‘I went from doing nothing to picking up an MA, a job and a business all at once’

Gemma Evans used one fire-breaker lockdown to go from bored to business owner. She now must balance study, work and running a company

Gemma makes all 120 scents herself and has posted them all over the country
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Some things happen in small doses and some things happen all at once.

For Gemma Evans life shot from nought to a hundred during Wales’ fire-breaker lockdown in October 2020, as she went from post-university stagnation to the full-time juggling of study, work and entrepreneurship.

“It’s just mad,” she grins, gesturing at her office with its mile-high stack of boxes and drawers of colourful bottles. Having recently moved in with her boyfriend in Newport Gemma, 23, says she needed an extra bedroom just for her surplus of supplies.

When the pandemic hit, Cardiff born Gemma’s university experience abruptly ended and she soon found the novelty of lockdown wearing off.

Unemployed and stuck at home, Gemma decided to busy herself again in September with a master’s in human resource management and a job at Tesco. Yet it was when her grandparents arrived from Spain with a “lush” smelling crystal hanging from their car mirror, that Gemma chose to ramp up her life even more and launch her car scent business Scent Sensation.

Trial and Error

After originally training in spray tans and eye lashes in early 2020, Gemma was nervous about starting up another business.

“It felt like such a failed business opportunity that I’d put time, effort and money into, so I really didn’t want another failed venture,” she says.

She was especially worried about the lack of people driving in lockdown, but soon found that over the Christmas period the demand for her colourful diffusers was high.

So began her process of trial and error; learning how to order in bulk, buying PPE for assembly, and most fun of all, matching the right colour bottles with the right glitter and scents.

She says her family were a great help for giving advice and once orders started picking up it became an all-hands-on-deck situation at her Mum’s kitchen table.

“All the fumes were lingering in the room, our spag-bowl was smelling like fresh snowflake!” she laughs.

I was texting my boyfriend saying ‘we’ve got over a hundred orders to do!’

Tik Tok algorithms

Gemma hopes one day to turn Scent Sensation into her full-time job, but as most of her publicity relies on Instagram and Tik Tok, she worries about changing algorithms and trends.

“It goes so much like this” she says, waving her finger up and down, “some weeks I might get three orders, some weeks I might get 20.”

This social media presence really paid off, however, as a simple lip-synching Tik Tok got over 150,000 views in March. “I was shaking as my phone was blowing up and I was texting my boyfriend saying ‘We’ve got over a hundred orders to do!’” she says.

Despite this, Gemma still feels awkward when she sets up her ring light for recording, so will often do up to 30 videos in one sitting to get it out of the way.

She confesses she has become less shy though, and is learning to take each mad day as it comes.

She chuckles, “If you’d told me a year ago that I’d sell a thousand of these scents I wouldn’t believe you for a second.”

Gemma’s scent recommendations

What’s the best scent for a stressful day?

Probably one of the fresh ones like Baby Powder or Fresh Linen, like when you get into new covers.

What’s your favourite upcoming Christmas scent?

Gingerbread, hands down.

How about if you’re going on a long drive?

Probably a fruity one, Mango is really popular but Cherry is nice as well.

What if you were driving with a date?

My favourite perfume is Black Opium which is named Black Dust, it’s got a very sexy scent.

Which diffuser would you recommend for a sunny day at the beach?

Either Pornstar Martini or Pina Colada.