Niegel de Alwis and Kimberly Xavier are travel bugs. However, smelling fresh on-the-go is hard to do when your only option is lugging around heavy, cumbersome, and fragile perfume bottles.
Somewhere in between that struggle and finding scents that suited them, Alwis & Xavier was born.
Alwis & Xavier (a combination of both founders’ surnames) was established when these two lovers of perfumes and colognes wanted an alternative to the traditional form and packaging.
After much research into the Malaysian market, they found that solid colognes were a relatively untapped market.
“What we aimed to do was make our colognes affordable to encourage trial and adoption,” explained Kimberly Xavier.
Modern Solutions To Old Problems
“Solid colognes resounded so well with us because we were keen users of perfumes as well. Therefore, it was easy to note the common pain points with traditional colognes, and cater to our target market this way,” Niegel continued.
Following this, both founders then went on to illustrate the difficulties they had freshening up after a long day of work to meet a friend, or when travelling without purchasing check-in luggage options and then having cologne bottles confiscated at the airport.
“Seeing a huge opportunity, we decided to come up with a more convenient form of cologne. One that could be slipped into a pocket, clutch, gym-bag or other carry-ons and be applied anytime, anywhere,” continued Niegel.
Yet, it’s not just about the portability.
According to Niegel and Kimberly, solid colognes are spill-proof and more durable, which means they don’t break or shatter when accidentally dropped.
“The switch from conventional perfumes to solid colognes is a no-brainer, and we really want to let our products speak for themselves this way,” emphasised Kimberly.
Fresher Scents For All
“We currently have a range of scents which cater to different users, from those who prefer a naturally lighter, fresh scent to those who prefer something more complex and stronger,” Kimberly elaborated.
All of Alwis & Xavier’s scents are individually handcrafted and hand poured to ensure quality and consistency.
At the moment of writing, Alwis & Xavier has 8 available scents officially for sale, which all cost RM55 each.
They’re available via online delivery and through physical stockists around Klang Valley, Penang, and just recently, Singapore.
If you’re thinking that handmade solid cologne is nothing new, however, you’re right.
But for a quick price comparison, the cheapest solid cologne you’ll find on The Apothecary Malaysia costs RM60, so Alwis & Xavier’s definitely do come a little cheaper.
As for how Alwis & Xavier come up with new scents, Kimberly explained, “The inspiration for our scents mainly come from the flavour profiles we learnt Malaysians have come to love. This includes Theos and Old Mandarin, with their citrusy notes, and Cypress, with its fresh floral profile.”
She also believes in targeting customers from all walks of life, saying, “Our customers vary quite vastly, so from the younger to more mature, we have scents that cater to everyone.”
When asked about the process of making these solid colognes, Niegel went into exhaustive detail.
“The process encompasses a number of steps: from heating the raw ingredients to a specific temperature, hand-pouring them into individual tins and then rapidly cooling them.”
After, the colognes are then packaged properly and delivered to local and international stockists.
Juggling Full-Time Work & Entrepreneurship
At the very beginning of Alwis & Xavier, Niegel explained that all operations were done right out of his kitchen.
However, Niegel stressed the importance of streamlining this process.
“Once we saw the reception towards the colognes, we quickly realised we had outgrown the kitchens. Now, we have a dedicated office area solely allocated for production and testing new scents.”
To this date, both Niegel and Kimberly still have full-time, nine to five jobs that they attend.
After that’s over, it’s back to getting busy with growing the business.
On a day-to-day basis, both founders work in sync trying to find new ideas for scents, ensure all their stockists are fully stocked, and managing orders from the website.
“Both of us handle everything from ideation to social media management and product development. Everything you see is done by us—aside from working with a freelance graphic designer and a small team of helpers who assist with packaging and sending products to the retailers,” explained Kimberly.
Besides attending bazaars and selling in stores, Alwis & Xavier looks to digital marketing to promote their products.
Recently, they have been experimenting with social media influencers to get the word out.
“We really believe that the sky is the limit for us. Being a new brand, we have so many markets we look to expand to, both in and outside of SEA,” Kimberly chimed in.
“In addition, we are working on a new product range aside from solid colognes that we hope to launch somewhere in 2020.”