Caroline Hallereau-Williams fell in love with the world fragrance in her teenage years in France while reading a novel, Perfume: Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskin, which tells a story of a murderer with a high sense of smell. Scent spoke to her, from the the jasmine and orange blossom fragrance she woke up to in her home in Provence, to her mother’s intoxicating perfumes, like Chanel n.5 and Femme de Rochas, that she stole and wore even if they were a bit too mature for a sixteen year old girl. While Christine became a high school teacher, her love for fragrance expanded to a full addiction for all beauty and makeup. It was only when she moved in 200, to join her new husband in Wilmington, North Carolina, that she started a career in beauty becoming a sales specialist at the Dillard’s Dior counter. Selected to take the Fragrance Foundation Certified Fragrance Specialists Course, she achieved the top score on the exam and won the most prestigious award in the industry, The Fragrance Foundation Award. We had the pleasure of meeting her at the ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental in New York and chat about her experience behind the beauty counter.

Congratulations on your award! Very exciting. What was the most interesting thing that you learned in the fragrance specialist course?

I became very interested in the physiology of fragrance and scent. Of all the senses, scent is the one that creates the longest-lasting memory. The fragrance molecules reach your brain and stay for many years to come. I find that fascinating.

Tell us what some of your favorite fragrances are.

I love Eau Svelte by Dior. Unfortunately, it is only available in Europe, so I stock up when I travel there. J’Adore Voile de Parfum is another fantastic Dior scent, with white musk and Tuscan iris. Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder is truly the scent of the beach captured in a bottle. I am not faithful to only one fragrance…

It must be very chaotic working at the beauty counter all day. Tell us about the good and the bad of the job.

I absolutely love my job. I feel like I am directly touching people’s lives and making a difference. Women will come up to the counter, and leave in a totally different, happy mood. I love doing their makeup, it connects me to them. On the another hand,  I am a sensitive person, so if someone is very stressed or depressed, I really absorb the tension and negativity. It is also tiring, you have to stay on your feet all day for five days a week.

How do you make sure the makeup fits the person?

I always try to listen to my customers and ask a lot of questions. I give them a mirror to hold, so they can see what I am doing and I can sense their reactions. Most of the time, my clients agree with the look I give them, but if they don’t, we work together to find something that makes them happy. Ultimately, the customer is always right.

How do you help someone pick out a fragrance?

Helping someone pick a fragrance is trickier. I always start off by asking what kind of scents they normally wear, and I try to stay in the same olfactive family. I make them try the scent directly on their skin, and never put more than three. If a customer is purchasing a gift, I ask questions about the person they are buying it for. I give samples with the final purchase though, so they can come and exchange it before opening it.

Are there any new products you are excited about for spring?

Yes, the new Glow products by Dior are extremely popular. It is a set of blush, lip gloss and nail polish, and it is flying off the shelves.

Have more questions? Connect with Caroline on Pampadour!