February is the month for romance and blissful escapes. Indulge in the luxury of true perfumes made without harmful chemicals or synthetics. From the pretty pink packaging to the beautiful aromatic treasures inside, Tallulah Jane is a pure fragrance line we think every girl should experience.
1. What motivated you to start your own line?
I had always been a huge fragrance fanatic, ever since I was a young girl growing up in London and sampling the latest perfume trends in Selfridges and Harvey Nicks. As I got older though I found that I developed sensitivity to the synthetic perfumes I was accustomed to wearing, to the point that I had to stop wearing them all together. I did miss fragrance though so I started experimenting and blending essential oils for myself. I received such enthusiastic reactions from people that I decided to launch my own scents.
2. How long did it take? When was your product line ready for the general public?
Hmm, that’s a question that’s impossible to assign a definitive timeline to. I’ve had seeds of ideas that I had been playing around with for years that would eventually become one of our products so I could say it’s been 10+ years. But I didn’t start entertaining the thought of marketing my blends until the enormously positive reaction from family and friends, and friends of family that I decided to give it a go. My husband and I started to ramp up into launch mode in the spring of ‘09 and were able to release our initial line of fragrances in the fall of ‘09.
3. What obstacles did you face along the way?
Sourcing our ingredients is actually one of the most difficult aspects of producing our fragrances. The quality of many of the oils we use can vary greatly depending on producer, region, season, etc. so finding ingredients that are up to our standard can be a challenge. This is one of the reasons why I hand blend all of our recipes, if there is a slight variation in the bouquet of a particular oil I can adjust the formula so as to remain true to the original.
We also faced a tremendous hurdle in packaging production and sourcing. Especially when we first started and had much lower sales volumes, we struggled to justify the production run minimums that were thrust upon us by vendors. Otherwise, the cost for smaller runs would have a huge impact on the price point that we’ve strived to maintain.
Our solution was to bring all the production services in-house and teach ourselves how to do it. We purchased bottle printing machinery, printers, custom dies and die-cutting presses, etc. so now we print, press, convert or bind all of our sample vials, sample cards, bottles, cartons, press materials, and collateral. It’s been a lot of learning to establish our routine but it’s one way in which we’re able to mitigate our costs so that we don’t need to charge inflated prices for our products. It also allows great dexterity to accommodate co-branded material requests or micro-runs of limited edition products.
4. Who did you draw your inspiration from?
I’ve always had a big crush on Serge Lutens! Not only for the perfumes he created with Christopher Sheldrake, which are some of my all-time favorites, but also for his artistic direction, fashion imagery and branding genius. He was one of the first to really understand how fine art could have a profound influence in expanding the beauty product experience.
5. What is unique, different or special about your brand?
From the start of our endeavor we’ve meant to compete in the industry with all fragrances, synthetic and natural, so our goal was to make excellent perfumes and oils that would excel on their own without imposing our views on our clients. We are healthful, green and ethical because we feel there is no other way to be. We didn’t want to make that a requisite part of our brand but it is essential to who we are.
We’ve also succeeded in keeping our price points some of the most competitive, not only in the natural market but the general fragrance category as well. We still use only the finest and purest ingredients available, the same or better than those that are used by houses charging far higher premiums for their products.
6. Have you or your products ever won any awards?
We’ve just had the honor of being awarded Best Natural Fragrance in both the Men’s and Women’s categories by Organic Beauty Talk and are currently in the running for a FIFI award for Best Indie Perfume, fingers crossed there. We’ve also appeared on many, many Best Of lists both in print and within the blogosphere.
7. What, if anything, would you do differently if you could do it over?
I would not change a thing, really! Everything we’ve been through has been a tremendous learning experience and rising to the challenges that we’ve been faced with have made us more confident and resolute.
8. How do you feel about changes in the organic beauty movement?
We couldn’t be happier to see more companies developing new products that are healthier options for both the customer and the environment and are enthusiastic about trying and being inspired by so many amazing creations!
9. What advice would you offer other novice women entrepreneurs?
Make sure you’re doing something you love because creating a successful business is so much harder than you can anticipate. There will be times when you might question what you’re doing or whether it’s all worth it so being passionate to the point where you can’t not do it can be such a saving grace.
10. Do you think it is more difficult for women when it comes to business?
I know that many of my female friends that have tried to launch their own businesses have encountered disparate and numerous hurdles that perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue had they been male. Luckily for me, the industry in which our brand is competing has a huge number of women in position of power and who are the driving force behind so many of the products and brands that I adore so I really haven’t encountered additional challenges personally.