. Whenever time allows, I try to visit the animal shelters around the country and try to bring some happiness to those beautiful sweet four-legged friends that really, really need a lot of attention, support and love.
What advice do you have for someone starting a small business?
Believe in yourself, never give up, and surround yourself with positive energetic people.
Who is your favorite fashion designer and what’s your favorite style?
I will always be an Armani fan, but there are so many new designers that I love, I can’t even mention all of them but my favorite style is something more casual, stylish, chic and fitted. I like to mix and match.
What’s the best way to describe the women who wear your perfume?
I really can’t answer that question, because I have young teenagers who love my fragrance, mothers and grandmothers. The women who wear my fragrance come from all walks of life, but what they all have in common, they want something different that feels fresh, light and makes them feel happy.
You have several product lines; please tell us about Geir for men, the Skincare line, your purse line… (When were they started, what inspired you to create them?)
My inspiration for my skin care line, just like my fragrance, it has to be clean, light, and fresh. Seeking native herbs like those harvested from the hillsides, I harnessed the power of locally-sourced antioxidants, hydrators, mineral chrono-energizers and cell-repairing agents. These natural ingredients were specially selected to protect skin from damage, make it resistant to premature aging and restore skin’s normal function even in hostile environments. I created veritable cell-life cocktails designed to maintain a healthy skin throughout your life.
All of my products, current and future, will always be based on the same inspiration and principles; light, fresh and clean just like the air of Norway. Geir fragrance, just like Laila, was created to bring a new clean, crisp scent for men on the market. Since I wanted to continue with my vision of dreams come true and inspiration, I thought I would name it after myself, to show that no matter what your goal is, “You” can achieve it.
From the beginning when I started Laila, my creative mind wandered outside the fragrance line, and what a better way to combine my design ideas with a hand bag. Through my travel I meet many wonderful ladies and through the conversations I get inspired and create my ideas of how to design a bag that is light, fun, chic, and adjustable to the needs of the modern working woman who wants to go from her job to a dinner or special event. I keep it simple, but elegant and workable for every occasion.
Any advice for someone in the struggle? Think of this as your best “dad” advice 🙂
Again, if you struggle you have to believe in yourself; don’t be hard on yourself either. It’s OK to struggle, since it teaches you that nothing comes easy. Trust me, I have scrubbed floors, I worked odd jobs to make ends meet, kept moving forward and all of a sudden, things will change eventually. But never give up and be good to yourself, never put yourself down and if somebody else tries to do that, stay away from them and surround yourself with good people that you know will always be there for you in good and bad times.