Chavalia Mwamba is a mainly self-taught Fragrance Designer who has a unique approach to the way perfumery notes are played on the skin. Using phthalate-free aroma materials, she is able to put many who are cautious of what goes onto their body at ease. The journeys and melodies created from her ideas evoke pleasant and almost euphoric memories – just as a great Fragrance should.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
As a former really bad allergy sufferer, I began having asthma-like reactions and coughing spells whenever my husband and I used plug-ins and certain mainstream scented sprays. We both love our home to smell nice and inviting, so this was very frustrating to not be able to use what we’d been using for years.
During this time, I spoke with countless other individuals who complained of similar symptoms, and a lot it them had deemed themselves “allergic” to perfume and fragrance! I am an avid researcher, so once it was determined these products could no longer be used in our home, I began researching various ingredients in popular scent options and found that phthalates were a commonality because of their ability to extend the smell of a fragrance.
I registered to take perfumery courses to get some professional knowledge under my belt, even though in the typical perfumery world, it takes years of studying under a master perfumer. I didn’t have the ability to do so at that time being an elementary music teacher, so I used any spare time I had to read about everything fragrance. I bought sample materials to use to start trial blending as a newlywed in 2008 and launched my first Eau de Parfum in 2011!
Tell us about your business.
PM Fragrances is a micro-batch, niche company that creates phthalate-free perfumes for men and women, home and vehicle fragrance sprays and aromatherapy essential oil diffuser blends. I work with discerning individuals as well as high-profile clients who seek bespoke perfume services.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I occasionally run mini-contests by partnering with other brands, so stay tuned because I have a couple underway!
2013 Sniffapalooza Sniffa Spring Fling NYC Indie Brand Presenter.
Where is your business based? Although my collection is sold online only right now, I work from my home studio in Longview, Texas.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I legally protected my name through DBA first and then my name and logo as a registered trademark. I also attended SBA classes to get help on what to prioritize in PM.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
I absolutely love joint ventures. I firmly believe there is strength in numbers and collaboration, and the most effective way of raising brand awareness for me has been to partner with bloggers, stylists and even other beauty brands to conduct giveaways and contests.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Securing cost-effective, eco-luxe packaging for upscale retail stores and connecting with buyers. I’ve also had challenges with finding small business funding that doesn’t require a six-figure yearly business profit.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I am still in the process of finding the right company to work with on my final retail packaging and am still seeking ways to gain access to small business capital. Until then, I will continue to use my current packaging and the funding I currently have (in the form of my own capital and profits made from sales and paid projects).
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I read a lot, so in order to stay motivated, I often read stories of successful business owners, or I take a “brain break” by going outside and enjoying nature.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I am approachable and accessible. There is no mystery regarding who the perfumer is for PM Fragrances. When I receive emails or messages, I am the one who responds and not an assistant. I like being able to converse with those who reach out because at the end of the day, those who support my brand and products are considered members of the PM family and culture; not just a customer.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Own your gift with confidence with what you currently have, and all of the how’s will take care of themselves. (Thanks, Mom)
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to partner with a competitor! Each of you has something unique to bring to the table. Collaborate on a cause that you both can support and create something together. There’s so much division between brands that it’s refreshing to see companies and small brands come together.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I really appreciate automation because I don’t always remember to post on certain days or at certain times because life intervenes. I actually use my iPhone calendar to help me with business reminders and to keep track of what my month ahead looks like.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I recently came across an article about how Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) has a mastermind (who happens to be his ex-wife) behind his continuously evolving brand! It was a wonderful story of how when he thought he was too big/muscular to get movie roles, she helped him own his size and market himself just the way he was. That article held a lot of revelation for me and my business.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m currently being schooled on breaking into a high-end retailer niche in the fragrance industry (that is my idea). I can’t reveal too many details right now, but I am learning about the hierarchy and important relationships in the retail sector.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
To obtain UPC codes for all products – I am pacing myself financially to take care of them in groups.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
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