Every fragrance enthusiast has been there — spending hundreds of dollars on bottles of perfumes just to have them sitting on your vanity shrouded in dust.
22-year-old Christian Kwok is one of them. Having just returned from an overseas trip, he went on a shopping spree at airport’s duty-free store, where he bought several new bottles of perfumes despite having 30 other bottles at home. Some of them have even been untouched for years.
That’s when he recalled the business idea his friend Elaine Yuan proposed to him back in 2021 — a perfume subscription service.
Joining hands with 23-year-old-Elaine, the duo established I’VRE, offering over 150 designer fragrances for their customers to choose from without breaking their banks.
Users can select up to three atomisers — with brands ranging from the likes of Gucci, Dior and Jo Malone — starting from as low as S$16.95 monthly.
These selections are not fixed, and users can update their monthly selections via I’VRE’s website at no extra cost.
In addition, the monthly subscription plans do not have a fixed commitment period. Customers are able to change, pause and cancel their subscriptions anytime.
This is because of the company’s commitment to reduce waste, explained Christian. “We want our customers to only buy what they need.”
To further prevent wastage, I’VRE’s atomisers are fixed at 8ml, which is estimated to last around a full month for the average user. The design of these atomisers was also carefully thought out — their sleek and pocket-friendly design would allow I’VRE’s customers to carry and use their favourite scents anywhere.
This is pretty convenient for users to reapply when they’re out and about, considering the fact that fragrances usually wear out after a certain amount of time. A multitude of factors can cause this which include one’s skin and the fragrance itself — and no one wants to lug along their huge perfume bottles everywhere they go.
In line with its sustainability goals, I’VRE is currently exploring ways to reuse and recycle the atomisers that its customers receive monthly. Christian commented that while this has been a goal of I’VRE’s from the start, although technical limitations have made it difficult to implement.
The inception of I’VRE was not an easy journey for both Christian and Elaine. The duo first met through a mutual friend, and worked as recruitment consultants before deciding to jump into this business venture.
Faced with skepticism from their own family members in the early days, the young entrepreneurs were frequently advised to pursue full-time jobs instead of starting up a business.
Despite their own families doubting them, the entrepreneurs pushed on with I’VRE, and invested a mid five-figure sum into the business. The bulk of it was from their personal savings, though they also received some financial support from their respective families.
“We only had one thought in mind — if we did not try, we’d die regretting,” said Christian, who is not a first-time entrepreneur.
Prior to I’VRE, he started up a fashion e-commerce platform at age 14, which made four figures in revenue before it shortly came crashing down.
The company was launched on October 31 last year. Not anticipating much traction, I’VRE had only stocked up moderately on its products.
However, against all odds, the company sold out all 160 of its boxes within just three weeks.
But this wasn’t the time to celebrate — selling out all its products also meant that Christian and Elaine had to scramble for more stock to meet customers’ demand. On top of this, the customised nature of I’VRE’s products made it harder for the business to get replacements in time.
Our product consists of various components and we have to work with multiple suppliers simultaneously, which presented coordination challenges, especially when some of them were based overseas.– Christian Kwok, co-founder of I’VRE
Our product consists of various components and we have to work with multiple suppliers simultaneously, which presented coordination challenges, especially when some of them were based overseas.
At this point of time, both Christian and Elaine were at a crossroad. “We faced a difficult decision — it was either stop selling or obtain generic atomisers for our scents,” Christian said.
Putting the quality of its products at the forefront, I’VRE made the difficult decision to shut its doors for nearly three weeks, before relaunching again on December 10 last year with a refreshed look.
I’VRE has yet to break even, but the company is now fast on track to achieve profitability by the second quarter of 2023.
A crucial part of I’VRE’s business growth can be attributed to TikTok.
Headed by Elaine, the company knew from the start that it had to leverage social media as part of its marketing strategy, and it wanted to tap on the reach and user base of TikTok.
TikTok has a unique algorithm that allows for a piece of content to go viral and in our case, we had two videos that blew up with over 100,000 views each.– Christian Kwok, co-founder of I’VRE
TikTok has a unique algorithm that allows for a piece of content to go viral and in our case, we had two videos that blew up with over 100,000 views each.
As of writing, I’VRE’s most popular TikTok video has garnered over 186,000 views.
By constantly putting up content that would appeal to perfume enthusiasts and even for those who are just getting started out, TikTok has allowed the scent subscription service to bolster its online presence, consequently leading to an increase in its sales.
In the long run, I’VRE sees TikTok as a significant component to its marketing strategy, and it plans to put out more content in line with its message as well as leverage current trends for more exposure.
According to the founders, I’VRE is planning to enter the Indonesian market this year.
The primary driver for this expansion is because Christian and Elaine both believe that Indonesia presents a significant opportunity for the company’s business model.
Furthermore, Christian’s maternal family resides in Indonesia, and he feels a strong connection to the country.
I’VRE also plans to expand its scents catalogue and add a minimum of 25 new fragrances monthly to its current offerings. This month, it has added 36 scents to its lineup.
Ultimately, we hope to have over 500 fragrances in our catalogue. We are looking at introducing more niche and unique fragrances in the future.– Christian Kwok, co-founder of I’VRE
Ultimately, we hope to have over 500 fragrances in our catalogue. We are looking at introducing more niche and unique fragrances in the future.
At the end of the day, I’VRE aims to allow consumers in Singapore to discover more unique and niche scents. As the fragrance industry is centralised around a limited amount of fragrances, I’VRE hopes that its extensive catalogue of scents will entice Singaporeans to find scents that are a better fit for them.
Featured Image Credit: I’VRE
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