The Entrepreneur’s Corner – My Scents-ible Fragrances

We recently caught up with Hugo, founder and owner of an online beauty, fragrance and cosmetics retail store.  After completing an MSc in information systems technology, Hugo started a cosmetics and fragrance business. Hugo’s business started as an SME but has grown into a company that currently trades across Europe, Asia and the Americas and has attracted the interest of major vendors in retail cosmetics services. In today’s Entrepreneur’s Corner, Hugo shares how he transformed an idea into a business. He also gives advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to delve into the business world.

Aspiring Professionals Hub: Please can you tell us about your educational and professional background?

I am an MSc graduate in Networks and Systems Security from the University of Kent and a BSc graduate in Computing systems from the University of Northampton. I have extensive experience in systems architecture and security, network design and specification, programming and telephone and mobile computing and technology. I now provide IT solutions and services for major organisations as part of a large organisational network in the South of England.

What was the inspiration behind Just you business?

My mum was the biggest inspiration and the drive behind the business. As a child, I always liked perfumes; not just the scent, but the psychological effects and the structural design of perfume bottles. I remember my efforts as a young boy to create what I presumed would be the ‘perfect scent’ spending all my hard earned pocket money on fragrance oil…sadly it ended badly. However, I refused to be discouraged, my passion remained and now I can proudly say that I not only create great perfumes but I am also able  to recreate scents that are unique and appeal to a knowledgeable clientele too.

How important has social media and networking been to your business?

I would say it has been very important to my business. As an online retail store, the core of the business is driven by online traffic. The impact and contribution of social media is immeasurable as new products and special offers are driven and publicised using this platform.  I also find it gives my customers a feeling of clones and direct association with the business especially a business that caters for personal items like perfume and beauty products.

What are the challenges, if any, you face?

Starting out in any business can be a challenge especially having an understanding of the type of products and all the paper work that might be required, for example,  legal documentation. In this type of business there are some specific challenges such as trying to gauge or anticipate customers’ tastes. I also found gaining access to the best suppliers in the market another challenge as atimes some of these suppliers work directly with other competitors in the market hence finding these suppliers and building a good working relationship with them is important. And the other thing, pricing!! Knowing what sort of pricing strategies and what the best prices in the market are, especially prices that beat the bigger competitors in the market.

Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?

This is an interesting question. One mistake I can clearly remember is underestimating the size of the market and the amount of capital needed to get the business starting out and running effectively. Two key lessons I learnt in this business are: knowing when to stock certain products and at the right seasons as this can prevent non-performance of some products and loss of capital. The second lesson is also very important: conducting regular market research and running regular product performance analysis.

Who are your business role models, if any?

I never had any role models in the business world. I just had my interest and I followed it really.

Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Think of what you love and genuinely have an interest in and go for it not what you think will make you money. Except if you are not planning on investing much of your time in the business.

Contact details

For more details on the online fragrance store, purchasing your own specially scented perfumes or creating your own business, contact Hugo on  +44 (0)  7821441313

#CareerChat – What does it mean to be globally relevant?

2-globalA few weeks ago, I (Emmanuel) was called upon at the 11th hour by the organisers of an international student conference to replace one of their scheduled speakers. I only had a few hours to prepare to give a talk around their theme of ‘Personal and professional development for global relevance’ (Thanks Amara!) I couldn’t help but ask myself this question “What exactly does it mean to be globally relevant on a personal level?”

As a lecturer and researcher, I was forced to ask myself some questions. Are today’s courses and degrees designed with a “global eye”? Are students being prepared for a global world? How do I know if I am globally relevant? What does it take to be globally relevant? With all these questions in my mind, I chose a title (same as above), which was just as much self-reflection as it was my seminar talk. I will share a few points from my nth hour prepared slides but I am also really curious for your opinion on this topic.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a definition for global relevance. I stumbled on a definition of Global Relevance by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as “the required characteristic of an International Standard that can be used or implemented as broadly as possible by affected industries and other stakeholders around the world.” I have made some modifications to this definition to “The required characteristic of an individual that can be applied as broadly as possible by affected (knowing, rational, studied, responsible…) individuals, groups and other stakeholders around the world.”

Now armed this this definition, I pose a question to you as I did at the talk – Would you consider yourself to be globally relevant? Global relevance is as much an end point as it is a journey. Without knowledge of where you are journeying to, you can go on a long, unending drive until you run out of fuel. For those seeking global relevance in an area of specialism or interest e.g. sports, academic, technology, writing etc. without knowing what the end goal is might lead you into that long winding path of confusion. Perhaps it is time to look at your personal GPS and reassess your journey (hopefully your GPS is not like my old one which kept telling me GO LEFT at every turn…binned.com)

So how can we find that relevance globally?

Begin with the end in mind – This is our mantra on the Aspiring Professional’s hub. In your field of study, area of business interest or chosen career, is there anyone, business or role model in that position you aspire to be in worldwide? Knowing something about the journey to their attainment or achievement could be a starting guide for you to start a plan for your own global attainment. These days it is not so hard to learn about global figures when you have Google and in most cases these global stars are on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or have personal websites.

Have a plan – of your own for that career, design, business or idea BUT with a global audience in mind. For example, if you are choosing a course at University, think broadly about how relevant that course is another country or even worldwide before deciding. If creating a business plan, can that business service a need in another town, state, country, continent beyond your current location? So we suggest in whatever your goals or targets, THINK GLOBALLY.

With every good plan and desire come challenges, so Research, Research, Research. This is usually where most plans fail as the LACK OF KNOWLEDGE leads to death of the idea or what was once a great plan.

Understand your USP or Brand – in the business and marketing worlds, the terms USP (unique selling point) and brands come to mind. Understanding what your skills, attributes or ability (USP) or what your brand is in the context of your audience or the people who might need, understand or want those skills are is very important. As Paul Stafford, Co-founder of DesignStudio says “a brand will always be able to transcend barriers if audiences believe and connect with the message.”

Furthermore, whilst understanding personal attributes remains important, sharing and having a community to help you contextualise and develop your ideas is just as important if not more so it is important to Network. Remember, you are not the only one in the world with the ground-breaking or crazy idea so having a platform to harness that attribute or idea with a receptive or critical audience would do you no harm.

Finally, self-evaluation is important. With constant evaluation, you can assess whether you, your ideas or plans are progressing or whether it is stale and needs change or a revamp. Whilst preparing this talk, I came across The Success Indicator Poster by Mary Ellen Tribby, which differentiates, successful from unsuccessful people. This can be your motivational tool to start that global journey.

We would like to say thank you to all our readers. We are humbled at how far reaching our articles have ‘travelled’ and we think it is fair to say we are indeed finding our feet within those murky waters of global relevance. Please share your thoughts on this article by leaving a comment, we learn so much from them! If you have an article to share, please email us @ info@aspiringprofessionalshub.com.

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