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LUMIRA Commemorates a Decade of Sensory Travel

Published November 23, 2023
Published November 23, 2023

In the world of home fragrance, there are some simply seeking a modestly packaged scent that is simply there, perhaps to mask household odors or cast a delicate glow into the room when it gets dark. For true connoisseurs, candles are just as highly prized and evaluated as a fine fragrance: complex creations that are part interior design object, part mood maker—be it a sultry oud creation for cold winter nights or an invigorating floral to announce the arrival of spring. Much like flowers in the warmer months, the global luxury candle market is blossoming, valued at $497.7 million in 2022 and expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1% over the next seven years according to a report by Grand Review Research. It is this category of enthusiasts that the Australian luxury fragrance brand LUMIRA has successfully been speaking to over the past decade, stocked at esteemed retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Lane Crawford, and Joyce Beauty. 

Founder Almira Armstrong began the enterprise as a small batch candle company of candles made with coconut soy wax and using sustainably sourced ingredients operating from her own kitchen. Beginning her professional journey as a fashion publicist and marketer, working for Diesel, KU Enterprises, and Sun Studio, Armstrong was first bitten by the entrepreneurial bug in 2010, when she set up the online fashion store Love Conviction. When the travel that came with working in the international business of fashion collided with her longstanding love of fragrance, the concept of LUMIRA was born in an attempt to capture the memories of the places she had visited.

Together with a Sydney, Australia perfumer, she developed the four candles that became the 2013 debut collection of the brand: Tuscan Fig (with notes of fig leaves, fig tree, blackcurrant, cedarwood, iris, and musk); Persian Rose (mandarin, bergamot, orange, rose, geranium, patchouli, amber); Balinese Ylang Ylang (thyme, black pepper, black orchid, jasmine, ylang ylang, sandalwood, vanilla bean, incense,  vetiver), and Cuban Tobacco (cardamom, clove, mahogany, vanilla, tobacco). Today, the Destination Collection range of candles encompasses 14 scents in total, including destinations such as the Amalfi Coast (with the creation Paradiso del Sole), Provence (Cyprès de Provence), and Sydney’s artistic neighbourhood of Surry Hills (No. 352 – Leather & Cedar).

Given the complexity of these home fragrance creations, it was only a matter of time before the brand gave its loyal following new formats of exploration: interior sprays, perfume oils—packaged in 10ml roller balls in violet glass to protect the fragrance from UV rays which break down the product—and parfums. The latter saw the introduction of two new scents: Bois d’Epices and Desert Nights. Bois d’Epices imagines a boat travelling down the coast of Zanzibar with a spicy citrus floral mix of grapefruit, lemon, rose, amber, orris, and oud. Desert Nights pays homage to the nighttime sky in Marrakech with a heady warm blend of saffron, honey, leather, jasmine, sandalwood, and oud. In May, LUMIRA expanded its offerings even further into body care with the debut of a hand wash and body lotion, presented in refillable glass bottles.

Armstrong wasn’t just interested in creating beauty for beauty’s sake, but instead using it as a catalyst to do better. In 2022, she launched the LUMIRA Light the Way Forward initiative, informed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the hopes of becoming an industry leader for ethical and sustainable resource management, labor, and production practices. This includes the company’s vegan and cruelty-free formulas devoid of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, palm oil, and phosphate; Sedex accreditation for improving working conditions in global supply chains; using 100% recyclable packaging and a solar energy-powered office; donating $1 from every transaction to an NGO; and creating three bespoke candles in collaboration with Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, with 20% of each sale being donated directly to the enterprise to support its science and conservation work. 

To commemorate its 10 years and counting of olfactory exploration, the perfume house opened its first flagship on Oxford Street in the heart of Sydney—a bright and light space of cream colored walls, light chevron-panelled wood flooring, and camel-colored marbled plinths displaying its fragranced offerings of perfume, home fragrance, and body care. Much like its products, the retail space allows the mind and nose to travel.

BeautyMatter sat down with Armstrong to discuss definitions of luxury, authentic alignment, and the upcoming scent journeys for the year ahead.

The brand ethos is rooted in the connection of scent, memory, experience, and love. Where did your own love of fragrance begin?

I’ve always said that fragrance is my first love. Although I grew up in Australia, my family would often visit relatives in Europe. Over time, I began to connect it with my love of travel and the beauty of the natural environment. I became entranced by the different scents that I’d experience in places like Italy or France. While studying marketing at university, I taught myself to make candles and loved experimenting with different fragrances. After working and living overseas for several years, I wanted to connect all of these passions into one brand, and that is how LUMIRA began. 

How did your international background in PR and marketing inform building the LUMIRA business?

