Even when he was just a Psychology student, Joel Cruz was already very entrepreneurial, with his own small buy and sell venture. Instead of pursuing Medicine after college, he built his own garments business, which distributed clothing items to different stores. In 1997, however, he faced the tough decision of closing down his own company due to the economic crisis.

Others would have folded in the stench of loss. But not Joel. Aware that Filipinos are very hygienic and love smelling good, he seized another business venture and entered the fragrance industry. The new millennium saw the birth of Joel’s new business—Aficionado, which offers affordable perfumes. Joel himself would sell his products in their first ever kiosk.

“I would talk to passersby myself and tell them to try our products. I would be talking nonstop for hours and lose my voice at the end of the day,” Joel recounts.

Having supplied garments to SM before, it was natural for Joel to enter into another partnership with SM, but this time, with his line of perfumes. From one kiosk in Caloocan, Aficionado now has more than 600 stalls in malls, supermarkets, department stores and drugstores.

“SM has given Aficionado the opportunity to grow with the mall as a partner and with the continuing expansion to new mall openings. Our partnership with SM is a synergy to achieve more and for the benefit of the consumers.,” says Joel, who is now nicknamed the “Lord of Scents,” and is one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the country.   

The company’s growth has extended to its distributors and resellers. What used to be a lean workforce that included only Joel and two sales ladies, Aficionado has built an extensive network and now provides livelihood to close to 1,000 people, including franchisees and retailers. His resilience amid adversity has paid off not just for him, but also for his business partners.    

“I am a very hopeful person. Even if my former business closed down, I knew that an opportunity would still come. You just have to be creative and love what you are doing,” he says.

To know more about Aficionado’s offerings, visit http://aficionado.com.ph.