NEW YORK — Conventional wisdom has always been that selling fragrance on the Internet is challenging.
But a Denver-based company called Ilona is proving that loyal customers will buy a scent without sniffing it first. The company has created a Website dedicated to its first fragrance called Within. “We found so many people are touched by my mother’s [Ilona] story that there was interest in a fragrance,” said Robert Makari, chief executive officer of Ilona Inc. His mother carved out a niche in skin care with her SkinCare Institute in Denver, which became famous for facials.
But the goal was always to delve into fragrance, too. “Fragrance is in my background since we used to sit around the dinner table talking about fragrance. It took a long time for us to do it because we wanted to do it right,” said Makari. He feels that education is just as important as smelling a fragrance. “The Internet is pivotal in educating consumers.”
The decision was made to launch Within on the Web at an address called withinfragrance.com. Industry sources estimate the scent could reach first-year sales of $6 million to $8 million.
The fragrance collection includes an eau de parfum, a candle, body lotions and gift sets. Prices range from $42 for the 6-oz. body lotion to $85 for a three-piece gift set. The withinfragrance.com site will be integrated into the firm’s e-commerce ilona.com site this Thanksgiving.
In addition to skin care and fragrance, Ilona also expanded into cosmetics. The company even offers hand-drawn color swatches that it sends to those who express interest online. Plans call for rolling Ilona out to select retail distribution and the European market.