Dressed in a red jersey dress,  Michelle Asence Fontelera greeted me with  a big smile, beso and a hug, “Paulyne, you’re looking fab! Glad you could make it.”   It was the 15th anniversary of local fragrance brand Zen Zest and  its  beautiful CEO was busy receiving guests to the by invitation only afternoon affair at Le Petit Souffle, Century Mall.  The romantic french country setting with crawling vines , lush faux trees and delicate white furniture was the perfect setting for the event.   Pastel colored flowers adorned the long table where the full line of products were displayed for everyone to smell and choose from.  Yes, the first order of the day was to pick out your favorite scents from the wonderful spread of  Zen Zest fragrances.  I, however, decided to leave the bevy of eager girls who were sniffing and smelling the bottled delights and sat with my friend for a short tête-á-tête.

At the 15th anniversary celebration of Zen Zest with Sari Yap and the company’s CEO Michelle Fontelera


A Passion for Potions

Michelle always loved fragrances.   As a child she would raid her uncle’s closet and get her hands on his collection of perfumes.  She played with them like toys—mixing the different scents and creating new ones.  When she grew up she decided to take her interest seriously and with P350,000 as her initial capital, started her very own fragrance business.   “I knew NOTHING about how to start, run or manage a business.  What I knew for sure was that there was a market for organic products because prior to launching Zen Zest I sold home made soaps (which were consigned to me) at bazaara.  Every last piece sold out even before the bazaar was finished.  I thought to myself, there’s a potential for locally made body products. Why don’t I make my own brand? With the encouragement and support of my mom, I hired a part time chemist, learned how to concoct scents and the rest is history. You can say that Zen Zest was born in our kitchen. It really was!”  shared Michelle excitedly.

Take your pick from Zen Zest’s body essentials. I love the vanilla scrub!


Innovation is Key

Over the years, Michelle has learned the in’s and out’s of the business both by making mistakes and achieving successes.  She prides herself in being a self-taught entrepreneur who is not afraid to ask the advice of other businesspeople.  On the contrary, she says it’s a must to learn from others.  To keep her brand relevant,  she keeps abreast with the latest trends on all social media platforms, travels to different parts of the world to learn the latest technology in perfume making and seeks advice from her fashion maven friends. All these contribute to keeping Zen Zest a competitive brand.

“There are always new competitors and daily challenges.  What make us different from the other brands is that we are the pioneer in the mass premium market.  The key to our success, however, is constant innovation.  We started out with just a handful of body sprays.  Now we carry an extensive line of eau de toilette, eau de parfume, body wash, and body scrub. We also have  aromatherapy products which consists of our room fragrance, linen fragrance, home fragrance oils, rolls and massage oils, and home diffusers.    Recently we also introduced our baby line with the Kramer family as our endorsers.”  The products have also been given a make-over via new packaging designs  and soon Zen Zest will relaunch their virgin coco oil line.

Body sprays, home fragrances and aromatherapy oils


After 15 years what are you thankful for, I asked her. “To this day, I can’t believe how far I’ve taken Zen Zest.  But I’m not alone in this journey. Truly, it’s by His will that I am able to do all these. I’m also thankful to my mom who pushed me to always do my best, to my team who helps me execute the vision for the label and to my husband and two kids who keep me grounded and inspired. ”

Their chocolate scented kitchen spray masks the smell of fish and leaves the room smelling like a cafe!


I had finished my bowl of fresh greens and half of my pasta dish and it was also time for Michelle to play her part as gracious host to the rest of the party.  So off I went to the buffet of captivating scents and did my share of sniffing and smelling and filled my goodie bag to the brim.

Happy 15th Year Anniversary Zen Zest! Cheers!


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With a pocketful of glitter,








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  1. I haven’t tried men’s cologne with all natural ingredients, free from nasty chemicals, free from artificial fragrances and is never ever tested on animals. I like a cruelty free product that is fresh and slightly sweet but most of all I want it locally made.

  2. I would most definitely like to try their kitchen spray line and am already excited about their virgin coco oil line!!!

  3. I love both colognes and EDT. With Zen Zest line of products , it seems that I want to try all. Everything looks great with the new package…body scrub, linen fragrances, Arometherapy, etc.

    I tried already their linen fragrances and I can say it’s perfect. I’m still using it until now.

    More powe to Zen Zezt. Happy 15 years Anniversary.

  4. I can’t think of what I will try first. Way back in my College days, I tried their colognes which my mom was the one who bought it for me. I love their cool scents.

    Now, aside from colognes they already have EU de Toilette which perfectly match my everyday living. Also, their colognes will be good for my active Grade 5 daughter. I want also to try their other line of products like the home fragrances and their aromatherapy oil which for sure will give me a relaxing feeling.

    Smelling good for yourself and your home is not splurging. Zen Zest has it all.

    Thank you The Busy Queen P for sharing this knowledegable article. Goodluck to both of you!

  5. Congratulations Zen Zest on your 15 years. Looking forward for more fragrances.

    I would definitely try their Men’s Collection whichl I’ll not be out budgeted 🙂 Also, I want to include their home fragrances and body scrub which I can recommend for my dear mother.

    Thank you The Busy Queen P for sharing this to your avid followers. More power!

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