Like many industries, the cosmetics industry has been influenced by technology, with many companies developing apps and other tools to match clients with product. Some companies are taking tech further, giving customers access to tools that allow them to find products that are unique to their own personality. Erika Shumate, co-founder of Pinrose, a luxury fragrance company based in San Francisco, talks about how she and her co-founder Christine Luby blended cosmetics and tech.

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Inspired by science

Shumate got the idea for Pinrose while completing a history of science degree in college. She states, “I focused on the study of olfaction and the brain. What I learned was fascinating. About 90 percent of what we know about the brain, we’ve learned in the past 15 to 20 years. I realized that the fragrance and perfume industry could use this new knowledge to build better products and help consumers understand the industry and its products. I was inspired to create a line of fragrances that was built upon the knowledge of the brain and designed for the 21st century woman.” Once the idea took shape, Shumate used her knowledge to develop technology that would translate these principles to the customer.


Tech development

Shumate and Luby decided to build a platform that would allow customers to find their scent based on a variety of factors. Shumate states, “We created a quiz based in the science of synesthesia, a neurological condition where your sensory preferences are linked. For example, the middle C note on a piano sounds like royal blue to many musical virtuosos. Our quiz asks for your preference for certain colors, shapes, textures and sounds. We built the quiz to be used online and created an algorithm that analyzes your responses to the questions to create a personal scent style recommendation.”


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Rounding out the client experience

While the science and technology behind Pinrose is solid, fragrance tends to be influenced by body chemistry, which is something that can only be determined in person. Shumate and Luby took this into consideration. “We created single-dose fragrance sachets so that customers can sample the quiz results before committing to a full size bottle. We’re working on ways to incorporate skin science and body chemistry into our quiz to better match our customers, and we hope to launch this program in the near future.”

By identifying an interest and developing a business around it, Shumate was able to translate her unique knowledge into a successful business opportunity. Blending science and technology has helped Pinrose modify the customer experience and get a product that is easily incorporated into their personal style.



This article was written by Alaina Brandenburger of for CBS Small Business Pulse.


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