BASED IN: NEW YORK
What do you do?
We create Custom or "Bespoke" fragrances for men and women, and offer innovative, Custom Fragrance 'experiences' for Corporations, Teambuilding programs, Bridal Showers, Bachelorette Parties, Perfume Parties, Holiday Events and for all occasions where everyone learns about the magic and mystery of fragrance, and creates their OWN unique scent. They 'name' their Custom Scent and can reorder it any time as we store their formula in our database! It's fun, educational, informative and 'scentertaining™'”
What is your background?
I have always been involved in the Arts and was a singer and actress from South Africa. I came to New York and was captivated by the cosmetics industry and my career took a new trajectory, and I am honored to say I have been involved in the development of iconic fragrance brands for such companies as Tiffany, Burberry, Lancôme, Trish McEvoy, Avon, Lancaster, Diane Von Furstenberg and many others.. How did it help you get to where you are today? The fact that I love art, music, and all the 'sensory' aspects gave me a greater understanding of how to incorporate those aspects into the fragrances I ultimately created. Our Sense of Smell is our most important and powerful Sense, after Sight, and I am very aware of how important it is to createfragrances that represent the beauty and magnificence of our most important Sense, rather than another 'me-too' commercial scent. I am also Adjunct Professor of Fragance at LIM COLLEGE and always tell my students to expand their horizons and go to art galleries, museums, fashion events, concerts and to avail themselves of the wonderful cultural activities that are offered.
When did you realize you wanted to be self-employed? Did you take your time in taking the step or did you just go for it?
I have always been an entrepreneur and even when I was in the corporate arena, I found that I was always looking to implementand develop innovative strategies, so it was a natural transition for me to go into my own business after.
What has been the most exciting moment as a business owner?
That I am the architect of all aspects of fragrance development in just the same way as a conductor of an orchestra! Every nuance and detail comes under my direction - so there is a consistency and understanding of how all aspects work in harmony with each other. I love being involved in every single aspect of product and brand development as a CEO of my own company I am responsible for the strengths as well as the weaknesses.
Do you come from a family of people who are self-employed? How did this affect your career/business so far?
My mother, Grace Phillips, was an amazingly talented artist and calligrapher - www.2marvelous4words.com and I get my creativity from her. My dad was a self-made businessman and I was definitely influenced by his entrepreneurial spirit!
Your business is both a service and a product.
Yes, the service and product we offer is 'experiential'' - We offer Custom Fragrances for clients as well as a service to make them feel confident. There is nothing better than to be greeted with "You smell wonderful, what are you wearing"?
Can you tell us a little about how you structured it and why?
We are all about customer service and at our perfumery in New York we schedule clients by appointment at The Scentarium, to give them a personalized, intimate experience. We take them on a "fragrance journey" and they learn about the magic and mystery of fragrance. It is educational and fun. If people can't come to NY they can purchase our Perfume Kit which is an 'experience in a box". We also offer our Fragrance Bars for large groups so that many people can enjoy a unique event at either a Corporate Event, Teambuilding program, Bridal Showers and Perfume parties.. We are also expanding our reach by recruiting people who would like to be in their own businesses and to offer unique offerings to clients.
What big names / celebrities did you work with?
It was so exciting getting a call from Jamie Foxx's people who said he wanted to come in and create a Custom Scent. He was wonderful and very interested in the process and created a wonderful unique Custom Scent. How did that help you with your business? Jamie told his friends and we then got a call from Katie Holmes who came in and created a fragrance for her and Suri. It's a great reinforcement that celebrities who can get anything they want, recognize that creating something totally unique and personal is more compelling than buying something that everyone else has.
As an entrepreneur you have to wear many hats. Which two components of a business are the most important?
They are all important and necessary. Being under funded is a huge problem, and having a strong brand image is very important as it propels a business to the next level. I always say "ATTENTION TO DETAIL" is critical and as an entrepreneur it is incumbent to ensure that everything is under control. Time management is also important so that all aspects are given equal attention!!
How important was having an outstanding network? Is there such things as “doing it alone”?
As an entrepreneur you always try and engage people who love what you do and who will be there to support and help. It's challenging when one doesn't have a strong network - so it's important to always be positive and motivate people. Social media is a great way to build a strong network.
Are you planning to expand your services? How?
Yes, we are looking to expand and open more perfumeries, develop more kits, and also develop more products that can be sold online as well.
Do you belong to any entrepreneur organizations? Is it important? Why?
I network with a lot of entrepreneur and women's organizations as I believe it is important to be involved with like-minded people. Also, it is a great way of learning from others as to their successes and mistakes. I find that organizations are willing to help others in similar circumstances and I love to hear about other people's goals and achievements.
What is the most important thing to consider before going on your own?
Sometimes one just dives right in because of one's passion! But then reality sets in! So, my advice would be have passion, but also to have a plan. Develop a 3 - 5 year plan so that it gives you a blueprint and a guideline to follow and to be proactive and be accountable to yourself!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Hmm good question. I would say, speak to as many people as you can and build and nurture relationships so that when you need to ask advice, it will be forthcoming.
Do you think that anyone can start their own business? Would you encourage them to try at least once in their life?
I think starting one's own business is like being a trapeze artist - you can fly and soar to great heights but must have a safety net! There are some people who are not cut out to be entrepreneurs as they prefer to be in a safe environment. If you just take a job for the paycheck and financial security, and you don’t have satisfaction or joy, it will eventually wear you down. However, if you are truly passionate about something you believe in, I would say go for it and in the interim you will bring so much joy to others and the financial rewards will come.