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Show(er) and tell: How Helen Turns An Idea Into A Function Fragrance

BY Laura Casciola
Show(er) and Tell is a series based off of the idea that we have some of our best thoughts (you know where this is going…) in the shower. So we’re getting staff + contributors alike to tell us about the things that cross their mind in the shower and we’re sharing the best ones with you. Have something you want to show(er) and tell us? Yours could be next.

On this round of show(er) and tell what we have to show is our newest fragrance, takes two to (m)ango. It’s our top rated but I’ll keep things humble.

It feels like the perfect time to tell a little bit about how the fragrances, colors, and products are dreamt up and then become real, tangible parts of function’s line. The perfect person to speak to on this is Innovation Manager, Helen Hu, so I sat down with her to get the scoop.

Me: Okay, spill– how did you think of takes two to (m)ango?! What’s the process of taking something from just an idea to making the magic happen in real life?

Helen: So mango started as a concept before I got involved with fragrance development. But overall- most of our ideas actually come straight from our customers. They’re super engaged and have tons of great ideas. We’re always sending out surveys to our customers to learn more about what they want. We’ve even leveraged Instagram stories to ask a broader audience. People will comment and request certain fragrances even just on regular posts (without us asking) – it’s amazing how involved function’s fans are. We take the requests seriously into consideration– screenshotting what people say and taking note! It’s really simple: we just listen to our customers. Mango was always exciting because people have been asking for it for such a long time.

On top of listening to our customers, we use market data, stay on top of trends, and host internal brainstorms with the Function team (they know the brand better than anyone) to come up with winning ideas!

Me: Love that. So once you dream up a fragrance, you tell the fragrance house and then they just like concoct it?

Helen: Yeah, once we have a concept we will brief our fragrance houses, who are some of the best in the world. Professional perfumers will then go in and make the magic happen. They will concoct and submit tons of different variations of the concept we want to achieve. We go through a LOT of samples. We’ll evaluate all of them and do internal testing. Then, we select what we think our customers will like the best and make sure it’s compatible with our products. We test the fragrance with our subscribers first to get their feedback. As a subscriber, you have the opportunity to opt into product testing – we usually refresh the list every few months so if you’re a subscriber and interested, keep an eye out for the next sign up opportunity!

Our fragrances need to meet a very high satisfaction rating for us to be able to move forward with it. We won’t launch anything unless our customers really love it.

Me: K it’s time for you to brag a little bit. What’s been an idea you came up with that you’re the most proud of?

Helen: Hmm! Function green was so fun to make. We launched at the end of January! We have so many colors and then didn’t have our own brand identity color?! So it was very well loved. It was great to pair up with chemists to make it– it wasn’t the easiest to formulate because it’s so specific, but we were so excited to get it right. It’s actually our first color launch since 2019 and It’s been one of our most popular since it launched! I wonder what the perfect fragrance for function green would be…

Me: Since this is show(er) and tell I have to ask, as someone on our innovation team, what ideas do you come up with in the shower!?

Helen: It’s funny because I feel like when I’m in the shower and I’m missing something- a product, a scent, a tool, anything- I think: maybe we should make that. I’m a Function customer too, so I think about things in my life that I want and want customized by Function. I’ve brought many of those ideas to the table. We’re always brainstorming – I am excited for the world to see what we come up with next!