THE ESSENCE OF A CHARLESTON GIRL
West Ashley entrepreneur launches fragrance in time for holidays
By Kim Wiseman
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What's the essence of a Charleston girl? West Ashley resident Kelly Gaskins believes she's captured just that in her newly launched fragrance, Charleston Girl Perfume. "It's smart, it's sexy, and it's sophisticated in its own subtle way," says Gaskins. "Like the women in our city."
The fragrance launched in September and hit area boutique stores last month. "The response to my fragrance has been awesome and humbling," says Charleston native Gaskins, who spent over a year developing Charleston Girl. Gaskins worked with a perfume manufacturer to create the exact scent she was looking for. The perfume contains hints of locally found ingredients, such as jasmine and amber.
Gaskins wanted her fragrance to be inspired by the women she grew up with, whom she describes as naturally beautiful and sophisticated. She says it was important that the scent captures that essence. For visitors to the Holy City, Gaskins hopes her fragrance will be a way of keeping a part of the city with them even when they return home. "People all over the country visit Charleston and connect with our city, and Charleston Girl Perfume is something they can take with them to remind them of our beautiful city," she says.
To fund her business venture, Gaskins said she has been saving enough since her days of serving tables and bartending in college and from her first job as a TV reporter. "Even in college, I had dreams of starting my own business," she says.
When the time came to pitch her product to stores, Gaskins did her homework. The young entrepreneur pored over marketing books for strategies. "I was fully prepared to talk about my fragrance to shop owners around town, but they really didn't want to hear what I had to say. They wanted to test the fragrance," says Gaskins. "And they liked it."
The fragrance is now being carried in seven boutique shops in the Charleston area, including: Simply Your Spa and Charleston Collections & Gifts in West Ashley. Charleston Girl is also available online at charlestongirlperfume.com.
Gaskin's initial supply, which she had planned for conservatively, quickly ran out. "I didn't want to stock up too much at first," she says. "I was a little nervous about launching this business in the current economy. I had seen other small businesses that didn't make it."
Starting a business in these economic times was a risk, but it was one Gaskins was willing to take. For her, the motivation came after a few years of working as a multi-media reporter in Tennessee. "The news business was changing," she said. "I was taking on more and more multiple roles ... all for the same salary. I wasn't taking care of myself, and I knew I had to make a change." She had also seen other colleagues, some of them decade veterans, getting laid off. "I knew then that any of us was disposable." she says.
So Gaskins wanted to be the one to call the shots and make the decisions. "I wanted to be in control of my own destiny." She felt if she was going to work that hard, she should do it for herself and for something she was passionate about. And she came home to Charleston to fulfill this dream.
For more information on Charleston Girl perfume, visit www.charlestongirlperfume.com.