Preparing to start a new life in a country thousands of miles away from home is a daunting prospect at the best of times without a volcanic eruption and a global pandemic thrown into the mix.
But that is exactly what Kimberly Hutcheon had to contend with as she uprooted her life in the Philippines to join the love of her life 6,640 miles away in Aberdeen.
For most, coping with so many setbacks would simply be too much to handle.
Instead, Kimberly used it as the motivation to pursue her lifelong dream of setting up her own home fragrance business, Hexagon Scents.
“It was a tough time before I moved to Aberdeen in February last year,” said Kimberly, 32.
“I was in the Philippines waiting for my visa to get issued when the Taal volcano erupted.
“Luckily we weren’t living in the high-risk area of the volcano although some of my friends were evacuated.
“Then just after I moved to Aberdeen, the pandemic happened so it was like “what is happening to the world”.
Turning negative into positive
All the hope and anticipation Kimberly felt as she stepped off the plane to set up her life with her husband Nico in Aberdeen soon turned to worry and anxiety as she, like the rest of the world, was told to stay at home to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
“I got really down because I was so obsessed with getting a job but then the pandemic happened so there weren’t many job vacancies and if there were, the competition was really tight,” said Kimberly.
“So I was financially dependent on my husband which was a hard pill to swallow for me because I’ve been working since I was 16 and I used to be the breadwinner in my family back in the Philippines.”
Rather than wallow about the situation, Kimberly decided to keep herself busy by making her own candles and wax melts.
“I’ve always been obsessed with home fragrance,” said Kimberly.
“When I go to the supermarket, you’ll always find me in the home fragrance aisle.
“When the shops were closed and I couldn’t get my hands on any home fragrance products, I started making my own candles and wax melts which became a therapy to me.”
The power of scent
What started as lockdown hobby soon turned into something bigger.
“At first most of my customers were friends and family but since I started advertising on social media, mainly on Instagram, I’ve been getting lots of orders from other parts of the UK,” said Kimberly.
“This is my first business venture ever.
“I’ve never had any business experience as I worked as a legal assistant in the Philippines but I did some research and You Tube really helped and I got moral support from my husband and friends and family as well.”
Invoking memories through scent is one of the reasons why Kimberly’s collections have proved so popular.
“The best sellers have been the perfume inspired ones as a lot of people say it reminds them of someone or something or a memory,” said Kimberly.
The name Hexagon Scents also has a very special meaning to Kimberly.
“Although I’m originally from the Philippines, I moved to Norway five years ago to work as an au pair and it was where I met my husband Nico who is from Aberdeen,” said Kimberly.
“We actually met at nightclub called Hexagon in Stavanger hence the name of the business.
“And when we got married last year in our own back garden, we actually had a hexagon shaped wedding arch.”
Pumpkin, spice and all things nice
From dusk till dawn, Kimberly can be found in the spare room of her home perfecting her perfume and home tidy fragrance inspired candle and wax melt formulas.
“Wax melts are pretty easy to make but the candles are very tricky,” said Kimberly.
“It’s not a cheap hobby or a business to have as you need to go through a very lengthy process of formulating and testing but it’s worth it.”
Being a sustainable brand is also very important to Kimberly.
“All my products are made with vegan friendly and cruelty free ingredients and we have eco-conscious packaging,” said Kimberly.
“All our packaging materials could either be biodegradable, recyclable or reusable.”
As the dark nights creep in, Kimberly hopes her fragrances will bring some comfort to homes across the area.
“I’ve just launched my Autumn collection which is all about spicy, cinnamon and pumpkin smells,” said Kimberly.
Excited and optimistic for the future, Kimberly hopes to stock her products in shops, cafes and salons and is considering employing someone to help with the demand.
“To open my own shop would be the dream,” said Kimberly.
For now, Kimberly is taking it one step at a time.
“One of the things I learned during the pandemic is to enjoy the little things and the little victories,” said Kimberly.