Elevator Pitch: Perfume Playground, the business creating scents for brands
We gave Samantha Copland a little longer than an elevator ride to pitch Perfume Playground, a fragrance company that focuses on creating scents for brands, people and places using natural ingredients.
Every entrepreneur knows that once a key aspect of their brand becomes recognisable to the public, they’re on the route to success. Cosmetics brand Lush, for example, is a brand with such a distinct smell, it separates itself from its competitors.
Like Lush, Perfume Playground founder Samantha Copland believes her fragrance company could also be a unique contender in the market. For most people, the sole purpose of purchasing perfume is to smell nice. For Perfume Playground, it’s those who share a passion for a scent’s ability to inspire, connect and enhance a business’ performance.
“Evidence-led, our design philosophy is creating scent for more beauty, performance and wellbeing,” Copland says.
“Our scents achieve long lasting performance, celebrating botanicals from the Asia-Pacific, flower essences and the latest cannabis-science.”
The birth of her fragrance company came after Copland’s “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to India, where she purchased the stock of a shops glass perfume bottles and had them shipped back to New Zealand.
In 2015, Copland began experimenting in her Ponsonby home and since then has accumulated 800 club members and designed scent for fifty brands, people or places.
“Over the course of six months I self-studied 25 perfume notes, under the written guidance of the Mandy Aftel perfumery kit. I analysed the dry down of each scent every 15 minutes or so, determining the volatility of each fragrance.
“My first paying customer was my flatmate Dr. Cat Stone, owner of The Face Place. I started to believe in a fragrant future when she absolutely loved her natural perfume.”
Leaving her tools and workbench behind, Copland then left her garage space and rented a cell block at Studio One, Toi tu. Although perfect for business and acquiring several customers, shortly the space became incapable for covering costs. Copland’s next destination was Sydney, where she studied flower essences. After a six week period of exploration, Copland changed her business model to group teaching and began the Perfume Playground Club.
“I launched the club as part of Auckland Artweek. Hosting 11 people, that first club was one of the biggest thrills of my life.”
Brand alignment with clients was what significantly set Perfume Playground on a growth trajectory. Copland created unique scents for clients including the Auckland Art Gallery, Lululemon Athletica and Chartwell Shopping Centre, and also received exposure through Viva and RadioNZ. She explains that finding the best scent to suit a brand or occasion comes from deeply understanding the customers and their brand values.
“Pairing the understanding with knowledge of the natural world, we’re able to turn this into fragrance that works beyond the aroma.”
Copland’s love for fragrance began within her first role after university at CS company (now known as Trilogy) where she worked in the fragrance division and started her fragrance wardrobe. Copland then moved to sales and marketing roles where she specialised in event management and business development.
“This background, along with my BSc in Pharmacology and Psychology, and an obsession with optimising human potential and travelling the world led me to found Perfume Playground.”
As the health-conscious trend continues to grow, so does the demand for eco-friendly products free from chemicals. Copland took these factors into consideration when creating her company, and as a result, has ventured into the untapped product segment of natural perfumes.
“I was given Mandy Aftel’s book Essence and Alchemy when I was 19. Without knowing it then, I believe this was the earliest inspiration. I was inspired by the farm to table movement, slow living and sustainability.”
Creating such a unique company is bound to bring challenges. Copland’s difficulties included “complexity” and “starting from nothing.” Perfume Playground was her priority over her social life, and working hours became extreme.
“Navigating how to set things up without a steady revenue stream were tiresome and laboursome. I also invested too much time onboarding contracting staff, focusing on building a team rather than focusing on sales.”
Copland found that her biggest challenge with the company was launching in Australia, as Perfume Playground was just starting to gain traction in New Zealand.
“Giving up financial security to be a 0 to 1 again was big risk in a new market,” she says.
Looking forward, Copland is excited to continue to build her consumer brand Perfume Playground Club in Australia. She will also be hosting her event Synesthesia as part of Melbourne’s design week in March.
Copland has previously held Synesthesia as part of Auckland Art week with Heart of the City and Panuku Holdings which drew massive success. The event had 100 people attend, who were able to expand their minds with a tour of colour and scent and learn more about the influence that fragrance can have.
“We have recently moved into scent marketing, scenting commercial spaces, beauty products and amenities. We’re also excited to continue to build our consumer brand Perfume Playground Club in Australia, hosting Synesthesia as part of Melbourne design week in March.”
In the future Copland hopes to take her company to the Asia-Pacific and beyond, with the focus being to educate people about the importance of scent and its health benefits.
“We envision a world where everyone feels their best – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Chemical toxins have destructive implications for people and the planet, so we’d love for more businesses and families to shift to using safe, natural fragrance products.”