Beatrice Olumhense loves to travel – and is especially inspired by the scents she experiences in the new places she explores. At the beginning of the pandemic however, Olumhense took a mandatory break from traveling, as well as a personally necessary step back from full-time work for health reasons – which left her with far more free time than usual. She decided to craft her own line of signature scents with the unprecedented opportunity – the beginnings of what would become home goods company Patrickrow Maison. From her base of operations in Lagos, Nigeria, Olumhense hand crafts organic candles, diffusers and fragrance oils. And all of them are scented to evoke memories of her favorite cities – from earthy Barcelona to bright and floral Casablanca.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
Because of my Sickle Cell Disease, clean air is especially important for me. As such, all of our products are organic and eco-friendly, and each is carefully made using coconut soy wax, essential oils and natural fragrances.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Starting both my business while also completing my MBA in a pandemic year, and remaining committed to both journeys despite all of the challenges I faced along the way.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
We started operations in the thick of Covid lockdowns. It was difficult to source high-quality raw materials from consistent vendors that were in line with our company commitment to being organic and eco-friendly. Minimizing the impact of residual shipping costs on our final customer pricing required deliberate effort. Luckily, we managed to find partners in the last calendar year who have brought stability to our operations.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
My Sickle Cell Disease. Sometimes I experience unplanned downtimes, and my medications can impact the quality of my decision-making, so I avoid making big financial calls during these periods. I also stepped away briefly from full-time employment just as the pandemic started in March 2020 – so bootstrapping my business from the start meant some scaling moves had to wait.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Invest in basic research and allow your customers to be co-creators in your products. Having open channels for feedback is pivotal to growth.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I use my own medicine — from lighting one of my candles to creating a new fragrance that uplifts my spirit or clears my mind. I’m also visually stimulated so I watch TV, a YouTube video or spend time on Pinterest.
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Never too much” by Luther Vandross. It’s my self-love song.
Who is your most important role model?
I do not have a role model. I try to find my own answers for situations that I experience by asking people who have gone through those same challenges and have come through the other side. Learning what doesn’t work is as important as learning what does work. But finding your own path from that knowledge is deeply rewarding. ◼