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How this start-up passed the sniff test on olfactory wellness

Idealog writer Bernadette Basagre talks to new start-up INXHALE Founder Kate Guthrie and why she decided to delve into the world of olfactory wellness.

Just like you, I was stumped when I first heard the words ‘olfactory wellness’ – for me, it started when an email came in on new Marlborough-based start-up dubbed INXHALE. So, what is it?

“Olfactory is your sense of smell. It follows the direct pathway to the brain, and so it has significance. It has been scientifically proven that carefully formulated aromas can impact your memory, memory function and emotional centres, so it’s an emerging market, an emerging product category,” says founder Kate Guthrie.

Guthrie was first exposed to the world of olfactory wellness from her now product developer, Stacey Fraser, while they were on a wellness retreat together. Just like me, Guthrie heard the word and immediately searched it up.

Following the retreat, Guthrie undertook a mission of a nine-hour drive back from Kurow in Canterbury to Blenheim, where she faced the biggest struggle: staying awake. Coffee wasn’t doing it for her, neither was chewing gum.

“I was sort of like ‘imagine if there was something else that could just either blow on your face that could keep you alert’ and that’s when it came to me,” Guthrie explains her a-ha moment.

Immediately, Guthrie found Fraser from her wellness retreat and started talking about the what-ifs of olfactory wellness. The more she dived into the world, Guthrie realised the opportunity for something unique and innovative that could answer issues that not only her, but a lot of people were facing.

Olfactory wellness is not a new concept, it has been around for years, even a main component of Chinese medicine which dates back to ancient times. Guthrie looks at her venture, INXHALE, as an evolution of it to fit the needs of New Zealand audiences.

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For INXHALE, Guthrie brought onboard perfumer and professor at University of Canterbury, Conan Fee, to back her work, as her goal is to become “the forefront” of olfactory wellness in New Zealand.

“It has been driven by science, it’s not a gimmicky sort of thing,” she adds.

With the help of Fee, Guthrie was able to create two products, inhalers that support being alert, and being calm in certain situations.

“Through our research we learned quickly that while up and coming functional fragrances and wellbeing-centered diffusers are emerging in this space, the science tells us that for the olfactory system to be stimulated in a way that has lasting effect, its got to be direct – with a nasal inhaler,” she says.

“What I have produced, especially with the calm one, is that even though I produced it specifically for helping you be calm, it’s got so many other benefits as well, like it’s helping people sleep.”

Kate Guthrie.

Prior to the inhalers that work with a simple sniff, Guthrie revealed that they were in the works to create car diffusers but were met with a number of variables that stopped them before they came up with the end product.

INXHALE partnered up with award-winning Thai inhaler innovators, Apaul to create the best possible way for consumers to receive the benefits of Guthrie’s products.

Though she has two products in the market, Guthrie stated that she wanted to be at the forefront of olfactory wellness and for her, that means being the go-to for education and showing people the benefits of what this has to offer.

“I’m not here to make lots of money. I would love to make lots of money, don’t get me wrong, obviously, but it is that thing is that I’ve always been that sort of person that wants to make a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

“I’m driven by that sense of purpose and wanting to help others. And if I can make a change in say, 10 people’s lives, then hopefully that will flow on even throughout their whole circle.”

So, what is olfactory wellness to Guthrie? To her, it is clear as day that this venture is her passion project and she is keen to let the entire world know.

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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