Influencer Chriselle Lim on launching a viral fragrance phenomenon

·3-min read
Photo credit: Phlur
Photo credit: Phlur

You might not have smelt a Phlur fragrance yet, given that its UK launch date comes later this month – but chances are you’ve seen the brand, or heard of it.

“It is a series of my personal experiences expressed through scent,” its creative director ­– the American mega-influencer and entrepreneur, Chriselle Lim – tells Bazaar. “From heartbreak, to discovering myself again, to defining who I am.” The former wardrobe stylist-turned-YouTube star (with a following of more than five million across her various channels) might not have the most relatable lifestyle but, as she says, “these are all universally shared experiences and emotions that most people go through at some point”. In bottling them she collaborated with some famed fine fragrance perfumers, and the results have proved meaningful for many beyond anticipation.

This is especially true of Missing Person, a floral musk composed by Constance Georges-Picot that set TikTok alight and subsequently sold out in five hours, leaving a waitlist of more than 200,000. “It was incredibly overwhelming; we weren’t expecting or planning for our first fragrance to go viral,” Lim says. “Traditionally, people need to smell fragrance before purchasing,” she points out, “and the fact that we were not in any stores or counters at the time when we launched, really proved to us that strong storytelling can be very powerful”. With social media now amplifying word-of-mouth beauty recommendations like never before, Phlur was adopted by a community wanting to feel – and heal – through fragrance alongside Lim.

This scented chapter of the brand speaks to Lim’s separation from her husband, though it is symbolic of anyone significant that you can no longer smell in human form. “While the inspiration for Missing Person was my own personal story of heartbreak and the longing for someone or a specific moment in time, the scent itself is rooted in this idea of the warmth in someone’s skin. I wanted to bottle that feeling up – a light, airy but still musky scent. Something that can be openly interpreted and relatable for everyone.” Indeed, we all have a missing person in our lives, she notes. “Whether it be a best friend, a lover, or a grandmother. The beauty of the fragrance is that it’s inherently nostalgic and emotionally takes people back to a moment in time.”

Lim’s not exaggerating when she says the perfume “became therapy to people on TikTok” – with users claiming it can evoke emotional flashbacks. “The fragrance allowed them to talk about who they missed or the emotions they’ve been going through.”

No doubt it will be met with a stampede here next week when it launches into Selfridges (so, for anyone not wanting to miss out, a waitlist is now live). Come 12 September you’ll also be able to shop the brand’s nine other scents, including the newest launch, Somebody Wood; naturally, such sell-out success has encouraged Lim to further share her stories and “to continue to create beautiful products that have so much meaning and emotion behind them”.

Alongside juggling her other businesses (a childcare service and a creative studio) as well as mothering two young children, Phlur will evolve as Lim’s story does, she adds. Fragrance, the 47-year-old believes, can be an extension of our selves. “It allows us to communicate a mood, elevate a vibe, and it can help us express who we are... or who we want to be.” Whatever way you look at it, we smell success.

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