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M’sians like smelling sweet, as proven by this startup’s 6-figure revenue in 3 months

My mum is a perfume fanatic, and I remember moments of my childhood where I’d follow her into perfume stores in malls and airports to test scents.

The choices available to her were largely Western brands that released seasonal scents like spring, summer, and winter ones. Of course, the big names were DIOR, Chanel, Gucci, etc. When you think of perfume brands, it’s likely your mind would bring up those names too.

This dominance in the perfumery world was something that Haziq and Samir also noticed. Local brands weren’t trying to compete with these larger ones either, preferring to reformulate and repackage the same scents to be sold cheaper.

The duo realised that, going into perfumery, they wanted to make a name for themselves. They wanted to create a line of perfumes that were timeless and didn’t fall within seasonal categorisations.

But what exactly could they create? For the answer, they leveraged their love of desserts.

Bringing in the experts

One can make a simple perfume from scratch at home, but Haziq and Samir had larger ambitions for Pastry Perfumes. They were trying to make perfumes that smelled like popular pastries, and they needed the right facilities and people.

Thankfully, Samir is a third-gen business owner of Jamal Kazura Aromatics, an 88-year-old perfumery house in Singapore. It was built in Malaya, back when Singapore and Malaysia were still one, and has a strong network spanning across Asia and the Middle East today.

Partnering with the perfumery house was what helped Pastry Perfumes hit the ground running. But after securing the facilities, they still lacked someone with expertise in creating pastries.

So in came Chef Fazley Yaakob, who had completed his superior pastry studies at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Those familiar with the Malaysian entertainment scene may also know him as a musician and actor, and as the first-season winner of MasterChef Celebrity Malaysia.

Haziq (left) and Samir, and the Berry Brûlée fragrance / Image Credit: Pastry Perfumes

Gourmand perfumes aren’t new in the perfumery world, but it’s a very niche concept that still hadn’t made its way into this corner of the globe.

After a discussion, the trio decided it was time that changed. Before officially establishing Pastry Perfumes, they released their first scent, Strawberry Vanilla Cupcake, to test market demand, and it sold out in 3 weeks.

Following that indication of interest, they made the brand official and released 2 more perfumes: Berry Brûlée, and Lemon Meringue. Today, these are the 3 main scents offered.

More than just putting ingredients together

I’m used to scents that are floral, fruity, or smoky, but I can’t easily wrap my head around how one can create a scent that mimics a pastry in a 30ml bottle.

Haziq and Samir broke down their R&D process for me. First, they determine which pastry scent they want to create based on customer feedback, or what their team has identified is exciting based on market trends.

Next comes the brainstorming to identify the perfume’s notes. These notes are different scent layers that make up the final fragrance.

They can be split into 3 distinct elements: top notes, middle notes, and base notes. Each element denotes which scents can be sensed with respect to the time after the application of a perfume.

The right ingredients and measurements are the recipe for success / Image Credit: Pastry Perfumes

With the notes identified, they then need to decide the proportion of each ingredient to make up the perfume oil.

Haziq and Samir shared, “The challenge here is that we are trying to create a fine fragrance, not having people smelling literally like an actual pastry.”

“For example, we can’t just take the literal ingredients of a berry brûlée to make the perfume: vanilla + berry + sugar. We have to think of many complex and even subtle notes that will enhance a certain scent while softening others.”

Needless to say, rigorous testing is done to achieve that fine balance. After multiple variations of a pastry scent are made, they go through an elimination process.

Perfume experts in the team determine which ones maintain the quality of a fine fragrance, Chef Fazley evaluates the notes based on his pastry experience, and lastly, feedback from existing and prospective customers ensures that they’re putting out a perfume that’s actually desired.

“The scoring metrics we look at involve what smells closest to the pastry and what smells the best to our customers, meaning that they would want to wear it on themselves,” the duo shared.

Not testers, but “tasters”

Shop Pastry Perfumes’ fragrances on VP Label at an exclusive price now:

The majority of Pastry Perfumes’ customers are ladies between their early 20s to late 30s, and the brand has seen a sales growth rate of 25% month-over-month. In 3 months, the bootstrapped company reached a 6-figure revenue.

But getting to this point wasn’t a simple process. Typically, one makes a perfume purchase after smelling testers in-store, but the pandemic made that impossible. How then was Pastry Perfumes suppose to convince customers, especially since it was a new brand with an unfamiliar product concept?

Haziq and Samir first emphasised the visuals of their products. For example, a perfume listing on their site would have pictures of the ingredients used as well as the pastry it represents. This way, prospective customers could imagine the fragrance easier.

The turning point that increased their sales, however, was the release of their Taster set. With it, customers are able to enjoy the 3 perfumes in 2.5ml travel-friendly vials.

The Taster set / Image Credit: Pastry Perfumes

“This is how most of our new customers usually make their first purchase, and eventually come back to purchase their favourite perfume in a 30ml size,” Haziq and Samir shared.

Thanks to their direct-to-consumer model, they’ve received more than just positive feedback. Some customers have asked them if they could turn the fragrances into lotions, lip balms, and even body washes.

Though the brand is just shy of a year old, Haziq and Samir are already keen on expanding their product range into the fragrance-based personal care space, as requested by customers.

  • You can learn more about Pastry Perfumes here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Pastry Perfumes

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