What were you up to when you were 14? Immersed in your own little world of your friends, books, and the herculean task of passing maths?
Mumbai-based Aryahi Agarwal, a student of Class 9, has an extra thing or two on her plate. At 14 years of age, she is the founder of Bella Fragrances, which claims to be a “100 per cent organic” perfume line for teenagers.
“This is my second entrepreneurial venture,” Aryahi, who exudes confidence, tells The Better India. “When I was 11, I launched a venture to upcycle old t-shirts into bags. I won first place in a competition for it.”
Three years later, she launched her second venture. The idea, she says, stemmed from a personal desire to buy affordable perfume for herself. “Most good quality perfumes cost upwards of Rs 2,000, which is steep for a student to buy themselves. I wanted to make something that my friends could purchase without feeling a pinch,” she says.
Citing Walt Disney’s autobiography as her inspiration, she says, “The idea of becoming an entrepreneur and managing something on my own has always excited me. This is a dream come true,” she says.
The Birth of an Idea
“During the lockdown, I was looking for a good perfume. I never found anything I liked. The notes were either too old for me, or extremely floral in nature. Nothing seemed tailor-made, and speaking to my friends made me realise that many others felt the same way,” says Aryahi.
This was how the idea of starting a fragrance brand that is exclusively for teenage girls struck Aryahi. “I wanted to develop a perfume that we could afford without just resorting to our mothers’ stash. I also wanted to come up with something that was mild and could be worn to school,” she says. It took Aryahi close to six months to formulate her plan and start the company, she says. She describes this as the most difficult part of the job.
“I had the chance to speak to multiple industry experts and veterans, all of whom dissuaded me from entering the space. They said it would be impossible to make an organic perfume within the price range I was aiming for,” she says. Over and above this, she says that none of the vendors were able to understand what she was trying to achieve, so no help came from that quarter either.
Aryahi’s mother, Raji Agarwal, who has been a constant support through her daughter’s entrepreneurial journey, says, “It was difficult to see her feel so disappointed after her talks with her mentors. There were days and moments when she would cry. Sometimes, she would ask us if there was any point in even continuing. We kept encouraging and reassuring her that trying was important, the outcome was secondary.”
Aryahi notes, “It was terribly demotivating, but at the same time, I would wake up every morning feeling confident. I felt I had it in me to create the right fragrance. My father would often quote famous personalities who succeeded in life despite being told by others that they wouldn’t.”
Handmade Fragrances in Each Bottle
Aryahi experimented with essential oil mixtures and says that it took her over six months to finally get the blend right. “Everything is handmade and I work on all the formulations myself. Each batch that I made was given to friends to test out. It was with their feedback that I fine-tuned the formulation at every stage,” she says.
Since her target audience is teenagers, she says that she had a ready testing group when she came up with the product. “Every few months, I would hand over a bottle of perfume to my friends and seek their opinion. They have been the best and most critical feedback givers I could ask for. They never minced their words, and told me exactly how they felt.”
She jokes about how her room perpetually smells of rose and other floral notes. At the moment, there are two fragrances available, called Bella Organics and Bella Naturals. Both are priced at Rs 599 for a 30-ml bottle. Aryahi says that Bella Naturals has 21 notes, is safe to use on the skin, lasts longer, and has a very floral fragrance. Meanwhile, Bella Organics has three notes, is milder, and derived primarily from rose. She also adds here that each bottle has up to 80 spray counts, which should last up to three months.
Since going live and accepting orders from December 2021, Aryahi says that there has been a steady growth, with which she has managed to make over Rs 65,000. “My father had initially invested Rs 20,000 in my venture, and I am proud to say that I managed to return double that amount to him in less than three months,” she says.
“I am also open to customising a fragrance for anyone who so desires,” she says.
Orders are shipped pan-India. You can contact Aryahi via Instagram, or call on +91-98208 21213.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)