Did you know that memories are very often triggered by fragrance and scent? In chasing her goal of helping us all relive our most precious memories, Asteen of AZPA shares her story. Get to know her, her small business, and what drives the AZPA brand forward!
What inspired you to start AZPA, and did your background and previous career roles help? If so, how?
I had multiple adventures before I decided to start AZPA. I was a Doctor of Medicine and later transitioned into the aviation line. My first taste of entrepreneurship came in 2018 when I opened a bubble tea shop in the Damansara area. Thanks to my medical background and organic chemistry, I have a better understanding of the materials we use in our products. I also had the opportunity to experience many local cultures due to my extensive love of travel. This eventually led to me naming my scents after places I have visited. People say a scent can trigger memories of places and people.
How do you create personalised fragrances for customers, and what is the process for doing so?
I would say that scent is a very subjective thing. What I like may not be what you will like. So, it’s important to understand the customer’s preferences and go from there.
What are some of the most memorable memories or emotions that you have, which are associated with smell?
I used to frequent Seoul in Korea before the COVID-19 pandemic and would meet my many Korean friends there. I have a particular friend who always went out of her way to come see me and bring me around Korea. She was like an older sister to me, so the memories I have of Korea are very warm, lovely, and sweet. To pay homage to that, I created a scent that reminds me fondly of those people, Seoul: Peach & Earl Grey.
Can you tell us about a particularly challenging or rewarding experience you have had while running AZPA?
I can say that starting a business is no walk in the park. 99% of the time something will not according to plan. You can plan down to the most minute detail and come up with all sorts of backup plans to cover everything from A-Z. And yet, you’ll still be caught off guard by problems that emerge.
The most memorable incident was finding over half my bottles broken from courier negligence when we were about to launch our Room & Linen Spray. However, eventually, it all worked out. The most rewarding part of running the business for me is when I get to customise an order. We usually do not charge our customers extra for special packaging for birthdays or other occasions. Everyone deserves to feel special!
How do you source and select the ingredients used in AZPA’s fragrances?
In addition to my prior experiences and knowledge, I am constantly trying to learn and improve myself in this field. Thanks to professional perfumery courses, I can efficiently identify high-quality and safe materials, and also do so through lots of trial and error. Though our products are home fragrances and not skincare or cosmetics, I still test them on my skin and conduct experiments and trials before launching.
How do you see the brand evolving in the future?
We hope to be able to serve our loving and supportive customers by creating more memorable scents and products. Of course, we also hope that our brand will become known throughout Malaysia, and eventually expand into the international market.
Can you tell us about any special or unique fragrances that AZPA offers?
All our scents are special and intricately curated to create a memorable experience and memory. But, if I were to pick out our best sellers, they would be Cyprus (Oud, Patchouli, and Musk), Monaco (Melon, Sea Salt, and Sage), Seoul (Peach and Earl Grey), and Havana (Orange and Chamomile).
What’s the nicest thing someone has ever said to you regarding their AZPA fragrance?
Honestly, we have received lots of nice and encouraging feedback! We’re ever so grateful for our customers who took the time and effort to convey how they feel to us. These are some of the examples:
“Pembungkusan yang sangat cantik. Datang dalam kotak yang cantik dan ada kad ucapan disertakan sekali. Terasa istimewa pulak. Baunya sangat harum dan segar, rasa lebih bersemangat untuk kerja bila bilik bau wangi. Suka sangat. Terima kasih seller yang baik hati.” – Fariza
“Was in Penang for a short vacation and stumbled upon this shop. Bought their product and soon fell in love with it. If you ever want to get something that calms you down after a tired day, this is something you need to get! Plus, the delivery is super fast too!” – Eugene
How does AZPA maintain consistency and quality in its fragrances?
I guess personally, I am a perfectionist and my team comprises like-minded people. So, we wouldn’t sell anything we personally wouldn’t use. Treat your customers how you want to be treated.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own small business?
The road is long and hard, but always remind yourself of why you started in the first place. If you can’t see your end destination, take the step in front of you, and you will slowly arrive at where you want to be.