The Scent of Sweet Success

How this woman succeeded in the fragrance business with her modern approach

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Bernadette Lim, the co-founder of BC Fragrance was already exposed to their family business at an early age. Her parents own a chemical company that supplies raw materials to different industries such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. When her parents started importing fragrances for local manufacturers of perfumes, colognes, and other personal care products, she started to develop a passion for fragrances.
Bernadette grew up helping her parents in the office and sometimes even cleaning the lab every summer. What’s supposed to be a season of rest and recreation for most of her peers became labor season for her as she finds herself working for a summer job in their family business. Later on, she realized what big help it was for her because that was how she’s built her entrepreneurial skills and attitude towards work.

"Back in the early 2000s, my parents started importing fragrances for local manufacturers of perfumes, colognes, and other personal care products. My parents would bring home samples from the office and of course, being nosy teenagers, my sister and I would use them, not knowing that these encounters with scents would play a significant role in our future careers."

Bernadette took up a degree in Business Management at The Ateneo de Manila University and graduated in 2007. Back then, she wanted to take a break after graduation and didn’t actively look for a job immediately, but she set a deadline for herself that she’ll start looking for a job after August. God had made other plans, though. June of that year, her dad invited her to attend a meeting set up by the French Embassy’s Chamber of Commerce. Her parents’ company was going to be interviewed as a potential distributor of a French Fragrance Manufacturer. A month after, her parents’ company was appointed as the distributor of that company, at the same time she was also offered a position by her dad in their business. That’s when her journey to becoming a fragrance specialist started. 

"A month after, my parents' company was appointed as the distributor of that company and I was invited by my dad to join the company. I could have said no but because I loved scents, I said yes thinking that I'd be the next Joel Cruz. BOY WAS I SO WRONG. I basically became a fragrance saleswoman - but not the one you find in the malls. I basically sold fragrances in drums to manufacturers of personal care products, colognes and perfumes, soaps, detergents, and fabric softeners."

Her role in the family’s business allowed her to learn more about business organization and improve her skills in administrative, merchandising, and basic marketing. However, she realized back then that she didn’t know anything about scent formulations and chemistry. After a few weeks, she decided to diligently study the science behind it and proper sales and marketing. She flew to the US to further pursue her knowledge about fragrances and later on became a Certified Fragrance Specialist.

"In December of 2008, my dad asked me to make some perfumes and use those as Christmas gifts for our company's customers instead of buying more expensive gifts. And that I did excitedly! It was finally something that involved some sort of creativity! Having spent one-year selling fragrances to manufacturers who just wanted copies of scents used by Multi-national brands, I was starting to itch to make something different with fragrances. That Christmas season, I purchased empty bottles, cleared out a table in my parents' storage room, and made perfumes. I also dressed up the perfumes a bit, making them easily giftable with handmade bags and a nice label."

BC Fragrance

In January 2009, the people they gifted with perfumes she made started re-ordering and became interested in reselling her perfumes. That’s how Bernadette’s entrepreneurial journey began and BC Fragrance was born.
Soon after, she found herself in exhibits and bazaars, and online shopping platforms including Sulit.com and Multiply. She was also featured in numerous media publications such as Mega and Preview and in one of the Philippines’ biggest news and entertainment networks, GMA.
In 2017, after giving birth to her daughter, She established Scentful Living, a home fragrance brand dedicated to #ScentfulMamas who want to create a healthy and happy home using scents that are beneficial to the well-being.
In 2019, Bernadette founded Scent Studio by BC Fragrance, an informal place for individuals to LEARN, PLAY and EXPERIENCE different and unique smells that they can experiment with and create their very own, customized scent.
Today, BC Fragrance is a well-recognized supplier of fragrances for MSMEs. As a professional perfumer, Bernadette is recognized as one of the most professional and reliable partners for fragrance development services, a leading professional in scent branding for hotels and retail stores, and a sought-out teacher in Perfumery courses in the Philippines.
After a decade in the business, Bernadette realized that her passion not just lies in the fragrances itself but also in influencing product makers to appreciate fragrances more and how something intangible like scents can help their brand through fragrance education. Because of this, She started her Fragrance101 workshops. When she began with the course, it was just a 2-hr meeting with those who simply wanted to learn about scents. Eventually, the Fragrance101 Live course became a whole-day affair.
Last October 2020, she did the first-ever run of the 8-session Artisan Perfumery course through the School of Fashion and Arts (SoFA). She also started the ScentrePinoy Business Course + Mentorship Program for those interested in starting their fragrance/home scents/candle businesses.

"My goal has always been to provide affordable, high-quality fragrances for both the Filipino consumer and product maker and to help business owners in strengthening their brand using scents."

BC Fragrance is one of the very few suppliers in the Philippines that has an in-house professional perfumer, Bernadette, who can design scents for local brands, manufacturers, and even properties. Because of this, they are able to work closely with clients in terms of the specific direction that they want to create by giving them  a unique scent profile for their products and spaces.
Bernadette’s background and experience as a Certified Fragrance Specialist enabled her to curate and provide the best quality of fragrances, essential oils, natural carriers, and other product makers’ materials.

