Interview with Kate Wright, founder of Cally King

Find out how her own daughter’s experience inspired lawyer Kate Wright to launch Cally King, a new, disruptive perfume brand designed for teens.

What’s your career background?

After uni, I started work in advertising sales then journalism, then for many years I have been, and continue to be, a lawyer, advising all sorts of clients of all sizes, from start ups to global giants, and everything in between.

It was while advising a perfumer client that I was inspired to start Cally King when I was struck by how hard it is to make any sense of the perfume world without getting a few bearings first. My legal background meant I was lucky that starting a new business was straightforward for me, and I’m aware of the things to avoid which can bring a start up down.

What is Cally King?

Cally King is a new, disruptive perfume brand. Designed for teens, it recognises that newcomers to the fragrance world haven’t a clue where to start. So we simplified things and encourage them to find their own way, starting with four core scents which they can then combine as they wish, to find their signature scent.

I came up with the idea with my teenage daughter, Honor, in mind. She and her mates would go into department stores and squirt themselves with a mix of fragrances – usually the really sweet ones! – without a clue as to how those scents were put together or what they really liked.

Honor and her friends have been my sounding board all through the development of our products, which has been great for the brand, and great for our relationship.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Not being overwhelmed with the immensity of the task of pulling a new perfume brand together from nothing. I knew I wanted a sophisticated, must-have product, that would be attractive to teens and adults, not some play set for children.

So I spent a lot of time commissioning samples from lots of different perfumers, interviewing manufacturers, visiting other suppliers and working on the look and feel of the brand, with the help of ad agency and brand consultants Punktuate! I was lucky enough to find some suppliers who are very supportive of startups, for which I am hugely grateful.

What has been your proudest moment?

Holding our first finished product at the end of last year (oh, and most times I look at my gorgeous children). I was confident it would happen, but there were endless delays and hiccups on the way. And of course that was only stage one. Next, I needed to get the products to market!

What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?

Being able to shape things how I want them, and to see how the results seem to genuinely delight our buyers. And I love that my children have seen how it’s worth starting something, however off centre it might seem (remember, I am a lawyer and mum, not a perfume expert), and seeing it through to the end.

Do you have any advice for others looking to start their own business from home?

Be clear sighted about your vision, but be flexible about how you achieve it: make sure it doesn’t derail the parts of your life that matter to you most, whether that’s family, friends, sport or whatever. If you can – and not everyone has the luxury of this – only work with people you like and admire. And keep your sense of humour!

You can find out more about Cally King on their website