Growing up, everyone around me knew that the best time to approach me or give me a hug was when they came right out of the shower. If not, I would perceive all parts of your body, no matter what you did to hide the smell. It was like a superpower. My chemoreceptors are highly sensitive. Then, I didn’t know it was the call to perfumery, the God of fragrance was actually preparing my nose for the journey ahead.
It was both a gift and a burden because even if my family members knew how to make sure everywhere smelled nice, I still had to deal with other people and go to places with varying levels of hygiene.
Fast forward to 2011, I was a teacher at my neighborhood school. Each day, I felt so uncomfortable with the smell of the entire classroom whenever the kids came back from playtime. Even though I wore heavy floral perfumes, it couldn’t dominate the scent of my environment. So one day I was discussing with a friend and colleague about how depressing it was to deal with the same smell every day and it started affecting my work because I couldn’t freely hug the kids I loved so much and I couldn’t also help them to smell good in order for all of us to be happy.
So I decided to do something about the situation. From my salary, I would shop for perfumes for them at “Park ‘n’ Shop store” and spray little quantities around them, especially during playtime. The happiness on their faces was everything. They showed off their new smell confidently to their friends at the playground and they carried the stories home and I became “madam perfume”. Regardless of how I looked or what I wore, you can be sure to find me smelling so good, feeling confident and fabulous.
By the end of 2011, one of my colleagues introduced me to Attars since she knew how much I loved fragrances. I instantly knew I had encountered magic. I spent my entire salary purchasing attars and during the weekends, I went to the nearby malls distributing it free of charge in smaller vials for people to experience the same joy and happiness I felt. I just wanted to share the happiness with the world.
I was still working at the school while doing this. At some point I got a promotion and had a lot of extra time on my hands. I was no longer directly taking care of the kids but I still encountered them in larger spaces.
The habit of smelling good became part of them even when I wasn’t physically present. With spare time on my hands. I proceeded to take my new found love (attars or oils) to the world starting from my laptop on the OLX platform and several other ecommerce platforms including Konga.
Before I knew it, random people started calling in to know about my perfumes. They were intrigued by the product descriptions because I poured out exactly how I felt whilst wearing the fragrances.
From 5 clients, I grew to hundreds of customers’ requests and the main journey began. Previously, I didn’t see myself as someone who was temperamentally fit to run a business. Oh, don’t mind the big grammar. It just means I didn’t really believe in myself and in the fact that I could be a business owner one day. Even though I studied Business Management at the University of Nigeria and had also taken some entrepreneurial courses, I still couldn’t stop feeling like I wasn’t ready to delve into business.
My husband encouraged me to focus on pursuing perfumery and I dived in with all my energy. I started with synthetics and skin-safe oils. Then we expanded into making our own range of body sprays and Edps formulas. Today, I am certified in natural perfumery (this was a very long and intense journey but totally worth it). We also proceeded to work with some brands to bring their fragrance dreams to life. We started supplying our fragrances and fragrance packaging in big quantities to individuals and some cosmetic brands that were particular about the quality of fragrance materials they use in production.
Now upon moving to the island – which I didn’t see coming at all – the business experienced a new set of challenges.
One major challenge I had was with logistics. I couldn’t even attend to the needs of one-tenth of my clients. I had to pause, and in fact, I shut down operations in our warehouse for months and went on my knees to God, praying earnestly for direction.
I even considered leaving the Island because the challenges were just so much. One day I attended an event organized by the Ra lady’s association event and some soul-touching words from my sister Ijeoma Ukandu and Mrs. Judith Asogwa bounced a side of me back to life.
You can never underestimate the power of words. Instantly, I wanted everyone in the room to experience what I have and share. I saw that life on the Island was doable, I knew that my location shouldn’t make me dormant or feel too disadvantaged to achieve all I set my heart to. Something was ignited in me and my fragrance journey kicked off again.
During the bonding exercise, I told one of the ladies in the session about my oils and she was skeptical at first. I was a terrible marketer. I could barely talk about my oils, I believed so much in the experience and allowed the experience to do all the talking because fragrances affect our senses differently and I wanted each person to own their personal experience and not mine.
I can still remember the lady and to date, she remains one of our very loyal clients. She spread the news about our fragrances and in no time, we started getting more requests and the spread continued.
Not long after, we resumed operations and we found a way around logistics, started using DHL, Travellers, Logistics partners in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja for client deliveries. Our Port Harcourt warehouse kicked off fully. We also created a retail arm where individuals and families can experience new fragrances together via several packages which you can view on our Instagram page @majesticroobee and website.
Over time, we created formidable partnerships with factories for our formulas, packaging materials and general production and that was how Majesticroobee started the journey to being a household name, and the rest they say is history.
What spurred you into venturing into entrepreneurship?
I didn’t set out to become an entrepreneur. Remember I was a career professional at the time the revelation of attars hit me. I only wanted to share the extraordinary feeling fragrances gave me, with others. I didn’t set out to sell, I only wanted people to experience the joy I felt.
Also, I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. However, I am surrounded by a family of courageous people, especially my dad who fearlessly pursues anything he wants without looking back, my mum is the prayer warrior and chief adviser, my husband is the one with a mega-intelligent brain and my sister is ever so supportive. Besides this strong support system, I had no entrepreneurial experience to rely on but I can tell you, this was all I needed to move and I dared to move with all I had.
What’s your vision for Majesticroobee?
Our vision is to make Majesticroobee a global household name in the heart of fragrance users. Beyond smelling good, we want to inspire confidence, catalyze new experiences and to do this, we capture sensations, tell stories and create fragrances that promote wellbeing and happiness.
With the magnitude of things, you’ve highlighted one would think Majesticroobee has been a near-perfect journey. We would like to know about your startup days and how you managed to stay sustainable.
