Lots of people dream of owning their own business, but few can say they’ve got them off the ground before the age of 25. Sophie Marcoux, a 24-year-old product manager, has done just that with her new fragrance brand, Ficifolia – all while holding down a full-time job.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Marcoux tells Broadsheet. “As a product manager [who has specialised in skincare] I started to look at perfume as challenge, expression and artform.”

The self-professed “fragrance head” has always collected perfumes during her travels; one spray and she’s transported right back to her favourite destinations, she says. But during Melbourne’s lockdowns, Marcoux found herself craving the scents of local comforts, such as brunch with friends. She noticed a gap in the market for a perfume that evoked memories of Melbourne – or any Australian city for that matter. That’s how Ficifolia, an ode to the relaxed Australian lifestyle, was born.

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The name comes from the red flowering gum Corymbia ficifolia found in south-west Australia, whose scent reminds Marcoux of growing up in Perth.

Ficifolia’s debut collection features three perfumes – housed in elegant glass vessels with white bulbed lids – capturing experiences familiar to many Melburnians: something Marcoux calls “reverse-engineered scent memories”.

Out of Office is “the sweetest, fruitiest of the bunch”, she says. Inspired by after-work Aperol Spritzes on the Yarra, it features notes of mandarin, rose, patchouli, jasmine, musk and fairy floss. Rose Street is inspired by vintage shopping in hip Fitzroy, combining rich oud and white musk with rose, raspberry, rhubarb and peach. Intermission is an earthy love letter to Melbourne nightlife. It’s the most gender-neutral of the bunch, with notes of vetiver, sandalwood, fir needle and citrus. For a finishing touch, there’s an illustration based on each theme visible inside the bottle – and on the compostable box it arrives in.

The line is crafted by a small-batch perfume manufacturer in Sydney, while the branding is a collaborative effort with Melbourne’s Lize Designs. Everything else, from content creation to packaging, is managed by Marcoux, who already has plans for a Sydney-themed release, with more cities to come.

Since choosing a fragrance can be a very subjective, personal experience, Ficifolia offers a try-before-you-commit service. Each full-size bottle comes with a two-millilitre sample; if you’re not a fan, you can send the bottle back for a full refund. If you want to try all three first, there’s also a Flight Deck sampler ($39.99) that comes with a redeemable code for your purchase.

Full-size 100-mil bottles are $189.95 each, or $489.99 for the trio. Five dollars from every bottle sold is donated to the Stars Foundation, which helps support young Indigenous women through high school, tertiary education and full-time work.

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