Meet the father-and-son duo keeping Qatar fragrant

Meet the father-and-son duo keeping Qatar fragrant
Copyright Richard Ballan
By Mohamed Elashi
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Perfume is one of the most essential fashion accessories of our time. It can represent aspects of one's personality, evoke a memory, or give a subtle insight into one's likes and dislikes.

But even with its long history, the perfume industry often flies under the radar in many countries, despite the market's size. According to strategic market research firm Fortune Business Insights, it was valued at $45.85 billion globally in 2022 and is projected to grow to $69.25 by 2030.

Enter young entrepreneur Mohammed Al Matwi, who co-founded The Perfume Factory in Qatar in 2018.

Qatari Ministry for Sports and Youth
Mohammed Al Matwi co-founded The Perfume Factory in 2018 to revive the country's startup industryQatari Ministry for Sports and Youth

Mohammed's mission is to revolutionise and reinvigorate Qatar's start-up industry by selling handcrafted perfumes, customised home fragrances, sanitisers and body care products.

A family business

'The idea actually came from my father,' Mohammed explains. The young entrepreneur graduated from university with a business degree, while his father, Rashid Al Matwi, is an architect and city planner.

"I was discussing with my dad at our usual Friday lunch. We saw an opportunity to start a family business. And his idea was to initiate a factory that produces "Made in Qatar" perfumes," Mohammed tells SCENES.

Richard Ballan
Aromatherapy and essential oils have long been part of Arabic culture, says co-founder Rashid Al MatwiRichard Ballan

Perfumes and essential oils have always been an integral part of Arabic culture and history. "Qataris love perfume. They love to put on perfume," Rashid says.

Finding success

Local opinion has been a crucial factor in the business's success. Rashid explains: "We produce perfume, and we give it for people to test. We take their impression before we decide to make it."

Testing the market, though, can come with its challenges. Inevitably, not every scent will be popular. But for Mohammed, this provides a significant learning curve.

Richard Ballan
Testing the market is difficult since not all odours are popular, but Mohammed suggests negative feedback may help you prepareRichard Ballan

"Negative comments can give you an understanding of what you are going to face in the future," he observes.

The Perfume factory has grown through trial and error. If feedback on a proposed perfume is good, Mohammed and his father begin the complicated process of manufacturing it to be sold. Each scent is different, and they make tiny percentage changes to the ratios of oil used before finally consistently getting the right smell.

Creating sanitising products

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, The Perfume Factory expanded its range to create sanitising products.

Mohammed explains it was an easy adjustment: "Considering that we are a perfume manufacturing facility, we have almost 90% of the raw material required to manufacture sanitising products."

Richard Ballan
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the Perfume Factory became famous for adding sanitising items as it possessed over 90% of the raw ingredientsRichard Ballan

"We were able to create a variety of collections, more than 30 different smells of sanitisers and in different packs and sizes."

The challenge of operating in a pandemic helped the business take a step forward in terms of development.

Customising perfumes

The Perfume Factory now has a boutique in Qatar's most famous marketplace: Souq Waqif, as well as smaller stores in key metro stations. Mohammed told SCENES that focusing on customer choice and customisation helped its growth.

Richard Ballan
Customers may customise perfume smells at The Perfume FactoryRichard Ballan

"So we started to add different categories that allow people to enjoy the journey of making perfume products. You can customise your own candle and scents for a diffuser or room spray. " Mohammed says.

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Selling to hypermarkets

Mohammed has also teamed up with French hypermarket giant Monoprix, which has stores all over Qatar. Monoprix stocks the entire range of The Perfume Factory's products – from perfumes to sanitiser spray.

Richard Ballan
Mohammed has also teamed up with Monoprix, the famous supermarket chainRichard Ballan

"It's a really smart brand, and we love it. We exported the brand with us in Kuwait," says the hypermarket's Regional General Manager, Sebastian Farhat. "I believe that they have some other opportunities across the GCC. And why not in Europe?" he adds.

'A plan for the future'

Mohammed and his father have more than 200 items in the "Made in Qatar" product range. Despite being confident in their perfumes, even they have been surprised by their success. Mohammed says: "I think the most astonishing thing is when you meet random people in different places, and they express how much they like the product."

But the duo have bigger ambitions for The Perfume Factory. "One of my main personal goals is to expand the brand, especially in Europe," Mohammed tells SCENES.

Richard Ballan
The Perfume Factory plans to grow a lot in the coming years, with an eye on EuropeRichard Ballan

Rashid adds: "We have a plan for the future to do a lot of expansion. We are working under our capacity. So I think the success is not yet. Still, we are at the beginning of the road."

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The Al Matwis family have shown that there is a significant market for local Arabic scents and sanitising products. With the recent success of their customised offerings, they plan to branch out to other regions and countries and take The Perfume Factory global.

Additional sources • Miranda Atty

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