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How to Start a Perfume Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Perfume Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$3,350 - $8,100

Revenue potential

$73,000 - $730,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$44,000 - $146,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Are you fascinated by unique and appealing fragrances? Creating perfumes can be not only fun, but also a lucrative endeavor. The $30 billion global perfume industry is growing fast — projected to expand more than 40% by 2028. If you’re able to come up with an appealing fragrance or two and design sharp packaging, you could help countless people smell good and ride this growth wave to build your own major perfume brand. 

But before you start mixing essential oils and creating your distinctive blends, you’ll need to understand the entrepreneurial process. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide details everything you need to know to develop and launch a successful perfume company. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a perfume business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Creative Outlet – Let your creative juices flow
  • Flexibility – Start your business from home, set your hours
  • Good Money – Profit margins on perfume are high

Cons

  • Crowded Market – Compete with many perfume businesses
  • Manufacturer Needed – Find a manufacturer with low minimum orders

Perfume industry trends

Industry size and growth

perfume industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the perfume industry include:

  • Demand for luxury and exotic fragrances is growing globally, driven by higher standards of living.
  • Consumers are increasingly seeking perfumes that are environmentally friendly and made with natural ingredients — a potential opportunity for the entrepreneur. 

Challenges in the perfume industry include:

  • Knock-offs of leading brands that look and smell just like the original and have the same name are a huge problem in the perfume industry and are making consumers turn away from the original products due to skepticism. 
  • There are many technical obstacles in the manufacturing process of making sustainable perfume that the industry is trying to overcome. One is that the production process of making of sustainable perfume is associated with a greater consumption of fossil fuel and the production of CO2.
perfume industry Trends and Challenges

Demand hotspots

  • Most popular states The most popular states for perfumers are Connecticut, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.((https://www.zippia.com/perfumer-jobs/best-states/))
  • Least popular states The least popular states for perfumers are Oklahoma, Georgia, and Hawaii. 
perfume industry demand hotspots

What kind of people work in Perfume?

  • Gender –  41.2% of perfumers are female, while 47.1% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/perfumer-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average perfumer has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age – The average perfumer in the US is 43.3 years old.
perfume industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a perfume business?

Startup costs for a perfume business range from $3,500 to $8,000. You could start by making your perfume at home and bottling and packaging it yourself. Costs include ingredients, perfume-making equipment, bottles and packaging. Once your volume increases, you’ll need to find a white-label manufacturer that will allow you to put your brand on products it produces. White Glove Perfumery is an example of a white-label manufacturer. 

If you partner with a manufacturer from the start, you’ll likely need to spend at least $8,000 for inventory. You might want to take online perfume-making courses through Perfume World. Courses are free but perfume starter kits cost $230. Courses are self-study and can be completed in a few weeks. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your perfume business, including: 

  • Measuring cylinders, beakers, flasks
  • Digital scale
  • Plastic pipettes
  • Testing strips
  • Bottles and vials
  • Labeling and packaging materials
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Perfume ingredients$500 - $1,000$750
Perfume making equilpment$500 - $1,000$750
Bottles and packaging$800 - $2,000$1,400
Total$3,350 - $8,100$5,725

How much can you earn from a perfume business?

Prices for perfume vary greatly. They can be anywhere from $10 a bottle to hundreds of dollars. As a new brand, you might be able to command $20 a bottle. Your profit margin after ingredients and packaging should be about 60% if you sell directly online. You can also try to get retailers to stock your perfume brand, but your profit margin will be lower, around 40%.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 10 bottles a day, bringing in $73,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $44,000 in profit, assuming that 60% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you get repeat customers and retail partners, sales could climb to 100 bottles a day. At this stage, you’d have a manufacturer, rent a commercial space, and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 20%. With annual revenue of $730,000, you’d make an impressive profit of $146,000.

perfume business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a perfume business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • The skills and creativity needed to make unique and appealing fragrances
  • Standing out in a competitive market

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a perfume business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research perfume businesses online and in your area to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a perfume line with sustainable distinctive blends or a perfume made with scented essential oils that also have wellness benefits.

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as body sprays or perfume oils.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.

What? Determine your products

You’ll need to come up with unique perfume recipes. You should probably start with one fragrance. Your bottle and packaging will also be very important, as it’s often the packaging that encourages people to buy.

How much should you charge for perfume?

Pricing for perfume can be tricky. If you want to present your brand as a luxury product, you shouldn’t price it too low, but as a newcomer to the market, you don’t want to price it too high. Check the prices of fragrances that are similar to yours to make sure you’re competitive. After the costs of ingredients and packaging, you should aim for a profit margin of about 60% at least.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad, but you may want to design your perfume and packaging to appeal to a certain market. If you target younger people, you can find them on TikTok or Instagram, while older demographics you could find on Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a facility where you can prepare your perfumes for shipping. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
perfume business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Perfume Brand Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “perfume” or “fragrances”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Scent Haven” over “Men’s Cologne Corner”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Perfume Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview highlighting the key points of the perfume business plan, including its objectives, unique selling proposition, and financial projections.
  • Business Overview: An in-depth description of the perfume business, detailing its mission, vision, target market, and core values.
  • Product and Services: Explanation of the perfume products and related services offered, emphasizing their unique features and benefits.
  • Market Analysis: Examination of the perfume industry, identifying target demographics, market trends, and potential growth opportunities.
  • Competitive Analysis: Assessment of competitors in the perfume market, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the business.
  • Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting and selling the perfume products, encompassing advertising, branding, and sales tactics.
  • Management Team: Introduction of the key individuals responsible for leading and managing the perfume business, highlighting their qualifications and roles.
  • Operations Plan: Details on the day-to-day operations of the perfume business, including production processes, supply chain management, and distribution channels.
  • Financial Plan: Comprehensive overview of the financial aspects, such as startup costs, revenue projections, and profit margins, providing a clear picture of the business’s financial viability.
  • Appendix: Additional supporting documents and information, such as market research data, resumes of key team members, and any other relevant materials that provide context and depth to the business plan.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to perfume businesses.

