Welcome back to our Founder Stories series, where we sit with inspiring and influential women to dive into their entrepreneurial journey and discuss all things business (and wellness). Today, we speak with Almira Armstrong, the founder of luxury candle and fragrance brand LUMIRA.
Almira’s most powerful memories are punctuated by olfactory glimpses and aromatic snapshots. “It started when I was two or three years old and playing with Mum’s perfume bottles – she was obsessed with YSL’s Paris and Opium,” Armstrong recalls of the two heady scents that would leave an indelible impression on her young mind.
Annual family holidays in Europe – a world away from Armstrong’s home in Australia – were marked by “the sweet, earthy aroma of the mountains, as we drove the winding roads towards Italy. The scent of the ocean always brings back memories of family, good food and the warmth of the sun on my skin.”
After earning a Master’s degree in marketing and embarking on a successful career that took her to London, New York and Los Angeles, Armstrong returned to her first love – fragrance – founding LUMIRA in 2012. She dabbled in candle-making while at university but now the time seemed right to realise her dream of creating a niche fragrance house renowned for creating “bold, unique luxury scents for the home and the body, all with a beautiful narrative behind them”.
FLAURA: What inspired you to start LUMIRA?
Almira: I have always had a passion for fragrance and scent, understanding how people create perfumes that are so identifiable and distinctly associated with their brand. However, my own passion around this really only manifested in my buying beautiful perfumes and occasionally making candles to burn at home. Post university, my life quickly became consumed with my career in PR and Marketing and travel – I spent quite a few years living and working abroad in London and New York. However, it was when I fell pregnant with my son, I had this very real desire to turn this ongoing passion around fragrance into a small business venture. My husband had visions of me selling my creations at the markets, but I formulated a business plan that took it beyond that and I really honed in on all aspects of this – from the fragrance design, to the packaging, to quality control, to price points. Each and every part of the LUMIRA brand was considered, until eventually in 2013, I took it to market.
F: What makes LUMIRA different from other brands?
A: LUMIRA fragrances can be very transportive and trigger memories with a power that none of the other senses have. Creating a LUMIRA fragrance begins with a series of inspirations – art, design, travel, poetry… these (and more) are all elements that I draw on for inspiration when developing a new fragrance. All LUMIRA products are proudly made in Australia using the finest luxury ingredients and are sustainable, so environmentally aware consumers can be sure their moments of luxury are at no cost to the planet.
F: What has the journey been like since you started?
A: We launched with four fragrances in candles. Since then, we have expanded our offering into personal fragrance and luxury objects including glass domes, scented notebooks, candle accessories and handwash and care. We also have some exciting partnerships coming up for 2021 so stay tuned!
F: How do you stay motivated?
A: I surround myself with good people, I have a very uplifting team around me. I always refer back to my ‘WHY’ and instantly it reminds me why I do what I do. I love my job and my passion for this industry and my brand keep me inspired daily!
F: What’s the most rewarding part of your day now?
A: I love seeing new fragrances come to life. It’s a long and beautiful process to create scents and so when the samples finally arrive it’s so rewarding to see and smell a physical product come to fruition.
F: What are the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur?
A: To me the most rewarding aspect is waking up everyday and knowing that I am going to do something that I love with the constant support from my clients and customers who have been with me from the beginning. One of the hardest is patience; fragrance and product development can take up to 12 months to come to market and sometimes it is hard to wait!
F: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: When the answer is no, there is always a better yes around the corner.
F: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?
A: Be prepared to work hard. Know your purpose, know your why. If you believe in it, you can make it happen so don’t give up.
Top 5 Daily Wellness Habits
- I always carry water around with me, I love to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially if I know I am drinking coffee.
- I LOVE taking hot relaxing baths, I light my LUMIRA candle and dim the lights which makes for a really calming atmosphere. I think self-care is so important especially in times like this where everything is slightly more chaotic.
- I try and walk whenever I get the chance, here in Australia the climate is beautiful and so are the landscapes, so I try and aim to always get in as many steps as possible.
- I journal when I get the time in the morning, this helps to get all my thoughts and ideas down on paper first thing before my day gets busy! We have just launched LUMIRA’S first scented journal set which I am loving – the Cuban Tobacco fragrance takes me back to some of my favourite memories.
- I love filling my plate with fresh vegetables. My days can get busy so I will always try and ensure our family dinners are filled with colours including whole nutritious foods.