The Olfactiv - Caitlyn May
Having suffered a severe depression brought about the stresses of a corporate job, Caitlyn's path would change completely with the act of receiving a simple gift. This set her on a journey of starting her own business and making changes to her life. We chatted to her all about it in this interview.
In a nutshell, what do you do?
I handcraft a range of home fragrance products, from candles to reed diffusers, that are centered around life’s ups and downs, using scent to alter or enhance emotional state of mind.
I am currently running the business by myself.
What makes you different from your competitors?
We do more than just have a collection of lovely seasonal scents, we add a bit of depth and soul into our products. Our range has been created around mood and state of mind as we try connect with our customers on a personal level, helping them get through tough times, or cheering them on on those high-vibe adventures, all through the power of scent.
What inspired you to start the business?
In the midst of a severe depression, onset by the corporate job I had worked my whole career to get, it was now Boxing Day and I had a friend’s party to attend. I hadn’t left my bed for two weeks, bar Christmas Day when I had to cook the traditional dinner for my family and watch the kids open their long awaited presents. There was nothing I wanted to do less at that point… but little did I know, that that night I was about to receive a gift that would set me on a completely different path.
One of my dearest friends gifted me with a home fragrance hamper, containing everything from scented candles to room mists and diffusers. Now, not having grown up with these little luxuries, I had never truly appreciated them, which led them to the back of the cupboard, just like the rest.
A few days later, I mustered up the energy to give the house a spring clean, as my parents were due to visit for the holidays. While getting some fresh linen from the press, I accidentally came across the hamper I had just recently stashed away – “Aha, these may finally come in handy” I thought, as I opened the package and lit the candles. Shortly after, my mood started to lift – and I knew this wasn’t from the excitement of expecting my parents, as I had no ounce of excitement in me.
A few days later, I relit the scented candles that were harbouring on the windowsill – and again, my mood elevated. I have always known that aromatherapy has the power to alter your state of mind, but a candle…? Could it be true…?
An intensive few weeks of research quickly ensued, along with a number of orders to wax and fragrance suppliers across the country. After experimenting, making dozens of variously scented candles and conducting even more burn tests, proving my theory that scent (not only essential oils) has the ability to alter ones state of mind, the idea for The Olfactiv was born…
At my lowest low, that simple, little gift quite literally, changed my life. This event created both our purpose and our mission – to enhance peoples lives and emotional experiences through the power of scent.
2020: What a year! How has the pandemic affected you?
Initially we had to close the business for 6 months as we were not able to access any raw materials – it was a very frustrating time, but it also gave me time to reflect on areas where I could improve.
However, I opened back up a week ago just in time for Christmas, but only with a limited range (we’re stilling struggling with supply).
What do you love most about running your business?
I most love the feedback from customers – this is really what keeps me going. My range has been designed around what I like to call ‘Scent therapy’, so when our scents lift the spirits of someone going through a though time, or elevate their good times, I know I’ve done my job well.
And what are the toughest challenges?
Like with any small business, getting your name out there, especially in a saturated and overly competitive market, has been really challenging. But as a single person entity, I am the manufacturing team, the advertising and sales team, as well as the accountant and operations team. Learning to use time wisely, without ever compromising on quality and still getting things done on time has been a challenging journey.
One piece of advice you’d share with an aspiring entrepreneur?
If you’re starting a business today, my first bit of advice would be to always believe in what you do and never get despondent, either by the level of competition or the negative words around you. If all of us entrepreneurs had our passions quashed by people around us saying it will never work, none of us would have a business right now. Words are powerful things, but your belief in what you do should be far stronger.
Thank you so much, Caitlyn!
Find out more
To find out more about The Olfactiv, you can visit the website.