While it is easy to forget someone’s name or face after the first encounter, their aroma lingers in one’s memory. While the way you smell can set you apart, people should not spend thousands on quality perfume, according to Hloni Leotlela, who founded Sentebale Scents in 2021. Leotlela, who is from Katlehong in Ekurhuleni, told Vutivi News that he started making perfume because it was pricey.
“I couldn’t afford designer perfumes and I did not want to be restricted to wearing one kind of scent,” he said. “I discovered that the reason why perfumes and colognes are so expensive amounts to the marketing, packaging and branding. I also learned that the raw materials are not that expensive.” Seeing an opportunity after this realisation, Leotlela decided to take advantage of the “booming sector”.
“People who cannot afford the original expensive perfume brands can go to a lab and find out the chemical composition of the fragrance,” he said. “These labs have found this to be a very lucrative business opportunity and have started supplying entrepreneurs with perfume oils. All they have to do is to acquire the alcohol and teach themselves how to mix and mature the perfumes.”
Leotlela said that his brand has 30 different scents. “There should be scents for different occasions… for summer, for going to the office, going out with friends or on a date, or even for when you’re sitting at home,” he said. “This is because scents evoke different feelings, emotions and moods, and they remind you of a certain place and a certain time and a certain person.”
Leotlela said it was important for him to change some of the misunderstandings surrounding perfumes and colognes. “There is a misconception that perfume is expensive, and with this brand, I want to change that,” he said. Leotlela sells his perfumes to consumers and to those who want to resell them.
“One 50ml bottle is currently R160 and resellers can stock 10 bottles for R800 because the bulk perfume does not come with the packaging,” Leotlela said that aside from the usual challenge of financial resources when he started out, it was very difficult to convince people that his business is not an online scam.
“I would have to use testimonials from my happy customers and prove to them that my business is legitimate.” But in the new year, the Braamfontein-based businessman’s future is looking bright. He is planning on launching a physical store in Johannesburg in the coming months.