Indie Pioneers Podcast

A ‘testament’ to the virtual age: How to create a fragrance brand from opposite sides of the world

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By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Indie Pioneers Podcast: Gabar founders on how it creates a fragrance brand from opposite sides of the world

Related tags indie pioneers podcast Fragrance South east asia

The founders of Myanmar-based Gabar have revealed how they overcame the physical challenges of being separated from each other – and their team of perfumers – to create fragrances that could authentically represent their country and culture.

Gabar debuted in 2021 with three fragrances inspired by the natural landscape of Myanmar. It was developed by Myanmar-born Phway Su Aye and Su Zar Wain Hnin, two former investment bankers.

“We wanted to bring Myanmar’s heritage to the world and represent our culture. We felt that fragrance actually was the perfect medium to do something like that,”​ said Aye.

Starting a brand without formal perfumery training was tough enough, but the duo had to do it while apart. On top of that, they had to work with a perfumer who could not travel and experience their homeland first-hand.

Pulling this off was a “testament to how strong the virtual age is”,​ Aye told CosmeticsDesign-Asia​. To help the perfumer better understand Myanmar, they sent her things that were distinct to Burmese culture, such as Thanaka.

Thanaka is Myanmar’s ancient beauty secret, a pale-yellow paste believed to protect the skin from sun damage, free radicals, and prevent signs of ageing. “For centuries, people in the country have been using it as a daily morning ritual, and it's very much ingrained in our culture,”​ Hnin explained.

She also described the process of developing the fragrances while on the other side of the world. “It definitely took some time and I think three different sampling rounds. I think it was three to four sampling rounds before we finally came to the perfect kind of formulation for us and we were really, really excited about it.”

Despite the geographical challenges, Aye said that the pair thoroughly enjoyed the entire process.

“I think for us, it felt so natural. I think Suze and I just like loved the process of all of this as it all flowed. But I think a lot of people, maybe knowing what we were doing, they'd be maybe confused or surprised that you’re starting a fragrance brand in the middle of the pandemic, and you’ve got all these barriers. How are you going to do it? But none of that even struck us. I think we were both consumed by just doing this.”

To find out more about Phway, Susan and Gabar, check out our podcast above, or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and more.

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