The world of fragrances and aromas can be tremendously vast and maybe even a little intimidating to navigate at first. But when it clicks, and you find your own perfect go-to aroma, you can never go back!
For the month of May, we are chatting with the darling Rashi Thakker, co-founder of House of Aroma, about what it’s like being an entrepreneur in the fragrance business, how the right scents can make our lives better, and what goes behind creating the perfect aroma, among other things!
Hi Rashi! Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Rashi, I am the co-founder of House of Aroma. I recently graduated from Warwick Business School with an MBA. I stayed in the UK for a year. Before that, I worked at the Estée Lauder Companies in the marketing department.
Tell us about your brand- House of Aroma.
We started House of Aroma to spread awareness about the benefits of essential oils. Many people use essential oils, but the market is still very niche. After receiving a phenomenal response, we built our product range with fragrance oils, scented candles, aroma diffusers, and pillow mists. Our fragrances range from traditional blends like lemongrass, lavender and Mysore sandal -to more contemporary ones such as oceanic scents and tropical fruits; catering to different kinds of preferences. All our products come in premium packaging at very affordable prices!
How was House of Aroma born?
My father runs a 60-year-old family business that manufactures industrial flavours and fragrances. Since my childhood days, I have always been fascinated by the work he did. I would go to his lab, create my own fragrances, call it ‘Rashi’ and distribute it in the office! At Estée Lauder, I learnt a lot about brand building. I always knew I wanted to start a brand of my own but working at Estée Lauder gave me the skills I needed. After Estée Lauder and before moving to the UK, I worked with my father for a year. That reignited my love for fragrances. My father and I then decided to start this company together. He brings in the technical know-how and I bring in my knowledge of marketing and brand building.
How have you set House of Aroma apart from other fragrance companies?
I think the first point that sets us apart is our quality. The complaint most consumers have from scented candles or diffusers is that the fragrances do not last or are not strong enough. House of Aroma’s fragrances are all very long-lasting, invigorating, and they spread positivity in the surroundings. Our aim is to delight our consumers. What we essentially promote is a lifestyle- our products connect scents to emotions.
What would you say is House of Aroma’s USP?
We put in a lot of research into studying how each of our ingredients affects the emotions and moods of our users. In addition to amazing quality, we also ensure the products look aesthetic and further the feel-good factor. Our products promote holistic well-being. Considering all this, our products are also much more affordable than other brands. We want to encourage more people to try our brand and allow the fragrances to touch their mind, body and soul. “Scents and Emotions” is our motto!
How would you describe the Indian consumer interest in fragrances and oils?
I think the market is definitely picking up. I have seen a marked increase in the use of say, scented candles. Scented candles have been very popular in the western markets but nowadays, more and more people are using them here too. Not all Indian brands fulfil the promise of long-lasting fragrances and I think that has left a gap in the market. There are good quality brands too, like Forest Essentials, but their products are obviously for users with higher spending power. That’s why we offer these experiences in all price ranges for people to explore.
From a job in the beauty industry and an MBA to running your own fragrance company- what are some lessons that you carried forward into your entrepreneurship journey and what are some ideas you ditched?
Working as a corporate, the one thing you get used to is having tight structures and guidelines in everything you do. That’s definitely something I had to ditch once I started House of Aroma. In fact, everything I learnt through my job roles and the MBA sort of ties in- but I think what is different now, is the experience of doing it all by myself. For instance, the importance of product quality and consumer service was emphasized in B-school textbooks and also something I assured Estée Lauder consumers. At House of Aroma too, we take the quality of our products very seriously. Thus now being able to scrutinise the process and quality myself is something I really enjoy.
How is it like partnering with your father for this brand?
It’s perfect. Even though he is my father, we really see each other as true partners. There is a lot I learn from my father, and he too is more than happy to explore the innovation I bring in. He is well versed with the upcoming ways of doing business but sometimes he does have questions about things like digital marketing and the emerging importance of Instagram! He looks after the manufacturing and I look after marketing, deliveries, and customer service. Deciding on new products and their look and feel is something we do together.
Can you walk us through the process that goes behind conceiving a new scent, from start to finish?
We start with research on fragrances and how well certain fragrances contribute to the feel-good factor. Then we create blends based on various consumer needs such as good sleep, stress relief, or instant rejuvenation. The blends are then processed based on the given product. The products are packaged and shipped based on House of Aroma guidelines. We ensure our packaging is such that our products can be used not only for one’s own mind, body, and soul but also as decor pieces and gifts!
What is your favourite House of Aroma product? And, how would your signature ‘Rashi’ fragrance smell like?
My father and many of our customers love the ocean-scented soy wax candle. It lasts 48 hours! I personally love the tropical fruits scented candle. If ‘Rashi’ was a fragrance, it would definitely be something sweet and fruity. A combination of vanilla and rose maybe.
Which notes do you think are seemingly underrated but are really strong in the ‘feel-good’ factor?
The feel-good factor for fragrances is more about the right blend. Maybe blends like orange mandarin or green tea (especially for candles and diffusers). Amber and honey, and orange and jasmine, are also some underrated blends. Even oud and earthy scents are great but rare in candles and diffusers. We are, in fact, looking to add them in our segment in the future. Not many Indian brands offer this.
Now, the long-standing debate- candles or diffusers? Which one do you gravitate more towards and why?
Candles for sure. They are easy to use, the fragrance lasts longer, and they make are great for home decor and gifting too!
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur in this niche fragrance industry?
I love taking my own decisions, nurturing a brand myself, and watching it grow. The fragrance industry is one such creative field where, with the right knowledge, one can come up with unexpected creations!
Tell us something fun about being a perfumer!
Well, sometimes I leave office smelling like an eclectic mix of different fragrances!
What about your brand makes you most proud?
How far we’ve come and what we’ve built. What more, we have also recently launched an all-organic, 100% natural range of products. By expanding our range in the organic segment, we are aiming to contribute to sustainability.
What have you envisioned for the future of your brand?
To reach a global scale and become a brand name people would recognise and love to associate with. We have a good digital presence but soon we aim to expand offline as well. We are also looking to come up with more innovations in the organic range. It has been very well appreciated by our customers.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
It’s okay to make mistakes but it’s important to learn from them. That is really the key to success I think. And it’s what I have learnt through my corporate jobs, MBA and even my brand- that at times we might be scared of making mistakes but it’s okay as long as you learn from it.
Visit House of Aroma Shop
on House of Sasha.