The Trendsetters: The creatives behind the buzziest consumer trends
Owner and creative director, Phlur
Many people would choose to retreat from the public eye amid a divorce. But Chriselle Lim instead launched a perfume inspired by hers. The influencer-entrepreneur relaunched the “clean” fragrance brand Phlur in February. Shortly thereafter, with the help of TikTok and superinfluencer Mikayla Nogueira, its debut fragrance, Missing Person, went viral.
A brand can never truly plan for virality, Lim said, looking back on Phlur’s first nine months. “[For us,] the storytelling element created the foundation of what Missing Person and the brand were about, and that was a story of my divorce, my separation and my heartbreak, and creating something that felt very nostalgic and warm, and bottling that up.” Fragrance may be hard to sell online, but the relatability of heartbreak is universal.
TikTok was abuzz about Missing Person after Nogueira ordered her own bottle to see what all the fuss was about. When she posted about it in March, the brand sold out of a year’s worth of inventory in 10 minutes, creating a 200,000-person waitlist, Lim said.
That said, Lim said a business is not built off of virality or an influencer’s following. Though she creates content about Phlur, it is only posted on her own page. However, with 1.5 million Instagram followers, she has more than Phlur, which has accumulated 154,000.
It is “intentional” that Lim’s face is not plastered on Phlur’s page, she said. In a crowded market of celebrity- and influencer-founded brands, she is adamant that, to win, a brand must be product-first. The “chapter” of a creator slapping their name on something and expecting it to sell is over, she said. “It might have worked in the beginning, but the consumer is a smart consumer. Now, they buy things based on their knowledge, research, education and also UGC, what [other consumers] are saying about it,” she said.
Ultimately, Lim believes Phlur’s longevity will hinge on its ability to stand on its own. “We don’t want the state of the brand to depend on the relevancy of an influencer or a celebrity, because the minute they’re not relevant anymore, the brand goes down, as well.”
When it comes to the success of influencer-founder brands, Lim said the question is, “If their face or name disappeared and was never shown again, would people still buy the product?”
She added, “If the answer is yes, then great. If the answer is no, then you’re relying too heavily on talent. We’re growing this brand beyond [my own community]. We’re building a proper brand for the general public that we want to become a household name.”
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