Argentinian Entrepreneur Marta Harff Knows the Sweet Smell of Success

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work showing

Marta shows Rania and me around her flagship store in Buenos Aires, Nov. 2013.

In Buenos Aires, Marta Harff is a familiar name.

Marta has been an entrepreneur for 40+ years and has always been ahead of the curve. Today, at age 65, her company Perfumumbue has seven franchises while she runs its flagship store.

Her success has been hard-earned and from what she merely calls “survival.” Marta was the child of German and Polish immigrants; her mother was sick when she was young so she was sent away to be raised by her grandmother “Oma”, who was “modern” and ahead of her time in education and mindset. Marta had to work from an early age and put herself through college. She is a breast cancer survivor, has been through a divorce, remarried and had her first and only child at age 47 (by choice!). Now, she is very strict in keeping her priorities and schedule, and is very happy with the life she has created. She keeps every morning for herself, she exercises with her husband, has time with him and they have breakfast with their son.

We had the great pleasure of being shown around her store, scents, products and even gifted with some of her incredible items last November 2013 in Buenos Aires. During our time with Marta, this is what we learned from her…

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work bottles 2

Why You Must Embrace YOUR MISTAKES

“Mistakes, everybody will do. The greatest enemy is fear – fear of mistakes. One can survive if you can learn from your mistakes, but many people don’t allow themselves to make mistakes.

What is the difference between someone who goes on in spite of fear, and person who doesn’t?

You have to have a balance between being critical with oneself, and allowing to repair – the process of learning. This is the process of learning! Anyone who is learning makes mistakes; it’s impossible not to make mistakes. And you discover solutions that were not in your original project or plan because you a made a mistake.”

“This is most important to tell to women; the best thing for a woman is to start from the bottom on her own project, and learn and grow from it.”

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work window

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work bottles 3

MOVE, Move & Keep moVing

“My grandmother said  “Movement produces movement.” So this is now my advice to others because fear is what makes you paralyzed. Do you know in Latin what means stupid? To be paralyzed. So with movement, with all the energy, will give direction!

This was my motivation – I had to select my career and do the things I was able to do. I had to study at university and work at the same time; I had to be both an accountant and public administrator. I was a good student. I had to prepare. When I started succeeding, it was step by step – doing things in order to survive – that was the main thing. I am a great survivor – in all roles, physically, emotionally and also working. For me the immediate was not important. I was working for the long-term.”

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work bottles


“The pressure to be successful was not in my goals. I just wanted to survive, to earn, to have tranquility, to help my family, to have a good life. I had no help – financially or at all, so whatever I achieved was from working. So this was the goal; I wanted to make money. I say it without shame! Many work for free, but that is not for me. I am hard working, I have no fear about that, and I don’t know any other way; all my team does this.”

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work Rania Anderson


“I also think in my career I had no problems because I was a woman. I got a lot of recognition because I am a woman.”

Marta Harff Buenos Aires Perfumumbue The Way Women Work front of the flagship store

Erin Risner

Director of Community Engagement

Writer. Creative. Brand Strategist. Content Curator. Social Media and Marketing Maven. Passionate about connecting with women around the world and telling their success stories.