Artisan jewellery that becomes “your own personal diffuser” when combined with essential oils and blends has just launched in the UK. Somerset-based Perfino lets fragrance lovers enjoy scents without having to put any chemicals on their skin.
The brand’s first product, a natural scent pendant, will officially launch into the UK in November, just in time for Christmas shoppers seeking gifts for lovers of luxury jewellery and natural fragrances.
A third of us are intolerant to synthetic chemicals, and up to 60% of the chemicals we put onto our skin are absorbed into the bloodstream, making the use of commercial perfumes a gamble for many.
Consumers, particularly those in the UK, are also increasingly moving towards more natural products. But Perfino founder Kim Brookes says she was far from home when she came to the realisation that another way to enjoy natural fragrances might be possible.
“As a perfume blender and lifelong fragrance obsessive, I was quickly drawn to market stalls full of natural, essential oils when travelling in Cochin, India”, recalls Brookes. “It then struck me as bizarre that the only way people could enjoy fragrances was by applying an undisclosed chemical concoction with unknown effects.”
The Perfino natural scent pendant, Brookes’ launch product, is made from recycled silver designed by artisans. It comes with six super-absorbent lava stones and a bottle of blended natural essential oils. “Simply put a stone into the pendant, add a drop of oil and enjoy a wonderful fragrance all day long”, she explains.
Brookes, who was recently featured in the BBC’s CEO Secrets and Radio 4 Business Matters, hopes to offer a natural and unique alternative to the UK’s estimated 33.8 million women, more than half of whom wear perfume.
She is currently using a Virgin Startup loan to meet Perfino’s current orders and preparing the launch of a Perfino club where fragrance lovers can subscribe and receive monthly oils and seasonal blends.
At an estimated $310bn, the combined global jewellery and perfume market is huge. Procter and Gamble bought the D2C natural deodorant brand Native for $100m just three years after it
started, for example. And novelty fine jeweller, Pandora, generated £2.5bn of revenue in 2019 alone.
But Brookes argues that the perfume sector is also slow-moving and resistant to change, with giants tending to buy out innovative new brands once they are established, rather than seeking to innovate. “The industry is being held back by self-regulation and a lack of transparency when it comes to their ingredients, which is a big put off for consumers who are increasingly demanding natural alternatives”, she says.
With no significant competitors, Brookes believes that Perfino can disrupt both jewellery and perfume markets. While jewellery can only be bought once, Perfino is able to receive recurring revenues from customers looking to buy new scents in order to combine with their pendant.
Longtime entrepreneur, Brookes, first seeded her love of fragrance during a summer holiday in the south of France as a student. However, she made a career in international corporate finance, working in Hong Kong and other countries. After returning to England to dedicate her time to being a housewife and mother, Brookes’ entrepreneurial spirit resurfaced.
She co-developed the online gift registry, What I’d Love, which was designed to save waste in gift giving by allowing people to make gift lists for events like birthdays, baby showers and leaving dos. This free service continues to thrive and is now the leading site for those hoping to buy baby gifts for expectant parents.
Brookes seems determined to continue her sustainability credentials during her work with Perfino. She says she is exploring new compostable and biodegradable materials with another UK company in order to send oil blend samples to customers so they can try before they buy.
As a former entrepreneur in residence at the University of the West of England, Brookes helped students to advance their business ideas. In 2017 she set up a business incubator for graduates, which has now supported over 80 high-tech, high-growth start-ups.