A sensory tale

Amna Al Habtoor, creator of the Dubai-based perfumery brand Arcadia, has been delighting our senses since 2017 with her cruelty, paraben and chemical free unisex fragrances.


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The artisanal perfumes are made using the most luxurious ingredients while being environmentally conscious. Most recently, Amna decided to make her brand available worldwide, but she wanted it to do it the right way. She recycled all cardboard presentation boxes previously used and introduced pouches made from recycled materials in the UAE.

The brands website arcadiabyamna.com has been redesigned and features all 10 scents from the edition 1 collection, including top seller No.9 Vanilla Pod and limited-edition Infinity scent.

“Our goal has always been to create a boutique fragrance house in the Middle East and introduce to people an innovative way of experiencing perfume. We have combined the scents and perfumes from the Gulf’s culture, history and heritage and we now want to share this with the rest of the world,” Amna explains.

Below, she talks us through the challenges and shares a few words of wisdom for those who are looking to enter the luxury fragrance market.


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What did you study at university?

Design & Strategy.

What was your first job?

Marketing Director at Al Habtoor Motors.

What inspired you to launch Arcadia?

I’ve had a passion for perfume from a young age, when I founded my company MASH concepts in 2014, I applied the experience and skills I developed after completing my training as a perfumer and seized the opportunity to fulfil my dream to launch a niche market fragrance brand. I was drawn to the idea of the ‘art’ of scents, so I’ve worked closely with some very talented artisans to fulfil my vision of crafting unique scents based on the idea of memories and nostalgia.

What are the key elements of your role?

I formulate each fragrance and perfect them with an emphasis on nostalgia, which helps create the narrative of each fragrance. I also manage and direct overall imagery and design, from photo shoots to brand profiles to packaging. I also attend meetings with suppliers, retailers and other key stakeholders. Finally, I manage day to day tasks and overall company vision.


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Talk us through your daily routine.

I wake up every morning at 6:30, make sure the kids have had their breakfast and send them off to school, I put the youngest one down for her nap and then head to the office and work till the kids are back from school. I sit and have lunch with them and after that we go through all their homework and do activities during the afternoon. Once they are done and have had their dinner, I catch up with my friends in the evening.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

Do something you enjoy; you must have passion and dedication to make it work.

Which fashion brands can we find in your work wardrobe?

Maison Margiela, Fendi, Loewe, Dior, Mango, Zara – a little bit of everything.


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What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Don’t give up, because sometimes the things you have a passion for are the hardest to achieve but once you accomplish that goal, there no better feeling.

And what is the worst?

You are too ambitious. Lower your expectations. 

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome? 

Being a business owner, there are certain expectations to follow in the footsteps of my father and replicate his successes. Those are obviously big shoes to fill, however with the support of my friends and family, I’ve been given the confidence to believe I’m capable of anything.

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