Divya Gugnani on her Fifth Venture as an Entrepreneur: 5 SENS
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
Fragrance and I have been in an inconsistent, on-again-off-again relationship for as long as I can remember. From the duty-free perfume souvenirs my dad would haul back from his abroad business trips for my mother, to savoring my very first signature scent at the age of 16 to the very last spritz, fragrance has always been something laden with love. But, just as my fragrance fling was reaching its peak and I had graduated from a singular scent to a painstakingly crafted personal collection – an autoimmune disease threw a spanner in the works. Suddenly, I developed a serious amount of allergies as well as some severe reactions to my once-loved beauty stash and accumulated perfumes.
At this point, my only choice was to start from square one. When met with limited options on my healing journey, I made a choice to make my own space in the beauty world – co-founding the brand Wander Beauty to specialize in creating effortless, clean essentials that you can reach for every day, wherever you wander. I was enamored and inspired by the world of clean makeup and skincare, but my long-lost liaison with fragrance was still on my mind.
The catalyst for my head-over-heels free fall into the world of perfume was a 5 day trip to Paris and a subsequent meeting with a friend’s mother who – to put it plainly – smelled absolutely amazing. And on the second day (and the third, fourth, fifth!) I found a heavenly smell radiating off of her over and over again in totally different ways. I realized that the enigmatic air about her that seemed to always effortlessly embody the current mood – a walk along the Seine, red wine-stained dinners, a cappuccino on the go – wasn’t just captured in her revolving wardrobe or hairdos but it solely lied within her scent. Equipped with the right fragrance, she punctuated every occasion with her aura and tethered each moment to an unmistakable mood. And just like that, my idea of personal fragrance was revolutionized forever.
In my 5th venture as an entrepreneur, 5 SENS represents a well-rounded, truly sensory experience that goes beyond the boundaries of traditional perfume. This is fragrance reimagined, made to capture your ever-changing energy and inspire endless moments. In the end, I’m glad to say I can (finally) wake up and smell the roses (and the citrus’ and gourmands and the musk).
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I love connecting with other female entrepreneurs. I am a huge believer in peer mentorship and building networks to help grow and build personally and professionally.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve now founded and led five incredible companies but the creation of 5 SENS has been the type of brand I’ve dreamt of bringing to life the longest. A luxurious fragrance brand that is inspired by my roots yet perfectly captures the ever-evolving auras of myself and others who inspire me that make life so special and memorable. With an incredibly talented team at 5 SENS, we were able to turn this vision into a reality. Being a child of Indian immigrants, I grew up in a rich culture where I was constantly immersed in the experience of scent. Incense, aromatic spices and luxurious oils and perfumes inspired me as a child. Inspired by my roots, I continue to be infatuated by the way that different fragrance notes mix together into something completely new, and have a special ability to enhance, capture, and immortalize our moments and memories. A fine fragrance experience that truly ignites all of our senses, from the intoxicating and complex aroma of our signature eau de parfums, to the texture of the packaging, the visual representation of our auras, and even the music in our brand videos…we wanted to create a revolution within fragrance that fully immersed you in a sensory experience. I have always loved the art and science of developing beauty products, but I truly obsessed over these formulas. They couldn’t just check a box, they had to be sensational in efficacy, complexity, and ethically. Ensuring that 5 SENS eau de parfums are made with purpose to better our community and planet, formulated clean and produced sustainably is a top priority for me—I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and developed severe chemical allergies that made it impossible for me to wear many of the perfumes that I loved. This became the inspiration behind my fifth entrepreneurial journey, 5 SENS. We created 5 SENS to ignite your senses, capture your essence, and inspire you to own your energy. Imagine your aura, emboldened, and your current mood, bottled.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. I was never the kid selling lemonade in the neighborhood but it goes to show that entrepreneurship can take many shapes and forms.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We are doing a soft launch and will be taking a 360 degree flywheel approach to marketing for the full launch in 2023- everything from education to live events/experiences to digital marketing and influencer/press activities.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
Creating complex fragrances that LAST and are good for you and good for the planet was a HUGE challenge.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Being featured in a global American Express campaign. It was a pinch me moment.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe you can have it all but not at the same time! I believe in time blocking and dedicating time to working and being a mom but not having those time blocks overlap much!
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
Just do it. The best way to learn is to DO! Also. network to get work.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
Launched 5 SENS!!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Over the next few years you can see me building and growing a portfolio of fine fragrances that capture your mood in a bottle.