It was becoming a mum that prompted Sydney-based Almira Armstrong to reassess her career. In 2013, Armstrong launched Lumira; leaving behind a successful career in marketing to meld her love of gorgeous scents and creating candles to create a luxe fragrance and candle range. Here the successful businesswoman and busy mother of two shares what inspires her, the key to looking stylish whilst juggling a young family and career and the one thing she is most proud of…
How did you come up with the Lumira range?
I’ve had a love affair with candles and fragrance for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories as a little girl was playing with mum’s bottles of perfume at every opportunity. During my teens, I taught myself how to make candles in the kitchen at home, which I would give to friends and family for special occasions. After university, a career in marketing kept me in creative circles and offered the valuable opportunity to live and work overseas, but becoming a mum prompted me to rethink the path ahead and I decided to pursue my dream of creating products that would allow me to indulge my love of scent, design and travel. In September 2013 Lumira was born.
What is your favourite scent in the range?
Tuscan Fig has to be my favourite scent at the moment as it reminds me of the time my husband and I travelled through Italy together. It was an easy scent to bring to life as the visual and scent memories were so vivid. It’s now available as a Perfume Oil, so I get to wear the scent everyday!
How has the range expanded?
I always wanted to add fragrance to the brand, it was just all about timing. I introduced the Perfume Oils late last year and they have been so well received.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I would say casual-chic as I never know what my day will involve. Most days I am quite hands on within the business so it’s usually my favourite J Brand jeans with a white tee and black blazer that can take me into meetings when need to.
What is your favourite room in your house?
My bedroom! I love getting dressed and ready for the day. There’s something ritualistic about it but also the notion of a new day and new opportunities. Then of course it’s the place I switch off after a long day too!
What is the best styling tip you have?
Your shoes are the finishing touch for every outfit! It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple tee and jeans, you can either dress it up or down with a pair of killer designer heels or simple white sneakers.
How do you like to relax?
Usually with a cup of tea and my favourite book. I am currently reading Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler.
What is your favourite dish to eat?
Anything from [Sydney’s] Fratelli Paradiso, but especially the Scampi Pasta.
Do you have a favourite local café?
Sample Coffee which is right near my office has great coffee and croissants!
Where do you like to travel to?
I love Europe, but where I like to spend most of my time is Italy. One of my favourite parts is Puglia, the diversity between land and sea is just so beautiful and inspiring.
Where do you find inspiration for your range?
For me, fragrances can be very transportive and trigger memories with a power that none of the other senses have. Creating a fragrance begins with a series of inspirations – art, design, travel, poetry… these (and more) are all elements that I draw on for inspiration when developing a new fragrance.
What are you most proud of in your life so far?
l am appreciative of being able to balance my work and my kids. I have a five-year-old boy and a girl who is two years old. The juggle is very real, but it’s rewarding to be able to make time for the kids, yet dedicate my day to work.
How do you juggle a young family and your own business?
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. It’s hard to maintain a sense of self when you first have kids. But I’ve realised that, for me, it’s as easy to put on a dress and leather jacket as it is to pop on a pair of running leggings. I also take inspiration from other mums like Miroslava Duma, Anine Bing and Taylor Tomasi Hill. There are so many gorgeous mums on Instagram and in the blogosphere who are leading by example when it comes to balancing work with motherhood.
I balance everything by taking a casual approach to style – my routine is not time intensive – and making sure that I have the help I need to get my work done. I don’t do it alone. I also put down my instruments at a hard time every day so that I have good quality time with my family. It’s not easy to do in a world where you’re constantly switched on, but I find having so many competing high priority items actually makes me more regimented and disciplined when I’m in the office.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have a lot going on this year but it’s all working toward a long term work goal. I’ll continue to invest in the fragrance ranges whilst experimenting with some new product lines. I love collaborating with other talented creatives and feel so grateful that people love what is being produced. It’s the customers who love what I do that really inspire me to keep creating. I’m also spending a fair bit of my time overseas introducing the brand to new markets which is so much fun! So in five years time I imagine we will have a much stronger global presence. Having the kids by my side while I travel internationally is really special right now, they’re seeing how Lumira all works as well as fitting in family time in between. In five years time, I hope I’m still doing exactly what I love – just on a larger scale.