Friday, October 3, 2014

Geir Ness: Norway's First International Fragrance Designer

Obsessed with film and television shows as far back as I can remember, I always enjoy learning how a celebrity got their big break.

Teenager Lauren Bacall was acting and modeling in New York, when Hollywood powerhouse Howard Hawks asked his secretary to find out more about Bacall, who was featured on the March, 1943 cover of Harper's Bazaar. Misunderstanding, his secretary sent Bacall a ticket to Hollywood to audition for To Have and Have Not.

In the 1970's, Harrison Ford was both an actor and a carpenter. While installing a door at George Lucas' film studio, he caught Lucas' attention and was cast as Han Solo in Star Wars.

Norwegian Geir Ness hardly spoke English while a fragrance model at a department store in Los Angeles. He wanted to become Norway's first major fragrance designer, so he purchased a $5 suit, retrieved a red carpet from the garbage and secured a photographer (who couldn’t afford camera film). Then, with students from his acting class pretending to know him as a mega-celebrity from Norway, Geir pulled off a publicity stunt at Nordstrom that landed him his first order of 1,000 bottles of Laila perfume.

Geir Ness in Norway

Nordstrom thought the order would last three months. It sold out in an hour.

You likely know Geir now offers in stores and online Laila Eau de Parfum (named after his mother) and Geir for Men.

Laila Eau de Parfum

Geir for Men

He also designs handbags, one of which Tara-Nicole Azarian was seen sporting at the Golden Globes.

Tara-Nicole Azarian at the Golden Globes

Despite his hectic schedule, Geir found a few moments for me.

I started with: It's very nice to meet you. What are you currently working on?

A new handbag for the winter season. A gift set for my new skin care line, Skin of Norway. New packaging for Laila. And a new face scrub for Geir, as well as a shaving gel/shower gel combo.

And you seem to be traveling all around the U.S.A. via your partnership with Nordstrom.

Working with Nordstrom is a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting lots of interesting people.

Any standout moments?

One winter day I was in Chicago doing an event with Nordstrom. The next morning I was booked to be a guest speaker at a big trend show with Nordstrom in Detroit. But a snowstorm shut down the Chicago airport, so I rented a car and drove in the storm straight to Detroit. I arrived at 7:59 am. The MC introduced me as I walked on stage at 8 AM sharp. Whatever it takes, you can make it happen. After that show, I sold out of every single piece. :-)

Geir Ness and his mother, Laila

Fulfilling a personal goal to help others, Geir donates both his time and money to a long list of foundations and charities: the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Los Angeles AIDS Ride, and SumoKids Foundation are just a few.

In 2009, he teamed up with Norwegian Olympic Gold Medalist, Grete Waitz, to run in the New York Marathon to support of the Grete Waitz Cancer Foundation. When Grete was unable to participate due to chemotherapy, Geir ran the marathon on her behalf to raise money for cancer patients. His time was an amazing 4 hours, 28 minutes. They raised close to $300,000 for the charity.

Referring to his success as the designer of Norway's first international fragrance, Geir says, "The American Dream can come true and it does not stop here, always more to come!"

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