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Pinrose Tries Selling Perfume by Algorithm, No Charlize Therons Required

Pinrose fragrances
Pinrose fragrancesPhotograph by Horsefeather Labs

Some of the most glamorous ads on television or in magazines belong to perfume makers. Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron, and other A-list stars are used to conjure up a sense of fantasy that helps people feel better about spending hundreds of dollars on a few ounces of scented liquid. It’s an effective, not-terribly-original way to sell a premium product, and also a reminder that the perfume sellers have the fat margins needed to pay spokespeople millions of dollars.

A pair of Stanford Graduate School of Business alumni—sound familiar?—have come up with a lower-cost, less-glitzy approach to selling perfume that they think is more in keeping with the lifestyles of modern women. Erika Shumate and Christine Luby launched their startup, Pinrose, this week with 10 scents that cost $50 each.