Fresh Air Founder Banking on Sweet Smell of SuccessJun 14, 2023 01:18PM ● By Lucia Jackson
Humans’ sense of smell is thought to be the oldest of the senses and has the most direct connection to the brain’s memory center, according to neuroscientists. Entrepreneur Danielle Gilmore has picked up on that trait with her new Columbia-based business, Fresh Air, purveyor of scented sprays and auto air fresheners.
As an example, she created a fragrance called strawberry poundcake for her car freshener sachets. “It’s high quality, and it smells so good,” Gilmore says. “And it lasts so long.”
Gilmore, with her husband and cofounder Tervin Gilmore, established their LLC, DoubleGG AllinOne in January 2018. Their company, Fresh Air, started on Jan. 12, 2023.
Their first product was an air freshener spray, in fragrances such as powder fresh, loud cherry, soft cotton, and coconut island. The water-based spray is mixed with natural oils. “It’s naturally eco-friendly,” Gilmore says. “It’s pet-friendly and can be used as a topper after cleaning. It’s safe for fabric and bedding.”
Fresh Air’s newest product is sachet bags that are primarily used as car air fresheners, but can be used in any small space, such as a gym bag. Gilmore uses gel beads, adding fragrance and letting them cure in a glass jar for seven to 10 days. The fragrance is made from natural oils, with no dyes. After the beads cure, they are scooped into the mesh bags and labeled.
Besides strawberry poundcake, the scents for the sachets include pink sand, Jolly Rancher, bikini bottom (tropical island fruit), volcano blue (also tropical but stronger), and black ice, a masculine fragrance. The scent stays strong for 30 days.
Researching the market, Gilmore found a growing demand for auto air fresheners in particular. The target age group is 15-65, she says. Gilmore keeps meticulous sales records and says that in the first three months of the year, Fresh Air reached 5,537 customers with its products.
Gilmore attends festivals and creates pop-up shops to sell Fresh Air products, mostly on the weekend. Usually, she sells out quickly. “I love to make other people smile with the products,” Gilmore says. “With my experience in the customer service field, I have great communication skills. I greet the customer and say, ‘I’d like to present this product.’” With some experience in event planning, Gilmore says she loves working at events in the community.
Most of the events Gilmore takes part in have 2,000 attendees or fewer, but she hopes to expand production so that she can go to much larger ones, where as many as 50,000 people might try Fresh Air products. She travels often, going to Greenville, Spartanburg, and Charlotte as well as Las Vegas.
Gilmore says she has always wanted to have her own business. Originally from Mississippi, she moved to Georgia and worked as an interior painter of residential homes, which led to creating and selling resin art. Those crafts led to making Fresh Air’s products. Gilmore also has experience in customer service, in scheduling and dispatching for an ADA transit company and in health care. “I’ve always been creative. I started young, watching DIY videos. I already knew how to make the spray, and that led me to the sachet bags.”
Selling the sachet bags at $5 each and the spray air fresheners at $7 for an eight-ounce bottle, Gilmore projects that her total sales could grow to $110,000 this year. But she is looking for investors to help her expand. Fresh Air is competing in the Inaugural $30K PowerUp competition for start-up companies in South Carolina. Presented by Integrated Media Publishing and Erik Weir, the competition offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to win a grant from $5,000 to $15,000.
With more working capital, Gilmore will be able to invest in supplies and in custom-made labels for a more professional appearance. She would like to go from part-time (weekends) to full-time sales.
On the drawing board for Fresh Air are developing a website, so that customers who buy the products once can reorder. Gilmore would like to develop a spray vial of scent that could be used to refresh the car air freshener bags when their scent begins to fade. She would also like to be able to sell wholesale.
A long-range plan is to open kiosk machines that could be placed in a mall or big-box store so that customers could buy Fresh Air’s products in more locations.
“I’m very goal-oriented,” Gilmore says. “I know I can reach my goals. I want to gain investors that will not only see my vision but see the value of my product.”