Welcome to Harris-Williams and our first EVER blog post. I’ll admit it’s pretty daunting sitting down to write this. We are just days away from our first show and our unofficial ‘launch’, the website is now live, the house/office is chaotic but everything is starting to take shape.
The initial idea – “I want a reed diffuser that smells fresh, that doesn’t hum of alcohol or is overly sweet” (nb/ I love alcohol and sweeties, I just don’t want my home to smell of them 24/7), came about when I was searching for an affordable, quality diffuser. There are plenty of fabulous smelling diffusers on the market from established, covetable brands but just slightly above the ‘affordable luxury’ cost I’d wanted to pay. I’d definitely buy one of their diffusers as a beautiful present but not necessarily one for myself – bah humbug. Could we make one, using the same kind of superior ingredients as those brands for less? After a few months of research and testing we found that yes, we could, but only because we don’t have their overheads. After all it’s just us, we’re the only engine power here.
To get to this point has taken nearly twelve months and it’s been a fairly steep learning curve in many respects, especially with regards to fragrances and packaging. For instance, I didn’t know when we started out that most citrus scents are regarded as top notes. Top notes form the first impression of a fragrance but often dissipate more quickly and it’s the base and middle notes that linger longer. Professional perfumers are not called ‘the nose’ for nothing.
We visited packaging and other trade shows to source potential suppliers and ideas. I have had some experience of this (I have a marketing background) but dealing with potential suppliers when you work for a huge company is very different to being a small unknown brand started at the kitchen table. We experienced delayed responses or in some cases radio silence awaiting quotes as their minimum order quantities were just too high for us. Whilst we absolutely understand this it didn’t make it any less frustrating. That said, we’ve found some great suppliers who are happy to deal with a start up business.
We had a very definite idea of what we wanted style wise and were determined to get the exact grey/green shade, I could picture it but not express it very well (too green – looks like wellingtons…..too grey, no green in it all, etcetera). It took time to get it ‘just’ right from screen to print. We spent a lot of cash at the local printers getting copies of our box design until they said “STOP, we can’t take any more of your money – you are going to get different results each time from a digital print”. Lesson learned – show me the Pantone colour book.
The best bits have been testing and blending the fragrances, the house has often smelt like a perfumery, and developing the look and feel of the brand. It has sometimes been challenging. We had our custom reeds sourced from Indonesia go AWOL (they had to be just the right width and length to ensure optimum fragrance throw – we tested many, many reeds to know this…….), tracked down eventually. With the exception of the product photographs, we have sourced, blended, poured, tied (so many ribbons…), packaged product and designed and produced the website/social media platforms ourselves.
The process of setting up our own business has been obstacle ridden, complex and totally absorbing, yet utterly fantastic. It’s an exciting time for us, we love and believe in our products and hope you do too.
We will have a stall at the Moira Canal Festival on 27/28 May, if you’re local please come along and meet us, see and smell our fragrances and give us some feedback.
Anne & Dave