Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will,” notes one of the greatest books that describes the power of scent — Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Albeit a dark and morbid fictional plot, the narrative’s observation is not too far from the truth. You realise that as you enter the office of Eternis Fine Chemicals, on the tenth floor of a corporate complex in Mumbai. It is an oasis of calm, suffused by soothing fragrances.
There are several bottles with transparent liquids on the table and founder Rajen Mariwala invites us to take a whiff. Each bottle bears labels with indecipherable words, which call to mind school’s chemistry lessons, but Mariwala’s enthusiasm as he explains the contents of each is very relatable.
Tracing the roots
India Inc is all too familiar with the Mariwala family history, which traces its name to pepper trading — mariwala in Gujarati means one who deals in pepper — in the early 1900s. Today, the name is the keeper of several successful businesses, including FMCG giant Marico. But, Eternis — from ‘eternal’ in old French, is a brand that is obscure, as the founder prefers to stay out of the limelight. After some persistence, a virtue he values, he agreed to speak with Outlook Business and share how Eternis Fine Chemicals became one of the leading players in this very niche space.
“I think the journey essentially started some time around 1992,” he says. Using their knowledge from the legacy oleochemicals business (chemistry of plant and animal fats), Eternis was founded on the advice of an industry friend. India was adjusting to