INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY MINI-SERIES: ALMIRA ARMSTRONG
Last but not least, Founder of Lumira Almira Armstrong set aside some time in her busy day to give us some insight into what it's like to be a female business owner and what it's like operating within the fragrance industry.
Based in Sydney, Lumira was founded in 2013, and is a niche fragrance brand drawing inspiration from specific destinations across the globe. From bustling urban environments to remote villages to luxurious resorts, each fragrance is unique and - even better - proudly made in Australia.
[TLSE] Can you tell us a little bit about the new fragrance you’re about to release?
[Almira] I wanted a scent that evoked and celebrated Australia and we have just released Terra Australia. It is a rediscovering of the unique, raw beauty of our wide-open land. The candle’s top notes are herbal, tea and berry, the mid-notes earthy, patchouli and pine on a woody, smoky base of cedarwood, fir balsam and gurjam balsam. I wanted to create a scent that takes you straight to the bush, to the outback, and brings the harmony of nature into a room. It’s more important than ever to gift ourselves moments of indulgence and I’m delighted to be able to celebrate all that is wonderful about Australia with an original scent I’m very proud of.
What made you want to start your own fragrance line?
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 was really manifested in me once I started 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, 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.
I absolutely love the process of developing a new fragrance. My perfumer and I sit together and we discuss the direction I am thinking the new fragrance will take – inspiration, key notes, overall mood of the fragrance. We then start building it out. This process can take a month, or it can take twelve months. It’s a really varied process, but it's one that is so important to the Lumira brand.
Are there any unexpected obstacles that you have faced while running your own business?
There are always going to be both benefits and drawbacks to any job, and becoming an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding, but it definitely has its stressful moments! The hard thing about being an entrepreneur is having to prioritise - I have so many things to think about on a daily basis, so organisation is key to staying afloat.
Over the years, the importance of making decisions that not only solve the challenges I face today, but also those I am likely to face in 6 or 12 months’ time. As manufacturers of luxury goods, the challenge of scaling the business to support growth, whilst maintaining strict quality standards and attention to detail is never ending!
As a female business owner, what advice do you have for overcoming adversity throughout your career?
Follow your intuition, build resilience and have the ability to preserve. I think resilience is built over time and adopting a positive outlook will help overcome any future challenges business owners might be face. 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!
It’s simple: if you are passionate about something, then you have something valuable to offer an audience. There will never be a ‘right’ time to start putting your business out there - I think women tend to sit on their ideas because they don’t feel like they are ready. Perfectionism is something we all deal with to some degree; I would advise to just begin with what you have and grow from there.
WORDS | Brittany Ross
IMAGERY | Lumira