Prestige (Malaysia)



Aien Mokhtar and James Chong are well acquainted with the sweet smell of success. The co-founders of OLFAC3 Perfumes met in 2014 when A ien worked in publishing, and James had an interest i n launching a book on tattoos. “The book didn’t happen, and she l ater left that job, but when she f i r st shared s ome of her creations with me, I thought, ‘Wow! This is g reat; it should be shared with people,’” James recalls.

The enter prising couple identif ied a gap in the local perfume market with the absence of orig inal creators. “I want people to have access to orig inal creations because we are all unique,” A ien explains.

Recognisin­g they were on the cusp of something special, the couple took of f on a whirlwind tour to some of the world’s most exot ic perfume dest inat ions, including Spain, France, Greece and Turkey. It was a journey to help A ien discover inspiratio­n on the k ind of scents she could create. “She has always been creating perfumes for herself, so it was good to know what is out there,” James asserts.

When they returned, OLFAC3 Perfumes was born. “The name plays on the ‘olfactor y’ sense and refers t o t he art of perfume-making where there are three main classes – the top, heart and base notes,” James details. He current ly leads the brand’s strateg y, commercial, and marketing concepts, while A ien is the chief nose behind allur ing scents.

Eight years i nto their relationsh­ip and six years into business together, James proclaims, “The business has to catch up to the love!” He remains A ien’s most ardent supporter and cheerleade­r. “She has real talent. When I smell her creations, I feel a certain way and remember certain things,” he descr ibes af fect ionately.

The company presented its first series, the Rose, i n June 2016 as a tribute to prolific women in history. “OLFAC3 was created out of my love for creating original perfumes. I wanted to share that love with those who feel the same way, and I see the need to make premium and original luxury perfumes available and accessible to all,” Aien elaborates. Today, OLFAC3 creates bespoke perfumes for individual­s and private labels for brands that want to create something unique or inspired by a concept they would like to translate into a novel scent.

According to James, work ing with his sig nif icant other is challeng ing but great. “Both of us know that we are in it together. It’s not about the money but something we want to build. Regardless of arguments or dif ferences in opinion, we are united in a common cause, acting in the best interest of the business.”

Aien concurs, affirming that they share the same vision while acknowledg­ing that she is a creator. “My work is a showcase of my heart, and James is the head. He balances me out, and I need that because otherwise, I would be like many artists – driven purely by my creative pursuits. I’m not financiall­y savvy and loathe looking at numbers, and that is where James bridges the gap.”

“We complement each other well,” James agrees. He considers the dif ferences in their v iews and personalit y as a hidden streng th. “She wi l l see things from her perspectiv­e that I don’t and v ice versa,” he adds.

James also cites the importance of listening and trusting each other in business and l ove. “Sometimes you might have to acknowledg­e having no experience or understand­ing in what your partner is say ing, but you have to tr ust their inst inct. Trust is important.”

The couple lights up when asked about their par tner’s streng th i n the business. “A ien’s best trait is her ar t ist’s spir it. When she’s explaining her perfume, you can see her whole face light up. She’s in the moment and full of passion – it is not about tr y ing to sell something,” says James. A ien is eager to add, “James’ best trait is his v ision. He can see all the steps you need to take to br ing an idea into rea lit y. He’s a v isionar y. It is quite rare, and I think that is what makes him specia l.”

Despite the business’ rapid and continued growth even through the pandemic, the couple tr ies not to forget to stop and smell the roses. “It’s hard,” James admits, and A ien agrees they are st i l l learning to balance the relat ionship with work.

“I f ind the importance of hav ing a cutof f point which is challeng ing because when you work together, the conversati­on always grav itates towards work. I think it’s l i kely the same for couples with k ids – you always talk about your k ids. For us, our business is our baby,” A ien reasons.

While acknowledg­ing the challenge of putting down her phone and focusing on the relat ionship, the perfumer advocates establishi­ng a time when work discussion­s are limited in favour of qualit y time together. “We tr y, and we are always tr y ing.”

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