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your perfume business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a perfume business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. 

types of business financing

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a perfume business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your perfume business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as LS Retail, Vend, or Retail Pro, to manage purchasing, inventory, and invoicing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

Launching a perfume business can be an aromatic adventure, and successful marketing is the key to enticing customers into the world of your scents. Here are some concise and practical strategies to help your perfume business stand out.

  1. Storytelling Through Fragrance Profiles:
    • Craft compelling narratives around each perfume, emphasizing the emotions and experiences associated with the scents to create a more intimate connection with potential customers.
  2. Limited Edition Releases:
    • Generate excitement and urgency by periodically releasing limited edition perfumes, creating a sense of exclusivity and encouraging customers to make timely purchases.
  3. Influencer Collaborations:
    • Partner with influencers in the beauty and lifestyle niche to showcase your perfumes through authentic reviews and engaging content, reaching a wider audience and building credibility.
  4. Interactive Sampling Campaigns:
    • Offer interactive and personalized sampling experiences, such as scent quizzes or in-store fragrance consultations, to help customers find their perfect match and enhance their overall shopping experience.
  5. Sensory Branding in Physical Spaces:
    • Utilize sensory elements like ambient music, complementary visuals, and themed displays in physical stores to create a multisensory environment that enhances the overall perception of your brand.
  6. Engaging Social Media Challenges:
    • Launch social media challenges encouraging users to share creative content related to your perfumes, fostering user-generated content and increasing online visibility.
  7. Subscription Services:
    • Introduce a subscription service that delivers a curated selection of your perfumes to customers’ doors regularly, providing a convenient way for them to explore your range and discover new favorites.
  8. Partnerships with Fashion Brands:
    • Collaborate with fashion brands for cross-promotions, integrating your perfumes into their runway shows, photo shoots, or product launches to tap into a broader audience.
  9. Signature Scent Events:
    • Host events where customers can create their custom signature scents, offering a unique and memorable experience that deepens their connection with your brand.
  10. Community Engagement:
    • Actively engage with your audience on social media, responding to comments, conducting polls, and sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses to foster a sense of community around your perfume brand.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your perfume business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your perfume business could be:

  • Luxury fragrances made with all-natural ingredients
  • Body sprays to feel fresh and special 
  • Fragrances that delight your senses — and his! 
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a perfume business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in perfume for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in perfume. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a perfume business include:

  • Packagers – prepare perfumes for shipping
  • General Manager – ordering, inventory management, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Perfume Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

What’s that scent? It smells like money! It’s the perfect time to get into the perfume industry, which is set for sharp growth. You can mix up your own perfume recipes, bottle them at home, and sell them online or in retailers and make a good living. It doesn’t take a huge investment to get started, and you could eventually grow your perfumery into a global brand. 

You’ve gained ground already, having gained some business knowledge, now it’s time to start creating great fragrances and launch your successful perfume company!

Perfume Business FAQs

Can a perfume business be profitable?

Yes, profit margins on perfume are high. You just need to come up with unique fragrances and creative packaging to be successful.

How should I price my perfume?

Pricing for perfume can be tricky. If you want to present your brand as a luxury product, you shouldn’t price it too low, but as a newcomer to the market, you don’t want to price it too high. Look at other fragrances that are similar to yours to see what their prices are. After the costs of ingredients and packaging, you should aim for a profit margin of about 60% at least. Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points.

Is it expensive to start a perfume line?

Starting a perfume line can be expensive, as it involves various costs such as research and development, sourcing high-quality ingredients, packaging, branding, marketing, and complying with regulations. The exact expenses can vary depending on the scale and complexity of the line.

How can I sell my perfume fast?

To sell your perfume quickly, you can employ several strategies. Firstly, focus on effective marketing and branding to create awareness and desire for your product. Utilize social media, online platforms, and traditional advertising channels to reach your target audience. Collaborating with influencers or offering samples can also help generate buzz.

Is it hard to start a perfume business?

Starting a perfume business can be challenging. It requires extensive research and knowledge of the fragrance industry, including formulation, sourcing ingredients, manufacturing, and compliance with regulatory requirements. 

What ingredient makes a perfume last longer?

The ingredient that helps a perfume last longer is called a fixative. Fixatives are substances that slow down the evaporation rate of the fragrance, allowing it to linger on the skin for a longer duration.

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How to Start a Perfume Business