FOUNDER OF HI WILDFLOWER BOTANICA, TANWI NANDINI ISLAM. CREDIT: RAHIL ASHRUFF
For this edition of WOMANday I wanted to introduce you to an extraordinary woman, Tanwi Nandini Islam. Tanwi is a published writer with a novel on the way, and the creator of artisan beauty line, Hi Wildflower Botanica, which includes a product range of perfumes, candles, and skincare. In my interview, we chatted about the road to entrepreneurship, the local small business community in Brooklyn, writing, social activism and more.
Get into our conversation below!
What was the turning point in which you decided to start Hi Wildflower Botanica?
Last year I presented four scents at Bushwick Open Studios. I had been experimenting a lot with perfumery because I was doing a lot of research for my new book that I’m working on, and I kind of wanted to see if people would be into the product. Bushwick Open Studios draws hundreds of people into your studio, which I share with three other artists. A lot of people were into it, so I felt like I hit a certain nerve in regards to the fragrances I had made, and it felt like something that could be a viable source of income, and perhaps a new business.
I’m a writer professionally, and that’s not necessarily the easiest way to make a living, especially when you are writing fiction or working on freelance projects, so this kind of became something that I saw myself doing as a fun, indie business. I initially thought it would just be an Etsy or an extra source of income; I wasn’t thinking wholesale or getting stores, new accounts, or anything like that. It kind of really grew fast because I decided to do a launch at Renegade Craft Fair in late August , and it was awesome. I had a really simple array of product. I had my perfume and I had skincare, and people were feeling it and buying it, and I was like ‘Wow! I’m on to something here. This is really cool.’ Since then, I’ve really expanded a lot. Now I’m in ten different stores, and I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that A) I live in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and it’s a really great location I think to be a new business, and to be an entrepreneur and share it with other small businesses, usually store owners who are all my peers. They are usually women my age who are looking for the next line to carry, whether it be for perfume or skincare, or candles.
Since this is WOMANday, I would love to know the feedback you’ve been getting from fellow female entrepreneurs in your community, as well as consumers?
It has been really, really interesting. I think that the customer is really drawn to the packaging, so the colorful nature of the packaging is really inspired directly by wildflowers. That’s pretty much the central philosophy of the brand, to grow free everywhere, to be the one who is a little bit different than the mainstream, and I think that concept is really beautiful because it’s like every product has its own mini-story and its own aesthetic. I think traditionally that can be seen as ‘Hey! Everything should be super cohesive and one story’ but it’s many stories. This is fun for me. I’m drawn to old botanical drawings, and I think my customer [also] is drawn to that and is really into the idea of ‘this is my signature scent, this is something that really speaks to my personality'; every thing has a different appeal for a different person. If you were to take Night Blossom, which is one of my perfumes that has really deep notes that are floral which I call ‘sex florals’ , and jasmine, neroli, rose; really sexy scents, it’s all understated and it dries down into this leathery ember scent, and it’s for a certain kind of person. Then you have something like West Indies which is grassy, herbaceous, has notes of Bay Rum and lavender; it’s really fresh, and for someone else. I think that’s something that really appeals to people, that they can find their piece within the brand that’s just for them.
For women, I think self-care rituals and finding time in your day to moisturize with body oil, or light a candle and chill, or dab yourself with perfume-oil; it’s all about re-centering and getting in touch with yourself. I would say my customer is someone who appreciates that moment of respite and peace.