Caftari, a neuroscents-based candle brand founded by Shreya Aggarwal, is launching direct-to-consumer Tuesday with two candles: Elixir, $60, and Dolce, $60.
Scent has always been a major part of Aggarwal’s life, she said.
“My earliest childhood memories are linked back to specific fragrance notes,” she said. “Growing up, my friends and family would always call me a dog because I would pause and sniff them and try and guess what they were wearing.”
While fragrance played an important role in her life through adulthood — she also worked as a fragrance buyer for Dermstore.com — it wasn’t until the summer of 2022 when she was suffering with mental health issues, including anxiety and insomnia, that Aggarwal realized there was a business opportunity.
“I was so on edge about everything,” she said of that period of time. “I started to establish a routine.”
For her, scent played a huge role in that routine — she would light candles, spray her pillows and use diffusers to achieve certain mood benefits.
“That’s when I dug myself into a rabbit hole on the different types of neurological benefits that fragrance can offer,” Aggarwal told WWD, noting she also minored in psychology and neuroscience at Boston University, driving her interest in the brain.
She then set out to create a fragrance brand that would be not only indulgent but functional as well. It employs neuroscents, which are functional fragrances meant to provide a neurological benefit. By working with scent manufacturers, Aggarwal has been able to create Elixir, which features notes of bergamot, lemon and orange aiming to provide energy, and Dolce, which employs rose essential oil aiming to boost serotonin and happiness.
Currently, the brand is employing third-party studies and conducting independent panels of 30 people to back claims around mood-boosting benefits. Aggarwal noted she plans to conduct more in-depth studies in the future. She also consulted with neuroscientists on the brand’s messaging.
Additional candles for specific use cases like sleep and mediation, as well as new fragrance modalities like roll-ons, are in the pipeline for the brand.
Aggarwal expects the brand to reach $20,000 in retail sales through the end of the year, as a high percentage of candles sales occur during the holiday season. Prior to launch, the brand had secured two private events with bulk sales and confirmed around 150 pre-orders.
While Caftari is starting direct-to-consumer, Aggarwal said she is currently working with three New York City-based spas for a brick-and-mortar launch.