Scents and sensibility

A nose for business helped Irfanali Moledina develop natural air fresheners.

As a boy in Calgary, Irfanali Moledina knew two things: he was destined to be an entrepreneur and he loathed mosquitoes. He sprayed bug repellant enthusiastically, until he noticed that the chemical-laden product had caused permanent stains on the siding of his family home. That eye-opening moment, combined with his entrepreneurial spirit, led him to start distributing a natural insect repellant while still studying for a commerce degree at the University of Calgary.

“I always knew I wanted to be a business guy,” says Moledina, who decided that pursuing an accounting designation after university would provide a strong backbone for his entrepreneurial ambitions. Today, the 31-year-old is not only a partner of the busy Calgary public practice firm RMI & Associates, he is also the CEO and cofounder of Natural Distributions Ltd., branded as Purple Frog — the evolution of his initial foray into the insect repellant business.

Together with a business partner, Moledina developed a nontoxic insect repellant with encapsulated essential oils released through squeezable patches.

“We quickly recognized that the portable technology was applicable beyond insect repellent,” says Moledina, explaining that essential oils need a release mechanism, typically a room diffuser. “But diffusers aren’t very portable,” he adds. “[Patches] are versatile; you can stick them virtually anywhere. We have products catering to aromatherapy and freshening the air.”

Among Purple Frog’s products is a patch with an invigorating scent called Air Awakening, with peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. Other products include the Insect Shielder and hanging air fresheners for cars, all of which are sold primarily through the natural retail market in Canada, the US and abroad. Now Moledina is looking at developing nontoxic room sprays.

“People are not aware of what’s really in the products they are inhaling,” he says. “That stain on my parents’ house is still there today! If it can do that, imagine what it does to your body.”

Moledina wants to bring his natural products to the mainstream retail market, which means busy days and nights juggling Purple Frog and his accounting practice. He credits the support of his wife, Naurin, and his partners and staff at both businesses. “I’ll also often put an Air Awakening patch on my shirt collar. It keeps me going [on] late nights.”