Behind the scenes: Odou magazine

by Stine Fantoft Berg in October 2015
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Independent magazines tend towards the niche, but Odou magazine is more specialised than most. Exploring smell and perfume through themes of memory, science, art and design, it dedicates itself to smell without wandering into scratch n’ sniff territory.

The first issue of Odou was launched in 2013, and now, after one failed Kickstarter and a successful Indeiegogo campaign, it’s back in a new and improved format. We met up with founder Liam Moore to find out more about the project.


What made you want to start Odou magazine?
In general, I’m a fan of the idea that if you want to do something, then go for it. As a designer, it’s also a great way to expand my personal portfolio. I’ve mainly worked with web and digital design, and by starting my own magazine I’ve been forced to learn how to work with print, how to edit, and all the other jobs that comes with it.

In terms of the topic, smell and perfume, I got really interested in it when I was working at the cosmetics company Lush. I realised there weren’t any magazines that focused on smell on a personal level. My only rule when it comes to the editorial content is that is must be accessible. A lot of writing about scent and perfumes is quite elitist, but I want to show that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to smells – it’s a totally personal experience.

Smell is often referred to as the fifth sense – it’s the sense people most often say they could live without. But actually it’s our strongest sense; the only one that’s directly connected to our brain, and the place in the brain where it’s registered is right next to the one that deals with memory.


Your fourth issue is rather different from the first three – it’s a bit smaller, and it all seems more refined.
The first issue launched in 2013, and I made three issues on a quite low scale using a print-on-demand service. I knew the quality wasn’t top notch, but at that point I just wanted to get it out there and test the market. By making the first three issues, I managed to build a small readership and realised that there were in fact other people interested in reading a magazine like ODOU.

At one point, a reader gave me some rather harsh criticism regarding the production values, which really gave me a kick in the ass to put some more money into it. And knowing that other people wanted to read it, there was no excuse not to.


How did you go about funding it?
Initially I set up a Kickstarter campaign, but when I didn’t reach my goal, I was forced to rethink, downscale the project and make everything tighter. I then relaunched on Indiegogo, which actually surpassed the goal I set.

Now, the print run is 700 and I work with a really great printer in Wales. Publishing Odou on the side of my full-time job has been a huge challenge; the learning curve has been really steep. But after seeing the latest issue, I’m really motivated to keep going.


What are your plans for the future of Odou?
There are so many things I’d like to do! in terms of the editorial content, I’d like to go into making themed issues. Specifically, I’d love to do one on leather. It’s interesting from a perfume perspective, but it also opens up to a lot of other angles: I could have an article on a leather goods maker, fetishism…

Reading about some of the obscure perfume ingredients mentioned on Odou really makes me curious as to what they smell like. Do you have any plans to incorporate actual smells in the magazine?
The Berlin-based magazine mono.kultur did a wonderful job incorporating scratch n’ sniff in their 23rd issue – the Norwegian perfumer, Sissel Tolaas, explored the smell of fear and the issue includes 12 smells from 12 different guys.

I would love to do a scratch n’ sniff but it’s a question of money. However, I am currently in the process of developing a Odou scent, so stay tuned for that!


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