From overcoming illness and the loss of her father, Sophie King (a.k.a Soki) harnessed the power of perfume to launch an online community and, with their backing and the help of a famous ‘nose’, was finally able to create her very own fragrance…
As a little girl, Sophie King tells us she would ‘eagerly await’ the return of her father from one of his overseas trips, when he would often surprise her with a new perfume. Having ignited this passion, it simmered for some years, growing ever more fervent when, as a student, Sophie found work in an independent fragrance boutique in the U.K. It was here she went beyond merely liking scent for herself, to learning the complexities of perfume’s compositions and, perhaps even more importantly, hearing first-hand from customers in the shop about what they were looking for, what they truly loved when finding a fragrance that fitted their personalities. Indeed, at The Perfume Society, we have always felt that the emotional intelligence one gains when working in retail, and the importance of the understanding between the customer and a well-trained and passionate shop assistant cannot be underestimated.
With a good grounding as both a consumer and seller in the scent world, Sophie knuckled down and started work as a management consultant. But, after a decade of doing it, her creative urges were desperate for an outlet – and, following her battles with personal illness, overcoming Bacterial Meningitis and Septicaemia; the world of olfaction came calling once again. In 2015, Sophie launched a YouTube channel, where she built a following of fragrance lovers who were keen to see her explain perfumery in an un-fussy manner. The word ‘influencer’ wasn’t really being bandied about back in those days, but that’s doubtless what she became – using the soubriquet ‘Soki’, she shared product reviews with an aim to simplify scent for the masses, and in the forthcoming years managed to garner a following of 100k fellow fragrance fanatics.
Sadly losing her father to Covid-19, Sophie threw herself into the world of fragrance and was inspired to start her own business. As her perfumed persona Soki, Sophie had heard from many of her followers that they shared one disappointment in many of the designer scents they loved: the ‘silage’. This is the term we give to the strength, lasting-power and resulting trail a fragrance leaves on your skin. Sometimes it’s nice to wear quieter scents, of course, but can be such a let-down if a fragrance you adore at first, simply disappears on your skin. Putting her thinking cap on, and recalling her time working in the perfumery, Sophie set out to create her own fragrance – something that would be the best of both worlds, being affordable and long-lasting.
Not being a perfumer herself and knowing how many years it takes to train to become a professional nose; Sophie sought out the skills of acclaimed British perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek – a name well known to our Perfume Society readers, as we’ve been raving about her own line fragrances, and those she’s created for others, for many years. Being not only a classically trained perfumer but a former President of the British Society of Perfumers, Ruth was more than ready to take on the challenge of composing a fragrance that met Sophie’s criteria of being beautiful (obvs) but also being priced accessibly and having the refined resonance of many far more expensive brands.
But launching a fragrance is, as anyone who’s tried it can tell you, an incredibly difficult and expensive project. The reason Sophie could afford to do it was with the financial backing of her loyal 100k+ followers. Innovatively using the ‘crowdfunding’ source of Kickstarter, Sophie was able make her fragrant dream a reality.
And the result? We think you’ll agree: Empress impresses! Sophie describes it as ‘an ethereal burst of light’ and explains it was ‘…formulated by blending fragrant oils from Italy, Egypt and Indonesia with top notes of wild strawberries and pear, a blooming heart of Moroccan rose, peony and green accord with a woody base of patchouli and a unique layer of popcorn.’ The bottle was equally important to her. ‘I wanted to create a bottle that sits on your dressing table that you look at every day,’ says Sophie. ‘Something special, beautiful and intricate. I’ve always loved stars and celestial designs. I remember having glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling in my childhood bedroom and the custom design of the cap takes me to that place of childhood wonderment. Empress encapsulates this ethereal feeling for me.’ And we feel sure to say, this transportive scent with take you there, too…