Mental healthcare has been a buzzword in recent years.
Tapping on this trend, Jason Lee wanted to create products that support mental health, such as scents and aromas that soothe the mind. This was what led the then-30-year-old to start up Scent By SIX in July 2016.
“Certain ingredients have been proven to affect moods, which in turn, can have a positive effect on our mental wellness,” he highlights. “Our newer collections such as Hikaru, Sleep, Returns and the Care Range are infused with scent technology, which influence positive moods in the user.”
These make use of the infusion of fragrance intelligence, which is basically a cocktail of scent notes that are scientifically proven to affect the moods of the wearer. For example, the yuzu-based scent in their Hikaru collection helps in uplifting spirits.
Besides championing fragrances for mental well-being, Jason also wanted to create his own line of fragrances that encapsulated memories of his travel destinations with his wife.
When it comes to starting up a business, Jason has learnt many lessons. Prior to this business venture, he dealt with solar film for cars — a business that eventually failed. “I lost a lot of money to my former business partner”, he laments.
However, that didn’t stop Jason from getting back up on his feet and diving into the entrepreneurial world again.
Having worked at Swiss fragrant house Givaudan as a management associate, he was able to “access crucial aspects of the multi-faceted fragrance industry”, which proved useful when he started Scent By SIX.
He made use of his expertise and knowledge to develop a range of personal fragrances and home fragrances such as reed diffusers, nebulisers, pillow mists and scent sprays that make use of aroma essence.
Their best-selling signature scent is the 27ºF Biei, which is used with the Desktop Nebulizer to scent up a space.
Jason stressed that Scent By SIX has a huge sustainability focus, and they strive to source their ingredients responsibly. They work with suppliers of ingredients such as Givaudan, Takasago and Firmenich, which are all accredited.
In fact, Scent By SIX is the first local brand to utilise upcycled ingredients in their fragrances. Some of these ingredients include floral petals, leftovers of fruit essence, wood pulps and wood dusts.
“We will be unveiling the sustainability targets to achieve over the years to come and are working with CleanHub to minimise our plastic footprint”, Jason posits.
When Scent By SIX had their very first pop-up at the Red Dot Design Museum in September 2016, he recalls that the response was overwhelming, with their fragrances being sold out on the very first night.
From that humble pop-up store, Scent by SIX has since expanded to four outlets islandwide, located at 313@Somerset, Bugis Junction, Jem mall and VivoCity.
Jason shared that he invested S$250,000 of his own money to kickstart the business, and eventually broke even after three years. “[W]e are still self-funded, with a stable year-on-year growth. Our revenue has consistently doubled [every] year”, he adds.
Today, Scent By SIX offers a range of products, including customisation services for hotels, gyms and offices.
Some notable collaborations include the creation of the world’s first traditional Chinese medicine perfume – Hush – with Eu Yan Sang as part of their 140th anniversary, as well as the creation of Singapore Airlines’ signature scent, the Batik Flora.
In 2017, Scent By SIX also launched a series of “Scent Experience” workshops for customers to observe the work that goes behind the scenes when creating a perfume. Customers also get to bring home a 10ml bottle of their own personal creation.
Starting up wasn’t an easy task, especially when Jason had to put up a one-man show to run the business. “I had to prioritise our limited resources and to spend and invest prudently to grow the business”, he recalls.
He adds that it was a challenge to stay adaptable and pivot during the pandemic. To address those challenges, he made the effort to build a team made up of engaged and motivated team players.
Observing how the work-from-home directive during that period brought upon an increase in demand for home scents, Jason quickly shifted the brand’s primary focus to home scents to cater to this market.
The pandemic also pushed Jason to reflect on what he truly wanted Scent By SIX to achieve, and that was when he realised that a bigger impact can be created for the community.
“Given the mental toll that the pandemic had on everyone, we embarked on a new brand purpose and mission for Scent By SIX — to use our scents to heal, soothe and delight one’s mental wellness”.
That was when they created the yuzu-based scent Hikaru in partnership with the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), which resulted in S$20,000 from its sales being donated. Scent By SIX also created the Awakening home diffuser collection, donating 10 per cent of the sale proceeds to the Courage Fund by Community Chest.
In addition, they collaborated with Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL) to produce the “Care range”, which comprises of Care to Focus, Care to Relax and Care to Sleep Better. These scents were developed over several months in a series of workshops involving CAL’s caregiver volunteers, who drew from their personal experiences to help formulate the products.
“As an advocate of mental wellness, I’d like to help create awareness of caregivers’ needs with this initiative. Caring for a loved one or a friend with a mental health issue demands a lot from the caregiver”, he emphasises, adding that a portion of the sales from the Care range was donated to CAL, supporting their training and support to caregivers of persons with mental health issues.
With a strong give-back mentality, it’s no surprise that Scent By SIX was conferred the Social Contribution Award, as well as the Promising Brand award, by the Singapore Prestige Brand Award (SPBA 2020/2021).
For Jason, giving back to society has become a key principle not just for Scent By SIX, but also for himself.
Besides the initiatives he has implemented to support the community through Scent By SIX’s sales, Jason also volunteers in the community during his free time by conducting free scent workshops for the less fortunate.
He shares about one encounter with an old lady that truly impacted him. Suffering from dementia, she was constantly in a bad mood. Upon understanding that her favourite foods were pandan cake and kopi o kosong, and that she used to visit the temple on Sundays to offer incense for her late husband, Jason whipped up all these ingredients together into a scent for her.
The moment she took a whiff of it, she started tearing and blurted out the name of her deceased husband, which led to a tearful and touching moment for her and her family.
“It was then that I realised why I was doing all these work, a purpose in life. A scent goes beyond smelling good, it can preserve memories, heal emotions and bring people together. Scent By SIX embodies this by continuing this work for the less fortunate and marginalised in our society,” he sums up.
Featured image credit: Scent By SIX
Also read: This S’pore home-based biz owner invested $50K to open outlet, sells curry bombs and mooncakes
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