- Durham OnAir
Durham man kicked out of college and now he's the co-founder of a successful fragrance business
“Getting kicked out of college was not the best thing that could've happened to me but the experience taught me some valuable life lessons.”
From getting kicked out of college in America at the age of 23 to building a multi-million-pound business, Thomas Gibson is an entrepreneur to watch.
Fast forward six years and his fragrance business is set to turnover £3million in its first 12 months. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Durham-based businessman.
Back in 2016, Thomas was studying for a degree in Marketing with hopes of one day becoming successful enough to run his own business but that felt like a pipedream after being kicked off the course and sent back home to England, as it meant his US visa was curtailed.
It was a tough time for Thomas - but thankfully he says that setback was the lesson he needed on the resilience required to become a fruitful business owner - and today runs designer dupe fragrance firm Noted. Aromas, alongside his brother, James.
Just over 13 years ago, Thomas and his family moved to Orlando after his parents wanted a more relaxed pace of life, while Thomas and his brother were initially keen to qualify as professional golfers but that dream wasn’t to be, so the pair enrolled at a nearby community college.
Growing up, Thomas watched his parents run successful businesses - and aspired to enjoy their levels of success - and felt that studying Marketing would help to equip him with the skills he needed to allow a business to flourish.
However, after missing a week of online college classes - with every intention of catching up, Thomas’ tutor kicked him off the course immediately, which meant he was forced to move back to London with a few days’ notice.
“It was a really tough time, it was scary. I didn’t really have a lot of time to think - I just had to sort flights and find a place to live back home,” he said.
“I then ended up in a few different jobs during that time including working for a clothing wholesale company that was selling on end-of-season lines to retailers, before briefly setting up a confidential document shredding service, which we sold on in 2019.”
But it was in 2020 when the 29-year-old and his brother had an idea for a business - branching out into high-quality designer dupe fragrances.
“We’d gotten interested in home and personal fragrance and between us, came to a realisation that there was a real gap in the market for designer dupe fragrances, that were high-quality and smelt as close - if not the same - as their more pricier counterparts but cost a fraction of the price.
“The past couple of years have been incredibly hard for people up and down the country, so we wanted to create something that was luxurious but the price point was accessible to everyone - and that’s where the idea for Noted. Aromas came from,” he said.
After more than a year of rigorous product development and testing, Noted. Aromas launched this summer and is already close to the 10,000 orders mark and currently employs 13 members of staff, who all live local to the company’s Durham headquarters. The most crucial hire was an experienced perfumer in the industry, who fully understood how to create the perfumes, and get them as close as possible to the designer versions.
“We have been absolutely delighted with the initial success of the brand, it’s been quite overwhelming actually and the positive feedback we’ve had from customers makes it all so worthwhile for us,” he said.
“Starting up your own business is pretty daunting but I’m at a time in my life where I feel strong enough to do it. Everything that’s happened up until this point has led me to where I am today, and although getting kicked out of college was not the best thing that could've happened to me, the experience taught me some valuable life lessons.
“I would encourage anyone with an entrepreneurial streak in them, who might have been dealt a blow, to not let a negative experience hold them back. It’s all a lesson and gives you the perspective and experience you need to move forward in life.
“All good business owners need the skills, a strong work ethic but also encounter some form of difficulty to equip them for what’s thrown their way. It isn’t for the faint of heart.”
Noted. Aromas has a whole host of fragrances inspired by everyone’s favourite designer perfumes - meaning everyone can smell like their favourite celebrity for less.
From Monte Carlo, inspired by Molly-Mae's favourite perfume Baccarat Rouge, to New York, inspired by Le Labo's Santal 33, 50ml fragrances start from just £19.99.
To find out more about Noted. Aromas, visit: https://notedaromas.co.uk/