Aishath Rasheed (Aish) and Emau Ahmed Saleem (Immi), the founders behind local business Vilunü had a drive to do something different when they began the initial stages of their company.
Aish and Immi both wanted to build something of their own in addition to their full-time jobs, and found an opportunity in the market to create scents that were unique to Maldives, that were inspired by their memories of Maldivian childhood homes and life on our islands.
Vilunü products are designed to evoke memories and nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the Maldives. Aish says that they have gotten comments from customers along the lines of, “this scent reminds me of Maama” and “this reminds me of childhood memories.”
Vilunü was officially launched in 2020 before the pandemic, but the two friends had been researching scents of the Maldives since 2017. When asked about their research and fine-tuning process and why it took so long, they revealed that finding the correct formulas for their products was a rigorous and long process which involved a lot of trial and error and testing.
The two spent the first two years personally researching different plants, flowers and roots brought from various areas of the Maldives. They said that to see if the scents could be used in products such as hand creams, room spray, scented beads, and reed diffusers. Afterwards, they conducted focus groups to test and filter out different scent blends that resonated most with Maldivians.
Their products are meticulously tested in different environmental conditions before they are released to the public. Aish and Immi also say that they have included sustainable packaging in their products wherever they can. Their hand cream products come in a tube made of 50% Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic. The hand cream labels are made of a biodegradable material and all their paper packaging avoids any type of lamination films in order to forgo the plastic layer on top. Recently, they’ve also switched to tissue paper printed using soy-ink.
Additionally, customers of Vilunü who return used room spray bottles or diffuser refill bottles, will also get a 10% discount off their next purchase.
For a small business run from a home, their commitment to eco-friendly packaging is a testament to how much modern, small businesses in the Maldives care for sustainability.