Dar Salwa is a Saudi perfumery, which was established in 2018 that offers perfumes suited to all tastes.
Salwa Al-Harbi had always had an interest in combining scents and mixing perfumes as a young girl.
“My grandmother used to do it all the time. Even after she passed away, I still recall her unique scent. It was completely ‘her’,” she told Arab News.
Al-Harbi grew up following in her late grandmother’s footsteps at home, sampling scents and mixing complementary fragrances together. She went to King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah to pursue a degree in science and later dedicated her career to education as a laboratory technician. But her passion for perfumery never went away.
She began making perfumes at home for fun. Instead of buying expensive gifts, she prepared mixtures of oud and essential oils and gifted them to friends and family.
“I was met with overwhelming support, so I thought, why not turn this hobby into something I do full-time?” Al-Harbi said.
“I started looking into workshops and ways to educate myself to get the skills that would help me transform this into a business. At the time, perfume consultant and designer Majid Iterji was advertising a workshop for a Canadian certification, and I signed up for it.”
Al-Harbi described the workshop as transformative. She said it changed her entire outlook on perfumery and taught her the chemistry of how scents worked together. Her methods became more scientific.
After three years of continuous hard work, Dar Salwa was born.
“The first year was a lot of administrative work, building the foundation, learning how businesses are run in Saudi Arabia, keeping up with the Kingdom’s regulations and broadening my scope on small businesses with the Jeddah Chamber, the Ministry of Commerce and insurance companies,” she said.
With Dar Salwa’s second year, things were set in motion for Al-Harbi. Business was starting to flourish, and she began registering her products with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, becoming more of an overseer on productivity at the company and factory.
As a perfumer and the designer of every bottled fragrance in her collection, Al-Harbi said it was necessary to monitor seasonal trends and look over popular brands to keep tabs on what’s hip, but she also stressed the importance of working with local ingredients.
“My brand relies in full on plants and flowers that are local. The Kingdom has an abundance of natural resources; there were scents I would have never even imagined finding here in the South. People only pay attention to Taif rose, but we have elder shrubs and hyacinths and so much more. Importing international resources is obviously important, but we can do so much with what we already have,” she she.
Central to Al-Harbi’s brand is both continuity and reinvention.
“It’s essential to cater to all tastes. Perfumes are ever-changing, and tastes vary widely. In Saudi Arabia, you have the youth who prefer European, French floral and powdery scents, and then you have those above 40 who favor wood and oud mixtures.”
Out of her collection, she noted that her most popular scents were a mixed oil fragrance called Retaj, which has a woody base, and a perfume called Aatar. She now only pushes for them upon delivery, due to their costly composition.
Dar Salwa receives orders through their Instagram account: darsalwa.official.