The key things that helped Majesticroobee to continuously build sustainability have been holding strong to my business values, a huge focus on creating value, listening to direct client needs, embracing change and commitment to excelling in a specific area of my field.
Running a business in Nigeria is not a walk in the park. Now talk more, of when you live on an island. My biggest issue as a startup was acceptance. I had lots of people who asked me “who do you think will buy your perfumes?”, “Have they finished buying the ones in supermarkets?” Did I cry? Yes! Did it bother me? Yes! In fact, I had some sleepless nights but all of that only strengthened my resolve to pursue this with all I had.
It took people quite a while to get the hang of the fact that “oh she’s a perfumer”, haha. Most people didn’t know that studying perfumery was actually a thing. Creating constant awareness about our products on social media has made it a bit easier. We also had to do a lot of training for our team members to help them understand the sensitive nature of the perfume business and gradually, we conquered each challenge as they came.
Now let’s come back to the real deal: PERFUMES
So we wish to know, what are your ideologies about PERFUMES/PERFUMERY?
Perfume is a powerful communication and action force. With your fragrance, you can influence how you people think, feel and act when they are around you. Perfumes are all about emotions. Perfumery itself is both an art and a science. The science is in formulating lovely combinations and bringing the fragrances to life and that can be learned, yes. However, if you’re not an artistic person, it would be difficult for you to curate fragrances that massively sell out. This is why you see some perfumers like Jo Malone curating scents that keep you coming back to her brand.
I am certain that perfumes come In different fragrances and styles, may we know your niche perfume and why?
Yes, you’re right. Choosing a perfume can be overwhelming with all of the scents available. Not only are there countless scents available, but there are also different fragrance concentrations. Underneath the name of the perfume on a bottle will normally be the fragrance concentration. A fragrance concentration refers to the strength that a fragrance has. Perfumes with a higher fragrance concentration contain more perfume oils and less alcohol. Fragrance concentrations are broken into categories including perfume (extraits), Eau de perfume, eau de toilette, and eau de cologne.
In Majesticroobee we focus on the perfume oils and body sprays with lasting strength of an EDT, custom blends and private labeling.
Having stated the above, what are the characteristics of an excellent perfume?
An excellent perfume must have depth, must be in harmony with the personality of the wearer and leave a trail that clearly conveys the message the wearer intends to communicate.
As a perfume dealer, what has been your highest success point so far?
Our highest success point so far has been the fact that we have been able to help over 200 people realize their dreams of becoming perfume business owners in Nigeria and beyond. The fact that we have raised the confidence of over 4000 customers, sharing happiness through our fragrances is my greatest joy. No amount of money can buy that feeling.
Do you have outlets or are you strictly online? If yes, where are your locations?
We started strictly online, we’re still actively online on our social media handles and website, but now we have an outlet in Portharcourt, 64. Okporo Road Port Harcourt. We also have a major distributor in Lagos, Enugu and other states in Nigeria.
Understanding the world of business and its complications, hint us about your business values!
Our main business values are integrity, excellent customer service, diligence, continuous improvement and development of our team members.
What major milestones should we be looking out for in the nearest future?
With the perfume trends in the world right now, consumers are getting more aware and inquisitive about the contents of their perfume bottles. People are becoming more conscious and gearing towards individualized niche natural perfumes and we’re so excited that Majesticroobee will soon have a sister brand that is geared towards serving this need. We will announce this soon.
Also, in the nearest future, by God’s grace, we will soon commence our bespoke scented events where we can help you create beautiful memories with your friends and family on special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, tea parties, baby showers, and intimate events.
Your olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus in the brain. That’s why the smell of what you create on your anniversary party, for example, immediately triggers a detailed memory or even intense emotion in the hearts of your loved ones. Perfumes are that powerful. We want to give you the power to curate your own beautiful memories together with your loved ones.
What is your strategy for your Corporate Social Responsibility? Taking Bonny as a case study.
We created THE SCENTED LIFE OUTREACH which is a bi-annual event, targeted to reach at least one hundred young women starting from Bonny Island. The goal is to create awareness about living a scented life, which goes beyond the application of perfumes. The scented life is all about elevated confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, self-acceptance, love and understanding that even God wants us to live a fragrant life. This is how your sweet aura can be felt in the life of everyone you come across but it has to start with you as an individual.
This awareness will help them to place a priority on themselves, their hygiene, their attitude and their thinking thus resulting in a fully fragranced life. This is how people leave trails of positivity in society. We’re partnering with botanic soap formulators and also curating an exclusive EDT for each of the one hundred ladies during this outreach.
What has been your challenge pushing your brand forward? Understanding our economic situations today.
Just like any other business, one of the major threats that you are likely going to face is an economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. It is a fact that the economic downturn affects purchasing power. However, we keep creating packages that cushion the effects of these changes.
What are those interesting facts about you that your customers/clientele do not know?
Oh! the fact that I hide Agbalumo and local pear in my freezer so I can eat it all year long. Shamefully, I don’t even want to share it with anyone.
What advice would you give to budding female perfume entrepreneurs?
The greatest thing that any woman can do is to truly believe in herself and what she does. It is the strength of women that puts us in a much better position to excel in most businesses we set our hands to do. Do not be afraid to stand out, stand up for what you want, and follow your intuition. Surround yourself with supportive and practical people who understand where you’re going. Never compromise on excellence. In all, perfumery is a very rewarding field and I cannot wait to see more females delve into this field.
Wow! Truth be told, you’re really knowledgeable about your chosen career, I’m impressed and highly motivated, no wonder Majesticroobee is growing beyond bounds.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, you spoke from in depth knowledge. I see a conglomerate emerging from Majesticroobee!