It’s strange that retail industry often doesn’t really take notice of you until you are in a well-known retailer. Lumira is a luxury niche fragrance house based in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 2013 by creative director Almira Armstrong, Lumira designs artisanal scents for the home and the self. Lumira has been smashing open the department store doors with global distribution since 2014. Retail Beauty chats with Almira on her distribution journey around  the world before landing on the cosmetic floor at David Jones.

Why did you create Lumira?

I have always had a passion for fragrance and scent, understanding how people create perfumes that are so identifiable and distinctly associated with their brand. However, my own passion around this was really manifested in me once I started buying beautiful perfumes and occasionally making candles to burn at home. Post university, my life quickly became consumed with my career in PR and marketing, and travel – I spent quite a few years living and working abroad in London and New York. However, when I fell pregnant with my son, I had this very real desire to turn this ongoing passion around fragrance into a small business venture. My husband had visions of me selling my creations at the markets, but I formulated a business plan that took it beyond that and I really honed in on all aspects of this – from the fragrance design, to the packaging, to quality control, to price points. Each and every part of the Lumira brand was considered, until eventually in 2013, I took it to market.  I absolutely love the process of developing a new fragrance. My perfumer and I sit together and we discuss the direction I am thinking the new fragrance will take – inspiration, key notes, overall mood of the fragrance. We then start building it out. This process can take a month, or it can take twelve months. It’s a really varied process, but it’s one that is so important to the Lumira brand.

Which department store was the first to take on your brand?

Selfridges, London and then Barneys, New York. It was a dream to be noticed by these global department stores.  Both took time to nurture and we ultimately won their hearts with our perfume storytelling and brand presence.

What makes your products unique?

Lumira is unashamedly a luxury brand. Our reason for being is to help people immerse themselves in moments of blissful luxury. That applies to everything from the moment you slide into the bath with a candle on, to our packaging and product quality.  It is also our guiding principle for everything we do in the future. Every brand contact point must immerse a consumer in moments of luxury, even if it’s the bus from the airport on a Lumira travel experience. Holding true to your brand values over time is an important key to success.

Top 3 tips for breaking into the overseas market?

  1. Know your brand
  2. Know your audience
  3. Be patient and believe in yourself.

How has your thinking changed since Covid-19?

When retailers were forced to close, we were affected on a wholesale level immediately.  This required us to analyse the business and make some tough decisions.  However, with more and more people working from home, we were able to harness the opportunity with our end consumer and speak directly with them. We introduced ‘A Life With Scent’ on our Journal which provided customers a way to connect with the brand and also offer a sense of escape during this time.

What is your greatest success?

There have truly been so many. It can take more than 12 months to create one of our fragrances, so it’s always a wow moment when I have the completed scent in my hands. Seeing Lumira in some of the world’s finest retailers – including Selfridges in the UK, Bergdorf Goodman and Barney’s in New York and on Net-A-Porter – will always give me a thrill. But one of the moments I’m most proud of is our collaboration with the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, where we’re helping to raise funds to support the essential science and conservation work being done by Royal Botanic Gardens around the world.

What has been your most valuable learning?

Over the years, the importance of making decisions that not only solve the challenges I face today, but also those 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!

Advice to the next generation of brand creators?

Follow your intuition, build resilience and have the ability to preserve. I think resilience is built over time and adopting a positive outlook will help overcome any future challenges business owners might be face. I surround myself with good people, I have a very uplifting team around me. I always refer back to my ‘WHY’ and instantly it reminds me why I do what I do. I love my job, and my passion for this industry and my brand keep me inspired daily!  It’s simple: if you are passionate about something, then you have something valuable to offer an audience. There will never be a ‘right’ time to start putting your business out there – I think women tend to sit on their ideas because they don’t feel like they are ready. Perfectionism is something we all deal with to some degree; I would advise to just begin with what you have and grow from there.

What do you do for work life balance?

Being a busy mum and always on the go, I like to make sure I make time for myself and restoring my equilibrium. I like meditating in the morning, going for long walks or doing a workout with F45 to get my day started. 

This article is featured in the Spring edition of Retail Beauty, out soon.

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