When Almira Armstrong became a mother she jumped at the chance to create a business for herself. The origin story for fragrance house Lumira begins with a love affair. Armstrong’s long time love for scent that is.
When scent is “transportive and trigger[s] memories” you can’t help but want to surround yourself with the nostalgia fragrance can create. But how to turn a small flame into a global business?
Passion first and foremost. But an attention to detail and a drive to create something with meaning will always prevail. Fragrances originating from far off lands, scents that have a story and a perfume that is unique. These are the hallmarks of the Lumira brand.
Through hard work, mistakes and admittedly a lot of patience, Armstrong shares what she has learned along the way and what the future holds for the Lumira brand.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt through having your own business?
The first few months of any business are uncertain but exciting. I spent a lot of time experimenting with our fragrances. This is something I still do and can take up to 12 months. During the early stages I wore a lot of different hats; one minute you’re working on product development, the next you’re doing a budget, then pitching a potential customer. I think there is a huge amount of value in getting to know each role when building a business, without letting your time get consumed by the minutiae.
In the early days I probably underestimated the potential of the business and my experience since has taught me the importance of making decisions that not only solve the challenges I face today, but also those hurdles 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!
What is one thing you wish you knew before starting out?
Patience. Be prepared to work hard. Know your purpose, know your why. If you believe in it, you can make it happen so don’t give up. I absolutely love what I do, and I think the key to making a business work is growing at an organic pace and following your vision. Making mistakes is the way you learn and improve.
What is the hardest thing about the beauty industry?
Releasing product on time and to a schedule. Production can sometimes take longer than expected and it can be frustrating when fragrances and products need to be delayed.
Where does the idea for a new scent originate from?
For me, fragrances can be very transportive and trigger memories with a power that none of the other senses have. Creating a fragrance begins with a series of inspirations – art, design, travel, poetry… these (and more) are all elements that I draw on for inspiration when developing a new fragrance.
How did Lumira start?
I’ve had a love affair with fragrance for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is playing with mum’s bottles of perfume. As a teen I taught myself how to make candles in the kitchen, which I would then gift to my friends and family on special occasions. After university, a career in marketing kept me in creative circles and, when it came, I jumped at the chance to live, work and travel overseas whilst in that career. But when I became a mum I started to reconsider my path in life. I became really motivated to finally pursue my dream of creating products that let me bring together and indulge my love of scent, design and travel, which led me to creating Lumira in 2013.
The business has grown and changed hugely since it started. What is the biggest business lesson you have learnt?
Be involved, in some capacity, in all parts of your business. To maintain that direction and vision you created from the outset, it is so important that you understand each part of your business. This is regardless of whether you have brought someone in for a particular role - know what they have in place for your brand, understand how they are talking about your brand.
What is your personal beauty routine?
I’m quite minimal when it comes to beauty, but one thing I can’t live without – besides fragrance – is Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20. It’s lightweight but buildable so I can adjust the coverage depending on my skin and the occasion. I mix this with Rationale’s Daily Moisturiser and Eye Cream and top it off with a YSL Mascara.
What is your personal health routine?
Being a mum, running a business and travelling consistently can make me feel like I’m always in motion, so wellness for me is about restoring my equilibrium. Making time for a long walk, doing a workout at F45 Training or having a facial at Jocelyn Petroni doesn’t just help me to look and feel my best, it also gives me the balance I need to keep all the parts of my life moving in the right direction.
Who or what do you turn to when you feel overwhelmed or stressed?
I think the key to overcoming this feeling is having the right support team that always has your back no matter what. I don’t like to ever let work get on top of me so much that I feel too overwhelmed. As time goes on, I have learnt how to control what requires attention and what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s as simple as writing it all down on a piece of paper to bring clarity to your workflow.
What’s next for the brand?
We launched our Parfum Collection earlier this year with a selection of five fragrances, including the much-loved Arabian Oud, Cuban Tobacco and La Primavera, alongside two entirely new scents, Soleil du Maroc and Desert Nights. We have a new scent launching in September and we are also experimenting with some new product lines. I feel so grateful that people love what we’re producing and have helped us get to a place where we can start to experiment with even more product ideas and fragrances. It’s the customers who love what we do that really inspire me to keep creating. I'm also spending a fair bit my time overseas introducing the brand to new markets which is so much fun!