Interview: Michael from Aromaflage

     Culicidae; sound familiar? It should. It’s the proper name of the most bothersome insect in the animal kingdom – the dreaded mosquito. Too many picnics, camping trips and campfires have been ruined by the bloodsucking parasites. But what’s worse, getting bitten by a miniature vampire, or covering yourself and your loved ones with DEET and other chemicals you’re not familiar with? Well, now you don’t have to choose. Introducing Michael Fensterstock from Aromaflage.

     Michael and wife/partner Melissa are the founders of this unique product range. Aromaflage is a specially-made perfume that naturally repels insects. You’ll be the best-smelling, most malaria-free guest at the luncheon!

Photo courtesy of Michael

Photo courtesy of Michael

     Below are Michael’s thoughts about using natural alternatives to harmful chemicals, launching a successful business, and taking on too much in a new venture.


 

What is Aromaflage and how did it come to be?

     The discovery of Aromaflage was a magical coincidence. The problem to be solved was to have a healthy, great smelling bug repellent spray while we were in the southeast Asian jungles. We stumbled across a glass vial filled with this mystery blend. The rest of our trip was bug free. We needed to bring this juice to the world. Now we are making Aromaflage candles (100% natural soy wax with a clean burning cotton wick). Everybody hates citronella and that black POOF from those candles!


We do, indeed! What makes Aromaflage different from mass-market bug repellents and perfumes?

     Aromaflage is on a mission to create a novel solution to a real problem affecting millions of people. Mosquitoes are not only annoying, but also carry deadly diseases. Most answers to these pesky beasts are toxic and noxious containing harsh chemicals like DEET and can potentially cause long-term health issues. Other natural solutions smell bad. Our solution is focused on a healthy alternative to protecting one’s family (while also smelling pretty darn great). Melissa’s health science background lends itself to truly appreciating the science behind Aromaflage while I love seeing people smile and able to enjoy the outdoors carefree..


Tell us a bit about the fragrance of Aromaflage and Aromaflage Wild.

     Aromaflage Wild combines notes of spicy cardamom, warm cedarwood, and snappy spruce – people say it reminds them of the spa or even Christmas.

     Aromaflage is sweet and combines notes of citrus fruit, warm cedarwood, and silken vanilla.


Christmas and spa? Count me in! What has the reaction to the Aromaflage products line been like?

     When it boils down to it, humans all across the world would burn woods like cedar and fruits like vanilla to release their essential oils and naturally repel insects. This has been going on for thousands of years in cultures throughout the world.

     Most people who smell Aromaflage and Aromaflage Wild are initially dubious as to its effectiveness. When we tell them about the tests that were done and the history behind using essential oils as insect repellents, they are more than pleasantly surprised and some have even said that it’s genius. I think we are just trying to solve a nasty problem with a beautiful, functional, practical solution.


So then, what is the difference between Aromaflage in liquid and candle form?

     Aromaflage is a personal fragrance and has no soy in it. Our candles come in Wine glasses (or gorgeous golden ceramic sculpted pots), and use one of the cleanest 100% soy waxes on the market. Our wicks are a textile grade cotton – they have a very clean burn relative to most other candles and smell wonderful while also repelling insects without releasing petroleum or other chemicals.


What has been the most surprising element of launching the business?

     Coming up with an innovative solution, beautiful packaging, and bringing it to the market is a ton ​of fun. What has been surprising is the amount of blocking and tackling I have to do on a daily business. Operating a CPG company is a ton of work and making sure that every customer is happy, every order fulfilled quickly, inventory levels are kept at a decent level while not depleting cash reserves…these are just some of the daily things I think about and need to be cognizant of. Additionally, there is an interesting macro effect on every business that entrepreneurs must think about. These issues can be global, climate, political, etc. and can have dramatic effects on businesses. Paying attention to details while remaining hyper aware of my surroundings…not surprising, just really eye opening. I have always lived by, “keep your head on a swivel!”


If you could go back in time and do one thing differently in the business, what would it be?

     Melissa and I like to roll up our sleeves. At the beginning, we actually bought a crimping machine, surgical syringes, and we filled 2,600 bottles by hand. This was laborious, exhausting, and massively inefficient. In the end, we learned the process of bottling, filling crimping, adding a collar, etc. but we should have outsourced this piece of the puzzle sooner to a professional filler. It would have saved us time, stress, and, as my mom likes to call it, “brain damage” (brain damage being an aphorism for distraction 😉 ).


What is your advice to entrepreneurs and to people looking to get into the cosmetics business?

     The biggest decision in business is, if you are going to have a partner, picking the right one. I am extremely fortunate to inherently trust my partner, Melissa, my wife. Every day, decisions have to be made. Being able to rely on someone, other than yourself (frankly, there is way too much to do NOT to have a trusted partner on your team), has been critical to me being able to function and run the company.


How involved were you in the production of the finished product, from the science behind it to the packaging?

     We are very hands on and like to touch every part of development while working with specialists who know certain parts of the puzzle. We work with professionals who specialize in formulation, product development, packaging, etc. but we are very hands on managers.


What does the future hold for Aromaflage?

     Great things! Having just launched at Dillards, we are going to do everything in our power to make that launch a huge success!

     Following that, we are looking to grow our distribution, continue to bring to market innovative products, and as always, bug free backyards everywhere!​


 

     I would like to thank Michael for taking the time to share his ideas with me. You can find Aromaflage at their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook page.


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