08 Mar 2021

Get to Know Aspen Apothecary, a Business Track New Venture Competition Team


With the New Venture Competition (NVC) finale right around the corner (tune in March 30 at 6:00 pm), learn more about team Aspen Apothecary, a BIPOC founded venture creating vegan CBD infused perfumes.

Team Members: Keta Burke-Williams (MBA 2021), Kaja Burke-Williams

What inspired you to start your company?

The fragrance industry has been around for so long, but unlike skincare and makeup, there are limited clean options when it comes to perfume and personal fragrances. Our story starts with comparing our perfumes of the moment and wanting something more. It starts with us wanting to re-envision self-care as a ritual that makes your life less of a hassle, and it starts with our Jamaican mum imparting the power of scent.

When we embarked on this journey we felt a little like David going to meet the big fragrance Goliath, but our options were to wait for change or do something about it. So we created Aspen Apothecary.

How has the Rock Center helps with your entrepreneurial journey? Are there any other HBS resources that you have been using?

The Rock Center is so special to us because it has created a sense of community in which we feel empowered to reach out for help from the team of advisors and ask silly questions to peers. In addition to the Rock Center, the i-lab is a great community of interested, passionate people, and our HBS professors and peers are always more than willing to talk, provide feedback, and importantly, test our fragrances!

How have you been preparing for the competition?

We’re building the best brand and company we can. We feel that having a good pitch is important, but even more crucial is having the real proof points of the progress we’ve made. We’ve gone from an idea to having a physical product to selling out our Moon Dust fragrance and having to restock!

What part of the NVC journey has been the most helpful for your team?

The guidance and feedback we’ve received from multiple coaches and mentors in the NVC allows us to fine-tune how we communicate our story. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback around how our story resonates, and also some great, tough questions that led us to hone our go-to market strategy, since we are a direct to consumer brand.

How did you go about creating your competition pitch? Do you have any advice for someone looking to create a pitch?

We focused on communicating three key objectives. First, telling our story and journey and explaining why there is a huge opportunity for a Black-owned clean fragrance brand to win the hearts and wallets of consumers. Second, explaining how we’ve come to understand our target customer; from personal experience and conducting surveys and interviews. Third, sharing our vision for how we will grow and scale; by building a strong brand community, expanding deeper into product selection, and expanding distribution through channel partners.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

We are still aspiring entrepreneurs, so our advice comes from a place of being in the experience at the moment. One hurdle we needed to overcome was being willing to ask for help, and being direct about it, so our advice would be to ask for help, and be willing to put in the work when you get it!

Learn more about team Aspen Apothecary.

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