Funding dreams on credit: Fragrance creation
Part 3: A key ingredient of perfumier Geir Ness' fragrance launch was plastic
The dream: Creating his own fragrance
How he used credit
cards: Charged up about $12,000 to work with a perfumer to create a scent
and manufacture the first 1,000 bottles
How he paid off the
debt: He paid only the minimum payments at first, then worked up to $200,
then $500 and so on. He paid the debt off in 14 months.
Advice for others: Treat your credit card like a friend. "If you borrow money from your best
friend, you do whatever you can to pay him back as quickly as possible," Ness
says. "The faster, the better."
The back story: Geir Ness moved from his native Norway to
California in the mid-1990s, and got a job in a department store spritzing
perfume on shoppers. People asked if there was a Norwegian perfume. He
didn't know of one, so he decided to create one.
The problem? He was broke. "The only thing I had was one
credit card," he says. He bought some perfume oils and began experimenting with
scents like lavender and wildflowers that reminded him of childhood hikes
outside his home city of Oslo. Then, he hired a retired perfumer to help him
develop the scent. After they got it right, he had a perfume house make 1,000
bottles of Laila, named for his mom.
He held garage sales to make enough for the minimum payments
on his cards. He got the manager of a Nordstrom in Beverly Hills to let him
launch his fragrance at the store. For the debut of his scent, he bought a $5
suit at a garage sale, borrowed a red carpet and had a photographer friend snap
photos. "I knew I only had one shot at this," he says.
His perfume started to sell well, and he gradually began
selling it in more department stores. He expanded his line to include body
products and began to design handbags. His products are now sold at most
Nordstrom stores, other retailers and many boutiques.
Ultimately, he thinks it was a good decision to use his
credit card: "It was a big risk, but I believed in it."
See related: Main story: 5 who funded their dreams on credit
, Is bad credit bad for small business startups?
Published: March 19, 2013