Carnegie Mellon University

BXA Intercollege Degree Programs

Honoring Heritage Through K-Perfumery

written by
Emily Syes

K-beauty products have a high global demand, but Su min Park (BHA 2011) and husband Wonny Lee noticed an obvious absence of Asian representation in the perfume industry. In response, they founded a premium, modern fragrance brand inspired by the centuries-old history of scent and culture in Korea that resonates with an international audience. The name ELOREA is a portmanteau of the words ‘elements’ and ‘Korea.’

ELOREA began as online perfumery in 2021 and recently launched a flagship store in the summer of 2023, after raising $750,000 in pre-seed funding and $2 million in seed funding from investors. Located in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, the sleek boutique is not just a place to shop, but also build a community.

ELOREA founder.

The Korean-American couple intentionally supports the work of other Koreans and Korean-Americans by exhibiting painting and pottery throughout the store. They have also formed a partnership to hold a café, offering artisanal chocolate and perfume pairings, as well as coffee and signature drinks, for a complete sensory experience.

“It's a deeply fulfilling journey because it allows me to reconnect with my roots, tell the story of my culture and bridge the gap between my two worlds, both as an immigrant and an artist.”

Su min Park 

ELOREA’s fine fragrance, candles and hand care products are genderless. They are made in small batches, formulated using high-quality ingredients sourced from South Korea. True to K-beauty standards, the products are vegan and cruelty-free with no harmful chemicals.

There are two unique perfume collections. The signature eau de parfum line, The Elements, includes the fragrances Heaven, Earth, Water and Fire. Each scent is inspired by a trigram on the South Korean flag, which collectively represents the four elements of the world.

The Forgotten Words collection of fragrances is inspired by native Korean words that are rarely used in modern times. Each word is poetic and expressive, transportive to a moment, memory or emotion. In the collection, the beauty of these words lives on through scents named Inflorescence, Gentle Shower, Hazy Blue and Be By My Side.

ELOREA The Forgotten Words collection.

In Korean, 'Hyang-soo' translates not only to 'perfume' but also to the 'feeling of deep nostalgia about a special place,' which perfectly expresses the sentiment Park and Lee want to convey through ELOREA. They conducted in-depth research into the historical use of scents in Korea discovering a rich and often overlooked connection between scent, wellness and self-expression in their culture. “The emotional connection to my heritage has been the driving force behind our authentic approach,” Park states.

Park’s education at Carnegie Mellon had a profound influence on her career. As a Bachelor of Humanities and Arts alumna, the combination of psychology, art and photography has provided a unique skill set. Before launching the first investor-backed Korean fragrance brand to market, she started as a fashion, beauty and still-life photographer with clients including Zola, Ann Taylor, Fekkai and more.

Park recognizes, “The interdisciplinary nature of the BXA Programs at CMU encouraged me to think broadly and it has been a significant asset throughout my career. It's given me the ability to combine different skills and viewpoints, which is especially important in the creative world I operate in.”

featuring the following:

 images by Su min Park