Lessons learned from working in the family business 

Bernadette mentioned that one of her biggest obstacles was working with her family. According to her, working with family is both a blessing and a curse. In her 14 years working with her family, she said she was lucky enough to be guided and mentored by her father in her business journey. Her family has always been supportive of her when it comes to her career. However, there were days when working with family can also be frustrating, especially when issues arise and you have different perspectives; the generational gap also comes into play. Having these challenging experiences, Bernadette learned to work with people who have different personalities, which also made her a better leader and role model to her team.

"Eventually, I learned how to work with my family, and I'm pretty sure it's the same as how you work with coworkers and bosses in any other company. You learn about what makes each one tick, what your similarities are, and focus on things you can do together that can contribute to the betterment of the company."

Bernadette also believes that this experience has taught her the value of family and how to treat their customers as not just clients but also as business partners and as part of the family.

Prioritize. Focus. Repeat.

"When I was younger, I had this notion that in order to be productive and impactful, you have to be busy. I learned the hard way that being a busybody or working long hours doesn't necessarily mean you are getting things done and that you're making significant progress. I've always lived by this principle by the popular author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey-- Prioritize. Focus. Repeat. Thus, I've become much more efficient and don't waste much time on things that don't contribute to reaching my goals. Be smart in deciding what's important and do the important things"

BC Fragrance is now recognized as one of the premier suppliers of high-quality fragrances & aroma chemicals for perfumery, personal care, household, and industrial products, including phthalate-free and hypoallergenic fragrances in the Philippines.
Several hotels and properties have likewise used their fragrances since 2011. The Bellevue Hotels Group, Ramada Manula Central, Ortigas & CO. showrooms, Hotel Centro in Puerto Princesa, and Azalea Residences nationwide are just some of their clients who have created the perfect ambiance in their hotels and spaces using BC Fragrance’s custom-blended scents and cost-effective scenting system specially designed for their properties.
BC Fragrance received various prestigious awards since 2011, including “2020 Leading Premium Quality Lifestyle Perfumery and Fragrance Company.” 

A great business system, a reliable team, and the birth of another business

Like most of us, Bernadette also has her battles during this Covid-19 season. According to her, when the pandemic started, she’s been having bouts of anxiety attacks. So, she decided to take a step back from day-to-day operations. She cut down her work hours and gave time to take care of herself and her family first. 

"We're now in the midst of our second lockdown and I haven't been to the office in more than 2 weeks, yet my business is still running even without me physically being there. I am most proud of creating a reliable team that shares the same vision as I do and establishing a system to ensure the business will continue to run even without me. We sure still have a long way to go and there's still a lot of work to be done but I know that we're going in the right direction."

Bernadette’s self-care routine includes meditation and yoga. She has also been actively working out since the pandemic. Because of this, her closet and daily uniform have been overtaken by workout wear. So, she figured sharing the brand of her choice here in the Philippines through her new venture LuxeDaily.PH.  This brand will be carrying the new premium athleisure brand from the US, called SAVVI

Tips for women who want to succeed in life, work, and business

Bernadette’s journey as a fragrance specialist and mentor has inspired many women to follow their dreams and rise above every challenging situation. Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, but the journey is all worth it when you find the scent of sweet success within you. So, here are Bernadette’s tips for women who want to start and grow their dream business:
1) Be grateful everyday 
No matter how your day went. Be grateful to God, your family, the people who work with you, the people who rely on you, those who buy from you, and even your business partners. Be grateful for learning experiences.
2) Before starting or doing anything
Always be clear with your WHY. Why are you starting a business? Why are you working so hard? Everything else will follow when you get clear on your reason and goal.
3) Do things at your own pace. 
Don’t compare yourself to others. Continue to be inspired by people in business but never ever compare yourself to whoever it is you might be jealous of. It will only lead to self-doubt and it will derail you from reaching your goals. Remember that all of us lead different lives and live in different circumstances. Be clear with your goals and just do what works for you and your family.
4) Just breathe.
To fellow mompreneurs, I know this is a hard time for all of us. When it feels like everything is becoming too much, reach out for help from your husband, your family, from your friends. Take a break and breathe easy – you deserve every second of it. Everything will be okay.

Coming Up

BC Fragrance collaborated with SoFA Design Institute in running the Artisan Perfumery Course. With the success of their first run last October and gaining lots of positive feedback, people are excited to know when the next run will be. So, let me be one of the firsts to spill the good news, there will be a second run coming up from April 26 to May 21. Enrollment will open soon so head over to this >> link< < to request for more details.
BC Fragrance will also be launching the Reed Diffuser Online Course soon! For more information on Workshops, you may register on this >> link<<.
If you’re into wellness, yoga, and staying fit, there’s LuxeDaily.PH.  We’re excited for the launch of Bernadette’s new venture where we can get the comfiest premium athleisure wear from SAVVI clothing, USA.
Scentful Living and Scent Studio Products are available online through https://scentstudio.bcfragrance.com/ and SM Online App. Their physical stores are located in Tomas Morato, Fisher Mall in Quezon City, and SM North Towers.

Follow Bernadette and her passion for fragrance and wellness

Nira Macaspac

Nira Macaspac

Nira is a a brand strategist, startup coach and an advocate of women empowerment.
She is also an educator and a digital media publisher. She has worked as a content producer for different digital media publications in Asia and the Philippines such as Marketing in Asia, Manila Bulletin, StyleMNL, and When in Manila. She has coached several women about branding, personal, and professional development. Visit her website at http://www.niramacaspac.com

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