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The perfume start-up making a stand

Wellington-based perfume creator Frances Shoemack is taking a stand against unregulated industry giants by being transparent about what goes into her products.

It was only natural for Shoemack, who grew up on a farm and is passionate about nature, to have found one of the leading natural perfume companies in the world, Abel Odor.

What sets this perfume company apart from the others is that its products come with an ingredient list.

“There is no ingredient transparency in the perfume world. Your perfume doesn’t come with an ingredient list basically, which if you think about is pretty crazy in the scheme of things and it hides behind this world of trade secret,” Shoemack reveals.

Given that perfumes can be made up of thousands of ingredients, Abel Odor is taking a stand against this loophole because Shoemack believes consumers should know what is in their perfume.

The company also advocates for regulations in the perfume world, which Shoemack says seems to be behind the rest of the beauty industry which is increasingly turning towards “clean beauty”.

She says the perfume world is “a world of all these crazy ingredients being used and no regulation and then coupled with the fact that you don’t have to talk about it”.

Abel Odor was founded eight years ago when Shoemack was living in Amsterdam after falling in love with the market of “niche artisan perfumes”. With the name a nod to Abel Tasman, the perfume company is 100 percent transparent and uses ingredients only from plants.

Frances Shoemack.

“When I started Abel Odor you could already buy natural skincare and makeup that were very chic and sophisticated, but there was nothing like that for perfume,” she says.

Shoemack works alongside master perfumer Isaac Sinclair, the only master perfumer in the Australasia region.

Read more: Auckland-based entrepreneur reinvents the vending machine business.

She admits that at the time of creating Abel Odor, Shoemack was already on a journey that involved “eating, consuming and wearing natural products” which later transcended to include what she put on her skin.

“Personally, I didn’t want to be putting synthetics on my skin, and also from an environmental perspective I didn’t want to use ingredients that were non-biodegradable,” Shoemack says.

Later in 2020, Shoemack and her family moved back to New Zealand and Abel Odor is now run out of Wellington.

The company is in the global market, and is 80 percent export, with the US being its largest market, followed by Japan and Germany.

Abel Odor is now one of the longest running natural and transparent perfume companies in the world. Despite having around 10 competitors, Shoemack says the company is the global leader.

“They are almost all US brands which means they are all operating exclusively in the US, so I think in terms of owning our role as market leaders we have global distribution, we’re already connected to customers around the world,” she says.

The company’s perfume is stocked by leading ecommerce retailer, SSENSE, known for holding high fashion brands such as Gucci, Diesel and Alexander Wang.

Shoemack says being stocked by SSENSE was such a “buzz” and “opened new doors” for Abel Odor. “Everyone wants to be in those doors,” she adds.

Despite seeing early success such as having a large customer base worldwide, the perfume company is looking at aggressive growth plans in the next five years.

“There’s so much exciting stuff happening with natural science, the consumers are joining at a right time,” she says.

“We’re hitting that awesome spot where customers all around the world are slowly challenging these things and are just starting to realise what is in their perfume.”

She adds that natural perfume is starting to become mainstream, with more and more exposure on their ethos, “so we really want to capitalise on that”.

Wanting to become the leader in the perfume industry, Abel Odor is working to “penetrate deep in the US and a few other key markets” to ensure the brand gets out there.

In 2022, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise selected Abel Odor to present to investors in an effort to bridge the gap on female-led businesses that receive less than 20 percent of the country’s angel investment.

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email bernadette.basagre@scg.net.nz

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