His/Her fragrance empire started after Coachella festival

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A mum of-two has revealed how she built a perfume empire from her garage after being inspired by an exotic scent she came across on the dancefloor at Coachella.

Raquel Bouris, 27, from Cronulla in Sydney’s south-east told FEMAIL she was introduced to a woman at the 2017 festival who ‘smelled amazing’.

‘She was just wearing a cheap fragrance oil from India – when I got home I couldn’t find it locally so ended up buying 40 bottles wholesale,’ she laughed. 

Raquel Bouris, 27, from Cronulla in Sydney's south-east launched her perfume business in 2018 after she was inspired by a visit to Coachella

Raquel Bouris, 27, from Cronulla in Sydney’s south-east launched her perfume business in 2018 after she was inspired by a visit to Coachella

It has been a busy four years for Raquel who worked full time for the first two years as she built her business and also started a family - having two children with partner Adam, pictured

It has been a busy four years for Raquel who worked full time for the first two years as she built her business and also started a family – having two children with partner Adam, pictured

After realising it appealed to almost everyone Raquel decided she wanted to see if she could bottle the scent as a perfume rather than an oil.  

But creating an exact match was impossible owing to the complex nature of the fragrance.

Far from disheartened the young woman kept working with her perfumer, and they came up with His/Her a scent she ‘absolutely fell in love with’ – despite being completely different to the smell that had inspired her.

This perfume which combines traditional masculine and feminine notes became the flagship scent for her very own company, ‘Who is Elijah?’.  

His/Her was launched in October 2018 – it took three months to sell the first 150 bottles.

But Raquel had faith in her fragrance and had already poured $20,000 into the company so was determined to make it work.

‘I realised it would be very hard to sell a perfume based on a photograph and a very small social media following,’ she said.

Raquel now works full time for herself and sells 3500 bottles of perfume each week

Raquel now works full time for herself and sells 3500 bottles of perfume each week

What are Raquel’s top-three tips to starting your own business? 

1 – Don’t wait until everything is perfect – When I started the only thing that was perfect was the scent. The bottle’s aesthetics definitely weren’t and neither was the packaging – I hand stamped each box! 

2 – Ask for help and advice – but don’t be afraid to pick and choose from what’s offered

3 – Triple whatever you think you need for your budget – I didn’t pay myself for two years because I poured everything back into the business 

Source Raquel Bouris, Who is Elijah? founder 

‘But I wanted to make it work, so I poured all of my spare time into the business – ever lunchbreak and hours before and after work.’

The growth of the business was slow, Raquel still had to work full-time to support herself.

She and her partner Adam had also decided to start a family after she started the business and now have a three-year-old and newborn.

This meant she also had to factor in her ability to support her family. 

Raquel's trip to Coachella, pictured at the 2017 festival with now husband Adam, inspired her leap into the perfume market

Raquel’s trip to Coachella, pictured at the 2017 festival with now husband Adam, inspired her leap into the perfume market

Raquel, pictured here with Adam, became inspired after smelling an'amazing' oil at the festival

Raquel, pictured here with Adam, became inspired after smelling an ‘amazing’ oil at the festival

In 2020 when the world locked down in response to the Corona virus Raquel approached David Jones to stock her perfume.

‘They hadn’t had a new fragrance in a long time and decided to stock it in some of their best stores without even smelling it – because they loved the look and loved that it was fully Australian,’ she said.

Since then the business has grown much more quickly, in July 2020 Raquel was able to leave her fulltime job to focus on her brand.

After two years of pouring everything into the business for two she was also able to pay herself. 

In the second half of 2021 the brand exploded after it was taken on by Adore Beauty – now she and her husband both work full time in the business and are on better salaries than their previous jobs.

Raquel is pictured here with her daughter who was born on Christmas Day in 2021 and says raising a family and business at the same time meant she had to sacrifice sleep

Raquel is pictured here with her daughter who was born on Christmas Day in 2021 and says raising a family and business at the same time meant she had to sacrifice sleep

Raquel is thrilled with how her business is growing after she poured so much time and energy into it

Raquel is thrilled with how her business is growing after she poured so much time and energy into it

‘It has not been easy, we made lots of sacrifices – mostly sleep and missing out on events if I had given myself a tough deadline,’ she said.

‘We had help from our family with our son and also put him in daycare.’

Being stocked in David Jones in 2020 was the mum’s first ‘pinch me moment’ the second was when she realised Adore Beauty would be making weekly $30,000 orders.

‘They just love the perfumes and so do their customers,’ she said.

The company now sells more than 3500 bottles per week and have five perfumes in the range.

‘At first I just reinvested everything, I poured money into marketing, good packaging and in developing other scents.’

His/Her remains the best seller but the recent addition ‘Nomad’ is fast becoming a favourite.

Raquel's husband gave up his full time job and now works in the business - both are earning more than they were at their last jobs and are building a financially secure future

Raquel’s husband gave up his full time job and now works in the business – both are earning more than they were at their last jobs and are building a financially secure future

Raquel and her husband also sell to the US – but because perfume is classified as a dangerous good it is difficult to ship.

So they are heading to the states – where it all began – to set up a local operation.

Despite never being able to capture the original scent of the oil she fell in love with in Coachella Raquel is far from disappointed.

‘I fell in love with His/Her and so did a lot of other people – we sold one tonne of it last year – so I believe everything happens for a reason.’

The perfumes are all unisex – Raquel says they have been described as ‘the most stealable’ fragrance on the market.

‘Wives will bring it home and then their husbands will use it like it is their own.’

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