What you need to know:
- Her research led her to the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute where she applied for training support, enrolling in January 2019.
A couple of years ago, Mildred Adhiambo made a living off selling refill perfumes. She would buy perfumes in bulk and then sell them in small quantities.
But after three years on the job, the business got so flooded, that there was someone selling perfume in almost every corner of town.
Figuring that her venture would soon stop making her money, she decided to focus on air fresheners.
“While selling refill perfumes, I discovered a lot regarding my customers’ wants, and was sure that the business would do well,” says Adhiambo, a teacher by profession. She knew what her customers wanted and had done lots of research regarding perfumes, but did not have the practical know-how of making them.
Her research led her to the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute where she applied for training support, enrolling in January 2019.
She was not only trained on how to balance the various chemicals used to make perfumes, she was also taught about packaging and branding, as well as how to go about marketing her product. With a capital of Sh80,000 drawn from her savings and contribution from family, she established her business, Sovenia, and in July 2020 after obtaining certification, from the Kenya Bureau of Standards, she introduced her products in the market.
She manufactures air fresheners and scented crystals for the home, washrooms, closets, shoes and cars. The products come in different scents, namely Lavender, Lemon, Strawberry and Ocean breeze. In creation of perfumes, she explains, you need olfactory (make up of the perfume) with a top note, middle note and base note. Balancing the scents requires a blend perfume extracts and ethanol. Some extracts are stronger than others.
“For instance, lemon is middle and top note, therefore you will need to find a base that will make it last longer,” she explains.
Once the ingredients are blended, they take about two weeks to mature and produce a fine fragrance, free from the alcoholic smell. “I try as much as possible to use natural plant extracts in making my line of perfumes, and to achieve this, I have partnered with a company that produces plant extracts,” she says.
After maturity, the perfumes are packed into 170ml, 236ml and 500ml bottles, which sell at Sh120, Sh250 and Sh450 respectively. Scented crystals goes for Sh100 per pack. Adhiambo has six employees, who assist her in the production and marketing of her products. Though based in Kisumu, she says that her customers are drawn from all over the country, thanks to social media, which has no barriers – she uses platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to market her air fresheners, and delivery services such as bus companies to deliver her products to various parts of the country.
Her company has an outlet in Mbita, Homa Bay County, that markets her natural scented products, which also act as mosquito repellants.
“My air fresheners are popular with the business people that sell fish, which was an eye-opener because my main target was city dwellers – fishmongers like them because they camouflage the strong smell of fish, especially omena,” she explains.
On a good month, the entrepreneur makes Sh60,000 from sale of her natural scented products.
Her biggest challenge is that the business is capital intensive, however, she is open for partners to invest in the business. In the next five years, the young entrepreneur plans to launch a new line of bathroom scents.