In this edition of the scent profile, we interview one of our longest-standing employees, Aimi our Senior Procurement Officer. Aimi plays a critical role in sourcing and agreeing the best price for the raw materials required for perfume creation. We talk to her about what her role entails and the challenges involved in sourcing perfumery ingredients.

aimi heywoodName: Aimi Heywood

Job Title: Senior Procurement Officer

Favourite perfume: Marc Jacobs Decadence

Three words people would use to describe me: Gosh, that’s hard because you never see yourself as others do. I’d like to say: Happy and Calm. A past employee who retired once described me as “stoic”! I suppose I’m “part of the furniture” here!!

So what do you do at Carvansons?

“I’m Carvansons’ Senior Procurement Officer. Responsible for sourcing, buying, securing and delivery of quality fragrant chemicals and essential oils. I’m also Mentor to Muhammed Bapu who is working towards his level 4 CIPS apprenticeship so I’m responsible for passing my knowledge and good counsel to him.”

Responsible for the ongoing supply of high-quality well-priced fragrance ingredients, Aimi and her team attempt to forge great relationships with our suppliers, secure the best prices for raw materials and maintain our exceptional customer lead times.

Aimi started working at Carvansons more change than by design. In fact, her original plans had been to study to be a midwife after completing an A-level in Human Biology. After completing an HND in Textile Design she went on to manage a bar in a heavy metal nightclub and even turned a job down offered by the musician Seal.

Upon joining Carvansons, Aimi started out as an office junior.

“My role has changed dramatically over the years and so has Carvansons. When I first started the business only had 1 computer and a typewriter, with which the accounts were managed. My role initially covered answering the phone, noting down customer orders in the “duplicate book”, typing up raw material costings on supplier card. Printing drum labels from the only PC was my first experience of using a PC.”

How has your role changed over the years?

Aimi excelled in her first role so much so that John, Chairman of Carvansons, asked her to join him in the lab working on fragrance formulations. She was given the important task of using raw material costings to help generate selling prices. Once Aimi had become familiar with this, John let Aimi loose in the lab to make up the fragrances, packing samples and labelling them and posting them to the customer.

“I learnt so much from those days. John taught me how to pour, how to say the names of some of the more complicated to pronounce raw materials and even how to wash beakers correctly. I even helped out in the factory when it got busy.

Automation of formulations arrived at Carvansons and Aimi’s role changed again. Her role included the accurate inputting of formulations and labelling. As the business grew, so did the demand for fragrance samples. As a result, Aimi’s role changed once again and she became responsible for the samples library and managing sample production. Around this time Carvansons export business also took off and for Aimi another set of skills was about to be gained.

“Exporting was a big learning curve for me. I had to find out how air, sea and road shipment procedures worked and all the paperwork that went with it. Lots of templates were made and later improved as more expertise came along.”

Fast forward a few years and Aimi stepped out of the export role as Carvansons brought in an Export Manager to help further enhance and improve processes.  At this point, Aimi moved into purchasing and the rest as they say is history. Aimi started to work closely with the production manager and started to look at ways to improve systems of work and continue to build on the supplier relations as John had done.

“I was always so grateful for him to entrust me with that role and he was always there to encourage and support me whenever I needed it.”

aimi heywood

Aimi and Muhammed

She now has a central role in ensuring there sufficient raw materials within the factory to complete our orders in a timely and accurate fashion.

“I am now Senior Procurement Officer and Mentor to Mo. My role involves a lot of multi-tasking and varying priorities. I call it “spinning plates”. Not only do we need to secure stock at the right prices so that we can meet the needs of our customers, but also securing sufficient raw materials to meet the demands of our ever-hungry, constantly busy 24 hour production department. We interact a lot with different departments ensuring lead times are met.”

Building strong supplier relationships is an absolutely critical part of this role. The team spend a lot of time working to forge strong and lasting partnerships with suppliers. Aimi is driven by the sense of success that accompanies securing a good deal on raw materials and seeing stock come in on time. This can involve some innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to help get the job done. Recently she has taken great pleasure in watching Mo grow in his role as Procurement Apprentice.

“It has been great to share some of the knowledge I have amassed over the 30 years of working here with our apprentice Mo.It has been enjoyable to pass on some of the lessons learned. He has also helped bring new ideas to life on how to improve what we do here.”

You’ve worked for Carvanson for long time, how have things changed over the years?

Aimi has witnessed huge changes over her 30 years of working at Carvansons.

“We didn’t even have a forklift truck when I first started. They had to use hand trucks to move drums around the factory. I have seen the factory at Hollins grow and develop, with an old air raid shelter and the tall chimney being demolished to provide more space for the business to grow. And now in our new home, we have continued to grow and develop. From balancing scales to the introduction of automation, I have seen the company undergo dramatic and unprecedented change.”

What is challenging about your role?

Keeping up with the business’s rapid growth and delivering and maintaining the shortest possible lead times for our customers has been challenging at times. These objectives become even more challenging during periods of economic instability or when supply issues have occurred. The team are constantly reviewing how they operate and identifying ways to operate more efficiently.

“Over the past few months, we have been given a challenge to streamline and increase efficiencies in the department. This has been eye-opening and has helped us gain a really good insight into how we can improve what we do. Luckily, I work with a great team who are passionate about making everything we do a success. Meeting demand for huge shipments and seeing all other teams pulling together is always something to celebrate.”

What do you think people would be interested to know about Carvansons?

“We always give 100%. We see every customer and supplier as a vital piece of what we do and those relationships are constantly being maintained and developed. We are totally committed to getting ingredients here on time and at the lowest possible price. And I am so proud that despite COVID/Brexit and all of life’s challenges we are still committed to those relationships and giving the best possible service we can.”

In her spare time, Aimi is a drummer in a band called “Superfluity”. She is also a keen field archer.

Aimi is a critical part of the Carvansons machine and her story of development through the business is fascinating, especially as she has seen so many stages of the business’s continued growth and development.

Congratulations on your 30 years of service Aimi!