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Nicole Eckels | CEO & Co-founder | Glasshouse Fragrances

Nicole Eckels: Leading the Business of Primal Senses

What drives human heart and mind? Philosophically speaking, senses tend to have a hold on our behaviour, our approach, our thinking, and most of all our actions. When you sense something good is going to happen, you experience a joyful event that fills your heart with happiness. When you sense something is wrong, and mostly your intuition is right, you see something bad happening to you or around you. Senses control our lives in a way that cannot be explained rationally. It all depends on one’s belief. Being able to control your senses or just enhance it, is a task. But many people do it intrinsically. Similarly, harnessing the raw power of primal senses to drive her business towards glory is Nicole Eckels, CEO and Co-founder of Glasshouse Fragrances. The company is a part of Sapphire Group which is also spearheaded by Nicole.

Nicole has always loved and been emersed in the creativity of the beauty and fragrance industry. Having started as a make-up artist in her hometown of New York City, she loved the transformative power of make-up and fragrances. “As my career evolved, I had an opportunity to move into B2B sales which saw me relocate to San Francisco,” she describes.

While she learnt a lot in this role, Nicole was yearning for a more empowering and creative outlet. At the same time, she was relocating herself along with her son to the beautiful sunny shores of Sydney, Australia.

As fate would have it, the moving paved the way for the establishment of Glasshouse Fragrances. “I was in a Sydney department store looking to replace a much-loved candle. I was quick to see the luxury candles I knew from home, and the low-end low-fragrance brands but what I couldn’t see was a product that offered me a high-quality fragrance, in a beautiful vessel at an accessible price point,” shares Nicole. After a lot of research, strategic planning and the first batch being made in Nicole’s kitchen, Glasshouse Fragrances came to life.

Enlightening the World with Fragrances

Nicole and her team oversee everything in-house, from the creation of the products, the marketing of the products and of course manufacturing itself. Normally, many brands would like to work with the approach where the idea was spawned first and then the product to be launched was handed to a third-party manufacturer for production of the final goods.

Nicole although, had a different way in mind. After she launched the idea for the product, Nicole started a privatized factory for Glasshouse Fragrances because she was not happy with the quality that was being produced in Australia. “When I started the business, rather than selling in the range to as many retailers as possible, I gave them the range on consignment, letting them know that they didn’t have to pay for the product unless they sold it,” says Nicole. Luckily for her and the team of Glasshouse Fragrances, the products sold right away and then those temporary retailers became permanent retail partners.

“I wasn’t simply launching a new product; I was creating an entirely new category,” informs Nicole. There were a lot of people who did not believe in her idea initially, particularly the part where people would be willing to pay for customized scented candles. “I also had no idea how to make a decent candle and now they are world class. We have come a long way indeed,” states Nicole.

The Smell of Success

The company has become a true fragrance brand in the last six months with the launch of its personal fragrance category. This is exactly what the team of Glasshouse Fragrances needed before looking further at the global expansion, building on the current 1200 retailers across Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, and New Zealand.
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Glasshouse Fragrances have had a solid business in place prior to the pandemic. Like any other business, the company had to pivot and remain agile to experience excellent growth over the last six months. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The cocooning effects. With everyone working from home they are looking to make their home experience more beautiful, and they turn to candles to help do this.
  2. The company had a strong ecommerce channel in place, so it did not have to rush and create. All the credit for this goes to the team of Glasshouse Fragrances, they were ready.
  3. The factory was able to continue with business as usual, all within the Covidsafe requirements. The client orders were fulfilled at optimum capacity with the headcount of the company remaining full.

Glasshouse Fragrances are in a category that is quite simple. The sense of smell is primal, so Nicole focuses on making the best possible product, great packaging that differs, and groundbreaking scents that whisk the customers away. “This style of innovation is what matters most to our customers who like us, are addicted to scent,” adds Nicole.

Advising fresh entrepreneurs. Nicole conveys, “You have to make it easy to do business with you, you have to take ownership and follow up – and remember there is always a way in, a way over, a way around or a way through.”

Nicole has always been an entrepreneur; it is in her blood. She is a naturally excited person who always keeps dreaming and thinking of new possibilities.