By Coshandra Dillard
Chavalia Mwamba, of Longview, is making her mark in the world of perfumery. The 35-year-old fragrance designer is owner of PM Fragrances, a company she began developing in 2005.
By 2011, she made a splash as a brand participant at events including Pat Smith’s 2011 Treasure You Retreat gift bags and with the 2014 BET Awards Swag Bags.
Her background is in music education and she has taught in Dallas-area schools. She continues to use her musical gifts by teaching songs to her church’s choir and praise teams. Over a decade ago, she found another gift. During parent-teacher conference periods, Mwamba would research the art of perfumery, and soon, the hobby became a passion she could no longer ignore.
“This is definitely my passion and the business I will be pursuing,” she says.
After suffering from asthma-like symptoms, Mwamba figured out that her allergic reactions stemmed from unlisted ingredients of a plug-in room freshener.
She became interested in ingredient analysis with the goal of creating her own blends of fragrances free of harsh chemicals. Her experience gave her the traction needed to be creative.
“It took three years to refine a project that I thought was good enough to show someone else,” she says.
Her fragrances are free from phthalates —a chemical found in fragrances, other personal care products and building materials. The chemical is used to enhance absorption and stabilize the product, but might carry some adverse health effects.
Mwamba is mainly self-taught. She reached out to Thailand-based Perfumers World, and began learning the business through online courses.
In March 2015 she and her husband moved back to East Texas to be closer to family and continue her dream.
“Although we never planned to move back, I must say that the relocation has proven to be the most productive season in my business,” she says.
CAPTURING AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Mwamba says perfumery is an art form, and she hopes to teach others how to create their own fragrances in the future. She also wants to inspire others to pursue their passion.
“This was a mindset change,” she says of her fragrance venture. “Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Create a mindset so that you don’t limit yourself.”
She suggests that people with an entrepreneurial spirit listen to others who are working in the field they’d like to explore including those with inspirational podcasts, blogs, and YouTube videos.
Patience is also necessary, she says.
“The biggest lesson is to not to try to grow too fast and have enough supply for the demand,” Mwamba says. “I wanted to give myself time to hone my craft.”
Mwamba also creates customized fragrances for individuals. To learn more about PM Fragrances, purchase samples or place orders, visit etsy.com/shop/pinkmahoghany or send the perfumer an email at email@example.com.
*Chavalia Dunlap-Mwamba is the oldest granddaughter of Pastor J.B. Dunlap of Galilee Baptist Church in Longview and Evangelist Chris Dunlap of Tyler.