Entrepreneur / Who is Elijah
Who would have thought that Coachella would be the catalyst for a radical career change and the beginnings of a cult-worthy fragrance brand? If this business is anything, it taught me that these occurrences happen all of the time, and that is why you need to stop your scroll and meet the luminous Raquel Bouris.
Raquel Bouris is the Founder and Creative Director of who is elijah parfum, an independent fragrance house established in 2018, built on cruelty-free foundations and based in Sydney, Australia.
In this interview, Raquel shared with us why she left school in year 10, how the seeds of her business acumen were planted – quite literally – at Coachella, what goes into making a fragrance brand, the must-have resources she relies on to ensure her career and business perform optimally, and why podcasts at the best mentors she has ever had.
Gosh! I love this interview. Let’s begin.
Where did you grow up and how did your experience shape the person you are, and the
career that you are in today?
I had a pretty normal childhood. My parents are both business owners, so for as long as I can remember, I observed the ups and downs of owning a business, and also the hard work and dedication you have to have to successfully run your own business. It was business school from a very young age!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through a stage where I wanted to be a lawyer (my dad always said my arguing skills would make me a successful lawyer) I also wanted to work with children.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Port Hacking High School in the Sutherland Shire. I didn’t love school to be honest, I got to year 9 or 10 and just wanted to leave so I could go and work. So I finished year 10, and off I went.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I would like to say yes.. but no, I think school is good for necessities such as English, maths etc, but what the high school curriculum is missing is real-life knowledge and skill teaching. Like, understating tax, how to start a business, investing, buying property, how politics work – these are the skills that we should be learning in the final years of school.
Love this and couldn’t agree more. So, did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience
No, but I had a job from the age of 14! I worked at a hairdressing salon, washing hair and sweeping the floor – I also worked at Boost Juice during my school years – I would work after school and on weekends. I loved the independence I felt and earning my own money from a young age.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them.
Aside from obtaining a Diploma in Children’s Services, I never felt I wanted to study. I have always been a practical learner and never really knew what I wanted to do until I founded who is elijah.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
When I left school I worked in Early Childhood Education for roughly 3 years. At the end of this time, I knew I wanted to work in the corporate world. I worked as a PA at ModelCo briefly at the age of 20, I learnt so much there, things that I still carry with me each day at who is elijah.
I then had a stint in the property, real estate world, but I didn’t love it. I then found my dream job as an Executive Assistant at a luxury hotel group. I worked here for three years and it was during this time that I created who is elijah.
I learnt a tremendous amount of high-level, executive business skills – I reported to the CEO, CFO and two other directors for the company. I basically worked across all areas of the business and it was better than going to business school. The transferable skills I acquired there have helped me build the business I have now.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
My ultimate dream job, who is elijah! I went to Coachella in 2017 with my best friends. One of my friends brought along a friend and she just smelt amazing. I tracked down the oil fragrance she was wearing and started wearing it back home around Sydney. I then had people approaching me in public asking to know what fragrance I was wearing – I was a little tipsy one night and had a light build idea to create a fragrance.
It took about 12 months of research and finding a perfumer here in Sydney, but I stuck with it and launched in 2018.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Keeping up with the growth we are experiencing can be difficult at times, managing inventory and freight has been a big challenge the past two years, but we have implemented Salesforce and built a system that has helped tremendously with the structure of the business.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you at who is elijah?
My emails are the first thing I check in the morning. Because we operate across the USA, my workday sometimes has to start at 5am so I can communicate with our international partners and suppliers. I work in my office everyday – I am across all departments and often find myself assisting in the warehouse.
We hand-fill all of our products and it is very time-consuming! The rest of my day is spent managing our wholesale partners and I am responsible for our social media.
I work very closely with my Co-Brand Manager and we focus on PR activities almost daily together.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I learnt a lot from my parents growing up, they instilled in me how important it is to have strong work ethic, and understanding the value of money. My husband is my daily inspiration he is very business smart and has helped me immensely whilst building who is elijah.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
You can do it all! I often get asked how I have kids and; also a business, but you can always make it work. Having a good support system around me definitely helps, but I also don’t rely completely on others. Research and understand the why and how to your business idea, but also don’t put off your business idea to wait for perfect. I have changed my packaging four times since launching four years ago – depending on the business or product, sometimes it is best to start and perfect as you move along.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @whoiselijahparfum ha! I also love Summer Friday’s and Bangn Body for inspiration, Marianna Hewitt, PopSuagr, Gritty Pretty for beauty inspo and I love watching Matilda Murray IG stories! – I also love thatcoolmoodboard page.
- Favourite Podcast: So many! Mark Bouris the Mentor, Life with Marianna, Call her Daddy, Shameless, Him & Her, Not Skinny Not Fat, Works For Us, Seize the Yay, Gritty Pretty Radio – the list goes on.
- Favourite Netflix/Stan/ Series: The Blacklist, Power on Stan, How to Get away with Murder, Real Housewives (addicted).
- Who is your mentor? I consider listening to Podcasts as a type of mentorship, I have learnt a lot from podcasts and also following other entrepreneurs on Instagram and really listening to their advice. My Husband is my everyday mentor.
- Favourite all time book/s: Samantha Wills Of Gold and Dust – I have listened to this audio book at least five times!
- Favourite App that you use every day: Instagram is such an integral part of my day for who is elijah! I have also recently started using a video editor app called Vixer, it is so easy to use!