I was fortunate to have the opportunity in some of my roles to live and work in many cities around the world. This, in turn, enabled a deep understanding of cultural nuances and preferences, allowing for the creation of fragrances that resonate with diverse global markets. It also inspired many of our scents. Additionally, understanding how important it was to create a strong brand identity using quality, sustainability, and authenticity at the forefront of our brand pillars was key to driving our business. Lastly, I would also add that the relationship building over the years from many industries played a pivotal role in contributing to our success.

How would you define luxury in 2023, and has your definition of the concept changed over time?

The notion of luxury is akin to a sense of peace of mind—a comfort in the knowledge that a purchase meets a set of criteria and expectations. LUMIRA was conceived as a direct response to this evolving set of criteria. Recognizing that savvy and conscious consumers are prioritizing brands that deliver comprehensive integrity across sustainability, impact, and provenance—in addition to long-established principles of quality, design, and authenticity. 

What has been the key to growing your brand over the past decade amidst such a competitive market? How have you approached scaling the business?

Over the past decade, the key to success for our business has been about differentiation, a clear understanding of what sets us apart from competitors. Our exceptional product quality, bold design, storytelling, sustainability, and authenticity are core to our brand and have played a key role in our growth. Our approach has always leaned toward the patient and deliberate, a long-term vision where we play the enduring "slow game." In our journey, we've been discerning in selecting partners who share our brand ethos and values, believing in the profound importance of authentic alignment. This strategy has steered our growth, forging alliances built on shared convictions and nurturing an ecosystem that resonates with our core principles.

"The notion of luxury is akin to a sense of peace of mind—a comfort in the knowledge that a purchase meets a set of criteria and expectations."

What was the design concept and aesthetic for the store space?

We designed the boutique in-house, and I wanted to create a space that was immersive and inviting for our customers to spend time with our brand and consultants. The boutique is a graceful addition to the Oxford Street landscape in Sydney, and its historic shop front entices customers to pause and explore the fragrances within. Inside, we used a palette of timber and cream. This elevated restraint allows our fragrances to leave a singular imprint on the customers' minds. With each scent artfully blended to evoke the essence of a different global destination, there’s a sensorial journey to inspire all imaginations. 

What unique offerings can shoppers find at your flagship?

At our boutique, we take a meticulously curated approach, fostering an immersive and enchanting experience for our cherished customers. Our commitment to excellence is showcased through an array of personalized services, including fragrance consultations, meticulously crafted gift wrapping, and delightful gifts with purchase. Our dedicated consultants hold quality and craftsmanship in the highest regard, elevating each visit into a sensorial journey through our store. Looking ahead to 2024, we will unveil a captivating calendar of in-store experiences. These will encompass engaging workshops, exciting product launches, and exclusive partnerships—all designed to further enrich the unique world we offer within our space.

What do you look for in a collaborator and stockist?

When we are seeking collaborators and stockists for our business, it's paramount that we consider a set of vital criteria to ensure a productive and harmonious partnership. First and foremost, the alignment with our brand's values, mission, and image is crucial. Additionally, assessing the reputation and credibility of prospective collaborators and stockists is essential as their standing in the industry can reflect positively on our brand. 

Furthermore, for stockists, the ability to efficiently handle inventory and distribution is crucial, and assessing their customer service quality is important as it can directly impact our brand's reputation. Flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances and a shared commitment to ethical and sustainable practices are qualities we look for.

What perfumer do you work with on the scents?

We collaborate with a diverse array of talented perfumers from around the world. At present, I am thrilled to announce that we are in the final stages of crafting two exquisite fragrances set to make their debut in 2024. Our first fragrance, slated for release in May, is a result of a creative partnership with Frank Voelkl of Firmenich, and it draws its inspiration from the vibrant energy of Tokyo. I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of this exceptionally beautiful scent and am excited to share it with you.

What have been your best sellers? Are these different according to region or universal across the board?

Universally our Cuban Tobacco and Arabian Oud have achieved remarkable acclaim, standing as our best sellers globally. These two scents, distinguished by their exquisite uniqueness and sophisticated allure, have captured the hearts of fragrance enthusiasts worldwide.  My current favorite is the Tuscan Fig Perfume Oil. This scent suits any season and occasion; it has a freshness that cuts through the fig’s traditionally sweet and milky scent. Plus, the Perfume Oils are so easy to throw in my handbag and apply on the go.  

How are you looking to expand the brand over the coming years in terms of distribution but also product offerings and activations?

In the upcoming year, we're poised to unveil two exquisite Eau de Parfum creations, while our commitment to expanding our Bath & Body line remains unwavering. The global stage is our canvas as we further our presence in the dynamic markets of Asia and the United States. In parallel, we're strategically forging partnerships with key retailers across Europe in 2024, adding to our global footprint. Adding to the excitement, an upcoming collaboration in late 2024 will ignite activations not only in Australia but also on a global scale, creating some noise of anticipation in various corners of the world.


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