KUALA LUMPUR: Aien Mokhtar’s girlish love for perfumes was inspired by her mother. One of her fondest memories is during a winter they spent together in Belgrave where her mother, diplomatic officer, was posted.
It was her first ever winter, and the scent of her mother’s perfume and the chill of the snow lingered with her long after they returned to Malaysia. And even to this day, Aien, co-founder and chief perfumer of OLFAC3 Perfumes, still marvels at how her mother carries a scent so well.
“It is never too strong, and she has an ability to choose the perfect scent for her,” the 47-year-old told FMT, adding that over the years, she amassed a good collection of perfumes of unique and memorable scents.
But how exactly did this collector become a perfume maker?
It began when one of her favourite perfume brands was discontinued. “I remember thinking: ‘okay, what do I do now?’ And as I was curious to learn the process of creating perfumes, I started taking courses,” she shared, adding that this journey took her to Australia and France.
According to the avid traveller, she is inspired by people, places, and experiences. “I try to create a scent based on what I saw and smelled when I travelled.”
But it wasn’t until she met her co-founder, James Chong, in 2013 that she started entertaining the thought of turning her passion into a full-scale business. By that time, Aien had left her job in the property sector.
Over the next two years, she travelled to Greece, Turkey, France, and Spain for inspiration. And in 2016, she created her first collection for OLFAC3 Perfumes, a play on the word “olfactory”, which is related to the sense of smell.
Today, the business markets 19 exquisite perfumes. Among the best-sellers are “Matahari” and “Ombak”.
The former has a lovely fruity scent inspired by Aien’s memories of running through her great-grandfather’s fruit orchard. “Ombak” meanwhile is a delightful and refreshing blend of gardenia and jasmine. “It is my interpretation of the sea. My mother loved to take me to Port Dickson during the weekends and I have memories of the quality time I used to spend with her.”
“Ombak” she added, also bagged the “Best Fresh Fragrance of the Year” in the Her Beauty Awards 2019.
Yet another popular scent is “Aphrodite”, a pleasant blend of rose, pear, and peach. “It’s quite a versatile perfume that you can wear during the day or at night,” she shared.
In creating these perfumes, Aien first concocts a sample in her laboratory. And this takes time, she shared as her aim is to create something unique and memorable. It is only when she is satisfied with the end product that she sends it to a fragrance manufacturer for production.
“I find it better to work with a manufacturer who has the capability to produce in volumes to ensure consistency,” she said, adding that she works with manufacturers in France, Sweden, and Hong Kong.
Apart from the aforementioned 19 perfumes, there are six more in her Private Collection. However, these are only available to Golden Circle members, a programme that offers discounts and yearly gifts, among other benefits.
Aien has also created six perfumes in the “Kembali” range inspired by the sights and smells of Bali. These are exclusively for purchase in Bali, although they are available to Golden Circle members in Malaysia. Additionally, the business also offers a range of hand sanitisers scented by her perfumes.
As with any other start-up, the task of increasing brand awareness is a challenge, Aien shared. And this is where a local NGO, Persatuan Pembangunan Artisans (PPA) has helped.
PPA helps businesses to widen their distribution channel through its online platform, physical stores in the Klang Valley and various pop-up events – something Aien is grateful for.
Someday, she added, she hopes to establish the brand internationally. But in the meantime, she is having fun with it. “Work doesn’t feel like work because I am doing something that I love. That keeps me going.”
LIMITED PROMOTION! Purchase a set of 30ml + 10ml bottles of OLFAC3 Perfumes for RM238 (normal price: RM268) and receive one FREE limited edition Matahari Premium Hand Wash 50ml and one hand-crafted paper art by DH Paper Art. Promotion ends Feb 28.
To purchase OLFAC3 Perfumes, click here or visit their physical store at:
OLFAC3 Perfumes Lounge
Lot 1-13, Level 1, GMBB
2, Jalan Robertson
50150 Kuala Lumpur
Business hours: 11.00am–7.00pm (Closed on Tuesday)
Read more about PPA’s artisans here.