Scented Memories of Amna
Amna Al Habtoor, Founder of Arcadia was drawn to the idea of creating a fragrance line that focused on the ‘art’ of scents and fulfilled her vision by crafting unique scents based on the idea of memories and nostalgia. We had an opportunity to talk to Amna and to find out more about her creations under the brand Arcadia and further plans.
Dear Amna, please, tell us, when and why have you decided to create your own fragrance?
I’ve had a passion for perfume from a young age, when I founded my company MASH concepts in 2014, I applied the experience and skills I developed after completing my training as a perfumer and seized the opportunity to fulfill my dream to launch a niche market fragrance brand. I was drawn to the idea of the ‘art’ of scents so I’ve worked closely with some very talented artisans to fulfill my vision of crafting unique scents based on the idea of memories and nostalgia.
Was it an idea of the entire line creation from the very beginning or the whole story of Arcadia had started from one perfume?
The idea of Arcadia was conceptualised when I decided to make a scent for my wedding as a memento to guests. From there I created a scent for the birth of my first-born girl, I then created a scented candle for the birth of my son. Family is very important to me and that is where my inspiration for Arcadia started.
What was the initial fragrance, which had opened the Arcadia collection and why?
We launched Edition 1 in April this year. The gift box contains 10 different scents, each one encapsulating a moment of nostalgia.
So far you have 10 different fragrances in Arcadia, some of them are mainly feminine, others are masculine or unisex. Do you have any personal favorites in this family?
Although each fragrance has their own meaning and flavour, my personal favorite is Number 1, Royal Orchard. I find this fragrance so easy to combine with others, it smells particularly beautiful with Bukhoor. I love how the scent has just the perfect balance of feminine and masculine notes but above all else it is the many fond memories that come rushing back every time I smell it.
Are you going to increase the number of fragrances in Arcadia collection or you are planning to create a different line or lines under Arcadia brand?
I’m very excited about the prospect of increasing the number of fragrances, each one will have a different story associated with different experiences.
Where the brand name “Arcadia” came from? What does it mean to you?
I’ve been passionate about scents from an early age. Now I create perfumes to evoke a sense of nostalgia, I wanted each smell within the Arcadia range to tell its own story inspired by genuine encounters. Scent is one of the most powerful means by which to capture and relive memories, holding the power to transport a person to that moment. When I create a fragrance, it is to be reminded of a place, a time or an emotion that is precious to me.
Each one of Arcadia’s 10-fragrance collection of original, unisex scents is re-writing the rules of gender and cultural boundaries, I wanted to create something for those who dare to defy convention, and I’m delighted to say we’ve grown to become synonymous with quality and ethical cosmetics, crafted from the finest ingredients.
What was your first feeling when you’ve received first fragrance samples and then the ready products?
I was so excited to receive the fragrances; a mix of emotions came over me. I got goosebumps seeing the final product – there was a real sense of pride knowing I had created these beautiful scents and been involved in every stage of the development from the smell, to the design to the finished product. I feel very humbled to know that scents that mean so much to me are being enjoyed by everyone wearing Arcadia.
Who were your main supporters and main authorities on this path?
My father has supported me indefinitely. He taught me strong business practices and gave me the foundation to excel and maximise all opportunities. He pushes me to be the best that I can be, and for that, he has my utmost admiration.
Our lives, culture and traditions revolve around scents, this is true of the past and is a certainty for the future. Our heritage and tradition is exemplified through the burning of Bukhoor which is the essence that is burned to create a scent. We use a lot of Musk, Amber & Oud, today these very strong scents have been modified and taken the scents to a global stage.
What was the most interesting and the most challenging part of the work on Arcadia fragrances?
The most difficult part of working on Arcadia is perfecting the scent and creating the look and feel of the packaging and maintaining the nostalgic feeling of the bottle. The whole process was a challenge however it was an exciting one and I’m very proud of what has been achieved.
Are you proud of the fact, that now we have selective perfumes “Made in UAE”?
Yes. Our lives, culture and traditions revolve around scents, this is true of the past and is a certainty for the future. Our heritage and tradition is exemplified through the burning of Bukhoor which is the essence that is burned to create a scent. We use a lot of Musk, Amber & Oud, today these very strong scents have been modified and taken the scents to a global stage.
What are your further plans?
We have a lot up our sleeves and very excited about the future but for now I’m afraid everyone will have to wait for our next big announcement!
Are you going to present Arcadia regionally and worldwide? If yes, what countries and markets you would like to target first?
Expanding in the GCC is our priority, but we would like to look further afield too, the US, Japan and France are key markets for me.
You already have Arcadia counters in the most popular malls in Dubai. What is a feedback of your clients?
Our clients are loving the feel of the stores and stands we have; we have created the space to reflect the theme of Arcadia which we have accomplished very well.
There are still many skeptical voices worldwide about women’s capability. UAE show us that women entrepreneurs sometimes are even more successful, than men. How do you feel yourself in a very competitive business world, being a young woman from the Arab world?
I feel the competition is high but we are extremely aggressive even though we are still a new niche brand. Running your own business is incredibly hard work and extremely time-consuming, so you must be passionate to physically and mentally devote your talent and time to it.
Where do you see you brand, let’s say, in 10-15 years run from now?
God willing the brand will be a recognised globally. It will be the must have for all women and men!
What you like to do in life, while you are out of the office?
Spend quality time with my children, hanging out with my friends, I like to drive and listening to music.
How you would like your country and the entire world remember you?
I would like everyone to remember me by being a unique perfumer, a mother and just someone who enjoys life and loves to laugh.
N.B. More information about Arcadia collection and purchase options could be found on the official web-site: www.arcadiame.com