Good Company: How Cultus Artem Captures “The Beauty of a Bygone Age”

When Holly Tupper created the Cultus Artem fragrance, skin care and jewelry brand in 2015, she wanted to “step back from today’s predilections for mass production and disposables and capture the beauty of a bygone era, ”she says. “Artists from an earlier era went to great lengths to provide a total experience for their clientele. At Cultus Artem, we adhere to this desire.

Born in New York City to a family of artists (her mother was a floral designer and her father was a stockbroker, sculptor and art collector), Tupper, 66, discovered her love for perfumes while living in Singapore, the leading to study perfumery in Grasse. , France, and later in Bangkok. It was also in Singapore that she learned traditional Chinese goldsmithing and then launched her first collection of jewelry.

For Tupper, it is essential to maintain the independence of the brand: without corporate investors or potential constraints on the part of the shareholders, Cultus Artem responds only to the creative vision of its founder. It extends to how each item is manufactured and developed. All design, manufacturing and packaging is done at Cultus Artem’s headquarters and workshop, located in the historic Bell Central Office building in San Antonio, TX. As Tupper says: “Cultus Artem is more than a brand; it’s a house.”

“I think consumers, especially as we go through the pain of Covid, are looking to move away from the over-commercialization and commodification associated with our ‘make, use, throw away’ culture,” said Tupper. “People are looking for meaning and real experiences, unique opportunities and ways to connect. Experiences must resonate and be real and not wrapped and delivered in exalted marketing discourse. Creating this takes time, effort and careful thought… it’s a “slow” process.

Cultus Artem Discovery Box.

Worship Artem


“Almost everything I create is inspired by my life journeys,” says Tupper. This includes the unique 14k rose gold cobalto calcite ring, the ‘was it at Annabel’s disco’ diamond earrings in 14k gold and sterling silver, and the ‘memento mori’ ring, inspired by Victorian hair jewelry, roadside memorials, and other expressions of loss and death.

The ingredients used in Cultus Artem’s fragrances, meanwhile, “are collected and processed using traditional, often time-consuming techniques such as wild crafts (collecting plant material by hand from the wild) and biodynamic agriculture up to enfleurage and steam distillation, ”says Tupper. , who created products with “the highest quality ingredients, exacting standards and science. I’m proud of how we haven’t… surrendered to convenience.

Scents include earthy, smoky and creamy Vetiveria, a blend of coconut pulp, Virginia cedarwood, Chinese orris root, Australian sandalwood, Tunisian orange blossom and orange blossom. fossilized Himalayan amber, which was designed to evoke the scent of an Indonesian village at dusk.

Another favorite is Poeticus, “a heavy floral narcotic mixed with spice, tobacco and human sweat”, which contains clary amber, Egyptian cumin, Indian sambac jasmine, myrrh, butter and buds. black currant, among other ingredients.

Each bottle is custom designed to “be an object of beauty” and all fragrances are bottled in the United States.


The 14 karat cobalto calcite rose gold ring is priced at US $ 2,700. The “Was it at Annabel’s disco” diamond earrings cost US $ 2,640. The “memento mori” ring costs US $ 2,950.

A 50ml bottle of Vetiveria costs US $ 565 and an 8.5ml bottle costs US $ 245. A 50ml bottle of Poeticus costs US $ 580; an 8.5ml bottle costs US $ 255. Perfume samples cost US $ 15.

All orders are delivered free of charge from the Cultus Artem website. The fragrances are exclusively available at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.

Holly Tupper, Founder of Cultus Artem.

Worship Artem


The ingredients for Cultus Artem “come from multigenerational family-owned manufacturing companies whose mission is to support their producers,” says Tupper. “The provenance of the materials is vital… because it guarantees purity and captures the true essence, resulting in fragrance formulas that have a traceable origin, brighter spirit, rare tenacity and resonance. ”

The fragrances are free from parabens, phthalates, coloring additives and synthetic dyes; are cruelty-free; and are controlled by an in-house chemist.

The San Antonio headquarters in the 1920s was redeveloped to accommodate the lab, warehouse, and design studios.

“The studio fosters the artistic spirit of the business with a unique setting comprised of salvaged artwork, antiques and reused ‘finds’,” says Tupper. “The fragrances are formulated in the company’s laboratory; the brand embodies the principles of preserving craftsmanship and, instead of being mass produced, manufactures as needed.

“Cultus Artem’s philosophy is based on what we can control when it comes to waste mitigation,” she adds. “We take a thoughtful approach and believe that the small steps add up… We reuse, recycle and wash instead of throwing away. In the laboratory, we do not use disposable plastics but only sterilizable glass and metal. We multitask on our packaging: instead of having separate use boxes just for perfume etc, our boxes have been designed without marking or labeling so that they can be used in all our ranges of products.

Above all, Cultus Artem has removed the unnecessary carbon footprint by doing every manufacturing step in-house and distributing directly from its website. “Contract fillers require a huge minimum order quantity and by performing this function in-house we have significantly reduced the potential for storage and wastage, not to mention all the back and forth between outside facilities. ”Says Tupper.


“I was so focused on bringing perfume and skin care to the market that I had put my jewelry on the back shelf,” Tupper said. “In addition, I am working with our chemist to develop a facial serum and oil to complement our body products in the Hydration Elixir collection, and we aim to complete development and testing by fall.”

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