Newport Beach woman launches perfume company out of her house to fight against sex trafficking
The smell of gardenias and tuberose wafted down the street from a Corona del Mar house on Serra Street last summer.
Inside, warm wax bubbled on the stovetop, and wax and wicks littered the countertops. In her kitchen-turned-laboratory, Amanda Meyer poured, cooled and formed candles, just one of the products for her fledgling line of fragrances that bloomed last May into Elia Parfum — a perfume line to empower women.
She now runs the company through an online storefront and manages the website, fulfillment and customer service. She’s a one-woman operation with the exception of ads on social media, Meyer said, though she’d be glad to have help.
Elia Parfum officially “opened” last summer, but Meyer said the project is one that’s floated in the back of her head for nearly four years. It’s only with the time afforded to her because of the pandemic, when she has been unable to find work as a fit model that she has turned what had just been an idea into reality.
The idea to start the business didn’t spring from an interest in making perfumes but from a desire to help sex trafficking victims.
“I was in a Bible study and we all kind of went around in a circle and we were talking about, ‘If we could do anything in the world, what would it be?’ My idea was that I wanted to help people and sex trafficking victims specifically because they’re just given no opportunities,” Meyer said. “Once you’re in it, you’re stuck in it, and it breaks my heart to see stories and hear about these women’s lives and so I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help them.”
She didn’t know how, but the idea was floated that she could start a business that would enable her to give back to society. Then, it hit her — “kind of like an aha moment” — while she was spraying perfume on herself.
“I was just like, ‘Oh, wow. I could start a perfume line,’” Meyer said, “and all of the busywork got started there.”
The name of the fragrance line came from her mother’s maiden name to honor not only her mom but also her maternal grandmother. She said she wanted the name to have a meaning but didn’t want to name it after herself at the risk of sounding pretentious — “No joke,” she laughed.
“This is perfect because it’s for women. It’s about helping women, empowering women, and I thought, ‘This is just perfect,’” said Meyer.
Meyer reached out to the A21 Campaign, a global nonprofit that works to fight human trafficking. Officials at the organization’s Orange County office said that Meyer contacted them in January 2019 and, since the start of their partnership, has raised $6,800 for the organization.
“We love partnering with Elia Parfum,” said Emily Lowman, the regional lead for strategic partnerships at A21, in an email.
“Amanda has such a heart for justice and to see human trafficking eradicated and it is inspiring to us to see the steps she has taken through her own business to fight trafficking,” Lowman said.
“We always say, it is not someone doing everything that will be the reason trafficking ends,” Lowman said, “but it will be when everyone does something, and I think Amanda is setting an incredible example for people and businesses in her community on what it looks like to play a part in educating people on the reality of trafficking as well as funding the work of organizations like ours to stop the cycle.”
Meyer said she donates 10% off the top of all purchases to the organization and has made more than 1,000 sales in just the last month.
Currently, her business offers just the one fragrance. Costs vary across sizes of bottles and candles from $20 to $120. Meyer said she’s working on developing three other scents she hopes to release by the end of this year or the start of next year. She’s working on developing soaps and lotions to sell too.
She hopes she might one day be able to acquire a physical storefront in Newport Beach but for now is thankful that her roommate, Laura Romine, has been supportive of her work.
Romine said the earliest days of Elia Parfum meant boxes were strewn throughout their Corona del Mar home. Meyer jokes their entire driveway is still just boxes upon boxes but that they’ve managed to store much of her stock in her home office. Romine said she moved in just before the start of the pandemic and they talked about what the business might look like.
Meyer launched it off Instagram first before the two migrated Elia Parfum onto Shopify.
“I definitely feel like I’ve gotten so much more educated on the project just from being in the house and seeing all the work she’s been doing,” said Romine. “She really felt called to do this and just to try and address this problem in the world.”
“I’ve really seen it come from day one to a full-fledged company,” she added. “It was kind of still being thrown together. Now, it really feels like it’s come together and it really has a full design. It’s fun to watch such a cool side project and now it’s blossomed into a full business.”
Meyer reiterated that the reason she started Elia Parfum is explicitly to create a company that gives back. It is the only reason she’s even in business or why she started, she said.
“I want to be able to help others in the process,” said Meyer. “I think that’s what it’s all about. I think it’s giving back, using our strengths and abilities to help others along the way more rewarding than doing anything else.
“Everyone has their own opinion on it. Mine would probably be that if everybody did this, can you imagine how different the world would be?” she said.
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