Giveaway is now closed!
It is my pleasure to share with you my interview with fragrance connoisseur and entrepreneur William Yin from Scent Trunk.
William is the Canadian CEO of the niche/indie perfume samples subscription box Scent Trunk, and in our Q&A below he does a much better job at describing it than I ever could! In a world of subscription boxes that cater to every obsession from dog treats to Washi tape, Will’s company fills a need for quality fragrances delivered to your doorstep monthly or seasonally. Scent Trunk is loved by both experienced niche collectors and those just getting their none-designer game on, all for just $15 a month. (Includes free shipping!)
Below are William’s thoughts about the conversation that started it all, the technology behind Scent Trunk, and picking brands to put in their subscription boxes.
1. For those unfamiliar, what exactly is Scent Trunk, and what makes it unique among other subscription boxes?
Scent Trunk is Netflix for niche/indie fragrances. It’s a personalized fragrance subscription where you get 3 niche/indie scents from around the world, curated to your Scent Profile. That way, it matches your tastes. Every month, you can customize your Scent Profile based on your favorite notes, and as you discover more. You always get what you want! It’s different than other subscription boxes because most others just focus on beauty, and they forget about how important scent is. Compared to other fragrance subscription companies, we focus on niche/indie, and personalize each box! It’s a big risk when boxes aren’t personalized, because what if you don’t like what you get?
2. The company’s story began with your vow to never wear designer fragrances again – have you gone back on that, or does niche/indie keep you busy?
I have not gone back on that. For the people who don’t know why I never wear designer fragrances (besides the fact that they are boring and poor quality), here’s our story:
An old colleague of mine (and also a girl I took out on a date), told me I smelled like her dad… since then, I vowed never to wear designer fragrances again. Because, who wants to smell like someone else? I went on a journey to go beyond the dull department store walls, to find something unique. I discovered this wonderful world of niche/indie fragrances, which were like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I quit my engineering job. Then, I called Rich, and within 10 minutes I got him to quit his engineering job to start a business with me (yes, we’re pretty good friends). We set out to create a fragrance box because we believe, that scent is the ultimate accessory of fashion. A box that’s about quality, not quantity. To this day, I still curate every box, to ensure that you have the best possible, scent discovery experience.
3. Who is the team behind Scent Trunk?
Right now there is myself (CEO), Richard (COO), Scott (CTO) and Jolisa (VP Marketing).
4. How does the technology behind the scent selection work? Users fill out a survey, and then what? Does it update as time goes on?
After the survey, we spit out a Scent Profile. This encapsulates what we think would best fit the person’s tastes. However, what we’ve found is that some experience fragrance-heads have developed very distinct tastes. So for these people, they can actually go in and self-customize their Profile, if they know which notes they like! For example, I like bergamot, I can type “bergamot” into the space in “Update My Scent Profile” and it will tell me that it falls into the Citrus category. What do I do? I drag Citrus up to the max, so my next box has heavy citrus notes!
The Profile does update as time goes on, based on your personal customization, but also based on your scent ratings. As your rate what we give you, your Profile adjusts. It’s really cool. Because our preferences change over time based on our mood, age, season etc.
5. What has the response to Scent Trunk been like?
It’s been great. We’re still a very small company, trying to figuring out how to give customers the best possible product, and we still have a lot of improvements to make. Our customers have been really supportive though. Even when we make mistakes they give us honest feedback for where we can improve and it really motivates us to keep working hard! Our customers have really enjoyed the discovery process, and the fact that the fragrances are so unique. A lot of the ones we get from around the world simply can’t be found here!
6. There are men’s, women’s and unisex Scent Trunks. How are they organized, and what makes them different?
The men’s trunk will get “men’s” fragrances. I put those in quotation marks because personally I believe you can wear anything, as long as you like it. But, many people don’t believe that, which is completely OK. The unisex box just means that you may get “men’s”, you may get “women’s”, you may get “both”, but it will simply be a box of fragrances that most closely match your Scent Profile.
7. From Demeter Fragrance Library to Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes to Amouage – how do you select which brands to carry?
8. What has been the best thing that’s come out from your experience at this company?
I have gotten to try a lot of amazing fragrances. I’m always the best smelling guy at the bar. I’ve learned a lot about starting a business, and about myself. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing!
9. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? What is it, and why? If not, have things always gone exactly as planned?
If I could do it all over again, I would have focused more on procuring the best possible fragrances right from the beginning. We cared too much about the technology in the beginning. I would have also called/emailed customers more often right from the get-go. After talking to the people who are the most passionate about our product, I have learned so much. I shouldn’t have thought that I knew what they wanted, because they know what they want. Now, I know almost all my subscribers by name, and I’ve interacted with a lot of them!
10. Scent Trunk Scent School – what is it, and what can subscribers expect from it?
Scent School is something we’ve started to educate people new and experienced about fragrances. There is a lot of false information out there about fragrances and we wanted to provide people with a source of quality information. It’s a series of blog posts, infographics and videos which people can experience. We are also releasing personalized videos in every subscriber’s My Account page. The videos increase with complexity as a subscriber journey’s through the lifetime of a subscription. So it starts with simple things, like what fragrance notes are, and how to apply. Then, as you have learned more and more, we’ll put videos like fragrance layering!
11. What does the future hold for Scent Trunk? Describe your ultimate vision.
We’re working on making the overall user experience better. Our website is still confusing in a lot of areas. We’re also adding a point system so that subscribers can collect them to save up for full bottles, or exclusive items. We’re thinking about having Scent Trunk atomizers, specialty boxes and more, which can only be obtained through points. Points can be gathered through many different ways, like subscribing, engaging with us, posting on social media and watching Scent School videos.
What I’m most excited about, is building our community. We want to make it easier for Scent Trunk subscribers to interact with other subscribers. We’re not just trying to build a business, we’re trying to build a community. Our vision is to see niche/indie fragrances grow. Too many people are convinced that designer fragrances are quality because of their large marketing budgets. But more and more people are educated themselves and cutting through the marketing budgets to learn about what really makes these products what they are. I guess I just want to see the little guy get the credibility they deserve!
Giveaway time! Just in time for Canada Day and Independence Day, William is giving away a one month Scent Trunk subscription to 5 lucky winners. Please use this link to enter. Giveaway closes July 5th, 2015.