Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carolyn Dunne Repp, founder, and owner of Escentuelle, located in Annapolis, MD, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Beyond providing custom perfume that allows my clients to express themselves fully, use scent as a unique personal brand, and step forward with pride and confidence, the experience of creating it helps them explore who they are and what they truly desire from themselves and life. This journey of self-discovery, celebration, and manifestation will soon expand beyond scent into additional forms of creative expression such as jewelry, art, and dance.

Currently, Escentuelle offers one-on-one custom scent experiences and small group parties by appointment remotely (via mail and Zoom), around the DMV, and in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina (where the company was founded). Our ingredients are sourced directly from Grasse, France, the world capital of perfume, to ensure excellent quality and impeccable safety standards. Occasionally, we work with small businesses and solopreneurs on custom scents for their own products--from perfume to candles to soap.

Tell us about yourself

I'd been making perfume as a hobby on and off for over 20 years while working in academic publishing when I realized it was time to start feeding my soul instead of just my bank account. Though I opened Escentuelle in 2015 of my desire to share my love of scent with others, it's the personal relationships that develop with each client interaction and guiding them more fully into who they truly are that makes me grateful to do what I do.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Learning and implementing the less-sexy components of business over the years--analyzing and adjusting as I went--eventually showed me that the only block to success would be me. I understood enough of the psychology of running a business to know that mindset and attitude were incredibly important, but what's not often mentioned is how a life's worth of conditioning and limiting beliefs can stop you, no matter how much positive thinking you apply.

I decided in late 2019 to take a deep dive into what fed into my own mindset and worked with several mentors and a mastermind to surface and rewrite the unhelpful stories that were subconsciously holding me back.

It has been the hardest but most rewarding thing I've ever done. I can now see what's possible on the other side of what's been holding me back: anything and everything I've ever wanted. I'm now using the hard personal work I've done to guide my clients toward figuring out what they truly desire and how to achieve it, using all their senses in creative, joy-filled, and empowering ways.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

People who have never run their own business won't understand you. Despite your loved ones' support and maybe initial excitement for your endeavors, they'll: be confused by your ongoing highs and lows (sometimes both on the same day), wonder when it will all settle down and become "normal," and--if the going gets really tough--whether you're going to get a "real" job at some point. It's hard enough running a business, let alone having people whose opinions you value question why you're even doing it.

If you want to persevere and eventually thrive in your business, it's absolutely crucial to find other entrepreneurs who "get it." Their experience, personal strengths, and similar outlook will provide the support you need, both personally and professionally.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

My top 3 tips, which I often have to remind myself to follow, are:

  1. Market early and way more often than you think you should.
  2. Get in the mind of your customer and speak to them from THEIR point of view--not yours.
  3. Outsource/hire for your weaknesses and any work that doesn't require your total involvement so that you can build your business through your strengths. (This is a hard one for a person who feels capable of doing all of the things. But paying an expert for 1 hour to do something that would take you 4 hours frees not only your time but your brain for the genius work it's meant to do in your business.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Business ownership is harder than most people expect when they start out. It will challenge you at every level: financially, strategically, and emotionally. But if you're open to learning how you tick and, more important, how to rework whatever belief, story, or habit that's holding you back, your reward will be not only an amazing business but an incredible life.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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