Entrepreneur

For RM50/Month, These Sisters’ Startup Lets You Easily Buy & Try Designer Perfumes

For many of us, buying perfumes is an experience.

We would usually go to a store and smell different types of scents, then try it on our bodies to see which fits us best. 

With such a physical presence required when shopping for fragrances, how do you overcome this as an online perfume subscription service?

Sadira, who co-founded Scentses + Co with her sister Sabreena, explained that they provide sufficient information and a brief personality profile for every perfume listed on their site.

This perfume for example, is masculine and magnetic with notes of coriander, basil and grapefruit as its top scents / Image Credit: Scentses + Co

It’s Like Dating Without Commitment

Scentses + Co is the first fragrance subscription service in Malaysia.

It’s targetted to those interested in trying out different designer perfumes without the commitment. 

Subscribers can choose any designer perfume listed on their website and get it delivered in an 8ml atomiser bottle.

3 sprays daily can last up to a month of use for each bottle.

This solves the problem of spending a few hundred ringgit on 50ml designer perfumes which may never get finished in the first place.

Hence, the subscription model eliminates the commitment customers have to put in when buying full bottles of perfume.

What’s worse is if they realise that they didn’t actually like the perfume, which I imagine might happen with gifts. 

Sadira joked, “Think of the idea as dating perfumes before marrying them!” 

Outsourcing Was Not An Option

Right off the bat, the sisters prioritised building credibility and trust among their customers towards their business.

That meant making a profit came secondary, as it wasn’t about pushing the products, but pleasing their customers.

In return, subscribers would send positive reviews and messages of appreciation. 

This is what they credit as the source of their strength during difficult times.

“Every day, we print out each of their feedback and have them stick on our ‘Wall of Gratitude’ to keep us continuously working harder,” she said.

The sisters deal with their subscribers on a personal level / Image Credit: Scentses + Co

When they first started though, it was no walk in the park. The business was fraught with many challenges.

Because nothing was outsourced, everything from web development, UI and UX, to designing their packaging were done by the sisters. 

“We had to grow and learn fast everyday, not to mention issues such as system glitches, scepticism from customers and naysayers from the online community,” said Sadira.

They used these challenges as fuel to propel the business forward. 

Lots of time was spent on hard skills like learning IT codes from scratch and soft skills in communication to build relationships with customers.

“With grit and patience, we focus on making things right one step at a time. ‘All one can do is the next right thing’—it’s our favourite quote from Anna in Frozen 2!” she said.

Entrepreneurs Since Childhood

This drive and passion is what you get out of founders who’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug as school children.

Sadira’s entrepreneurial journey started with an online blogshop at 16. There, she found her strength in B2C e-commerce.

She also ran a tech startup called Readpublic, which was a book comparison app.

Funded by Cradle Fund, it went on to win several awards including 2nd place in Entrepreneur Organisation’s (EO) Global Student Entrepreneur Awards that was held in Frankfurt, Germany.

Sabreena’s entrepreneurial journey also began during her school days. 

Despite the hectic schedule as a Chemical Engineering undergrad, she spends her free time dropshipping. Sadira said that this helps her sister equip herself with marketing skills.

With the strong entrepreneurial streak imbued in us, we are always identifying problems to solve. It feels very fulfilling as we are very fortunate to discover our own entrepreneurial calling and match our lives to it.

Sadira, co-founder of Scentses + Co.

Building A Perfume Wardrobe

Launched in June 2020, Scentses + Co already have over 600 active and inactive subscribers.  

They have a community of over 1,000 members of fragrance enthusiasts who are looking for perfume knowledge and recommendations. 

“Scentennials”, is what the duo call their members.

Scentses + Co. currently has 2 subscription plans: 

  • LITE, priced at RM49.90/month with unlimited selection up to 170+ designer perfumes
  • LUXE, priced at RM59.90/month with unlimited access to 30+ perfumes with more premium brands.

“In total, we have a selection of more than 200 designer perfumes for our subscribers to discover as their Scent of the Month, SOTM,” Sadira shared.

The platform also introduces up to 10 new perfumes bi-monthly to expand their selection for subscribers.

The perfumes are packaged in sleek mini atomisers that are small enough to fit in your pocket / Image Credit: Scentses + Co

The idea of only ever receiving tiny bottles of perfumes means less wastage for each fragrant. 

However, it may cause more environmental waste if subscribers are throwing the bottles out every time they finish them. 

Sadira pointed out that she has thought about this.

They already have plans to allow subscribers to mail their empty glass atomisers back in exchange for rewards.

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I did a bit of Googling to see how the price of Scentses + Co’s subscription plan measures up to just buying a whole bottle of perfume.

An example of a designer perfume (8ml) you could get in their LITE plan (RM49.90/month) is Dolce & Gabbana’s 3 L’IMPERATRICE Eau de Toilette, which retails at Sephora for RM340.67.

Doing the maths, 1ml of the perfume would then cost about RM3.40. 8ml would cost about RM27.

On the other hand, an example of a premium fragrance from the LUXE plan (RM59.90/month) would be Dior’s Miss Dior, which retails for RM620 for a 100ml bottle.

This means that 8ml of it costs about RM49.

If you’re really particular about pricing, then it might be more worthwhile to purchase the original fragrances.

However, the prices listed above do not take into consideration the delivery fees when buying online.

Hence, despite its pricing plans, Scentses + Co does offer a few attractive advantages for fragrance lovers:

  • The power of choice, which can be changed monthly,
  • Access to perfumes that may not be easily bought in Malaysia (in physical or online stores),
  • The international delivery fee on the fragrances is absorbed, and there is no shipping fee across West and East Malaysia for Scentses + Co.

These alone would be able to justify its plans, especially if you take smelling fragrant seriously.

  • You can learn more about Scentses + Co here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Sadira and Sabrina, co-founders of Scentses + Co

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