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Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Francois Hénin founder of Jovoy perfume and Jeroboam perfumes came from a very classic and quite traditional family, son of a university teacher and a father in finance, He had quite a classic education, boarding then business school. After a stint as a DJ and a few crazy years in Vietnam he was recruited by a perfume company in France where he worked until he created Jovoy. We caught up with Francois Hénin during the pandemic to reflect on his priorities, and to laugh a little.

IRK: Tell us about yourself before Jovoy perfume?

Hénin: I guess the entrepreneurship DNA in my blood is a bit strong so I was not made for working in a big organisation. I originally set up a small trading company based in Saigon in the South of Vietnam. Then at the age of 25 I discovered that I had to do my military service…. I closed my business and managed to find a mission for a French company in … Vietnam. But not Saigon, the big city with an interesting nightlife for a young man like me who was DJing a bit in bars and clubs, for fun, and “a few” free drinks too. No, my mission in the north, at the Chinese border which was the total opposite. I was awakened by the propaganda screaming almost from the speakers, and again at 5 pm. When I woke up back in Saigon at the WE… the same speakers would greet us all saying how proud we can be of the work we did, that Ho Chi Minh would be proud of me, and of course, for a romantic touch, I can’t forget the family planning announcements at bedtime.

IRK: Tell us a little bit about your brand?

Hénin: Jovoy does not only have stores in Paris, London, Doha and Dubai but also a collection of unique perfumes and heavily scented candles. Our newest creations under the Jeroboam brand are dedicated to perfume extracts only, in bottles of 30 ml only, ideal for the nomads we were before being confined at home…

IRK: What do you think we will learn from this extraordinary time and how will it affect you / your business/your life?

Hénin: Well I am old but not old enough to have known war or privations! It is interesting to see that our generation is not ready for confinement and our world is discovering how fragile we all are. Ideally, we should learn our lessons and come out with a stronger determination to preserve our planet, respect nature and humans. I hope our greed is not going to kill our enthusiasm and that we will be better to ourselves and our environment too. This period also is a unique moment in our “busy lives” to give back time to time. We have to go back to the roots and show patience, care, love to our families, our better halves. Our kids need time, our wives or husbands need our support. We have to make these challenging times a rock on which our lives will be based upon, until our very end.

And now the easy ones:

IRK: Favourite Colour?

Hénin: Blue, I am a fish, I love water but spend my days in the sky, dreaming.

IRK: When you were growing up what did you want to be?

Hénin: A cook! I almost stopped school and was encouraged by family but finally life decided on another path for me.

IRK: Name the place you’d most like to live?

Hénin: On Oleron Island growing tomatoes and fishing.

IRK: What’s the first thing you want to do when you come out of Lockdown?

Hénin: Get drunk, but with many friends this time.

IRK: You’re hosting a dinner party what’s your signature dish?

Hénin: I am mister BBQ. My wife stole and improved all my dishes so the only things left for me is the BBQ.

IRK: Dogs or Cats?

Hénin: Dogs, cats are too selfish, I still have a scar on my face after a nice looking cat scratched me when I was a kid.

IRK: What was your nickname at school?

Hénin: The dwarf. My French family name gives rise to a bad joke. ‘Henin’ could also be said ‘Hey Nain’ and the work Nain means dwarf. And then I grew up so much kids dropped it J

IRK: Most influential person in your life?

Hénin: I would say my father but since my mom is the real boss…

IRK: If you could go back in time to which period would you go to?

Hénin: The discovery of America, but in my dream I have a stock of antibiotics and a few buddies with loaded guns. I love the movie “Mission” I think I would change the end of the story…

IRK: Name an Instagram account you follow.

Hénin: I don’t.

IRK: Favourite museum or gallery

Hénin: The museum of middle ages torture in Zagreb, (the museum of tarantulas was closed that day), always amazed to see how creative human is to torture the other one.

IRK: If money were no object, what luxury item would you buy yourself?

Hénin: A boat, a rather big one.

IRK: Favourite album (music)?

Hénin: Bob Marley and the wailers

IRK: Person you’d love to meet?

Hénin: A few politicians, just to confirm that we agree to disagree.

IRK: Describe your ultimate romantic date.

Hénin: Pizza, movie, long leave the confinement.

IRK: You are happiest when…….?

Hénin: I had a big long night of sleep without one of my five kids waking me up asking for anything that has nothing to do with the great dream I was having.

IRK: What makes you sad?

Hénin: Stupidity, lack of generosity, limited selfish visions.

IRK: If you could change one thing about the world?

Hénin: I would end hunger and thirst. With a filled belly it’s easier to face other matters.

IRK: What’s the first thing on your bucket list?

Hénin: Swim in the ocean.

IRK: What have you learnt during lockdown?

Hénin: That family is all that is left in the end so why not start by making family life better.

IRK: Book shop or record Shop?

Hénin: Record shop

IRK: Name your favourite book?

Hénin: The art of war from Sun Tzu and for one that I loved to read, The Man With the Miraculous Hands by Joseph Kessel.

IRK: Pet hate? (a pet hate is something that you don’t like so, for example, my pet hate is when people drop litter)

Hénin: Impolite people.

IRK: Prize Possession

Hénin: Don’t understand the meaning.

IRK: How many tattoos/piercings do you have?

Hénin: None but I have a few scars.

IRK: Gym or Jim Beam?

Hénin: Black label, on the rocks

IRK: What colour are your eyes?

Hénin: Whatever colour you prefer darling.

IRK: Junk Food - what is your dirty secret

Hénin: Big Mac, I can’t resist this stuff.

IRK: What’s your poison? (what do you like to drink)

Red Burgundy wine.

IRK: Describe your morning routine.

Hénin: Coffee and cigarette in the garden.

IRK: Where do you call home?

Hénin: At the airport

IRK: What makes you laugh?

Hénin: My kids who keep on finding where I hide the chocolate….

IRK: What perfume/aftershave do you use?

Hénin: Vespero from Jeroboam, my bott