Courtesy of Moodeaux
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
Brianna Arps, the CEO and founder of MOODEAUX, a clean, luxury fragrance brand, says she first experienced perfumes like many people growing up: going through anyone from a mother's to a grandmother's vanity area. "I was that really curious, nosy kid who would play with my grandma's vintage perfumes all the time," she says, adding that she learned all about scent and layering from the elders in her family.
The beauty brand entrepreneur decided to create her own signature line in her adulthood after transitioning from her work in the journalism field. After facing a layoff, she sought comfort at the time by leaning into her beauty rituals. "Through my research, particularly with fragrance, I really came to understand the lack of Black women who are starting fragrance lines, and just Black people in general in the fragrance world," she says. "I'm someone who's very solutions oriented, so I decided why not just give it a try and mesh my love of marketing, branding, and storytelling with what I thought was a need and a void in the market."
MOODEAUX launched in December 2019 after Arps worked to get the name trademarked. The business owner's first brand name idea was already taken, but she still insisted on having "mood" in the moniker. "At the end of the day, when you pick up a fragrance or when you decide on a fragrance to wear, you're really going off how you feel," Arps says. "A lot of traditional fragrance marketing is very implicit, it's very much so like, 'let's market based on a persona,' rather than really internalizing what you're able to manifest from within." She decided on MOODEAUX by combining the word "mood" with a play on the French word for two, "deux."
Courtesy of Moodeaux
A Personal Journey
The year leading up to MOODEAUX's launch, Arps used her own savings to research, buy her first samples, and hire people to help bring the product to life. From there, she won non-dilutive grants and attended pop-ups to continue to get her brand to market. She has also used traditional marketing efforts to grow her business and social media to create community and a driving force for more visibility. "The cool thing about us and something that I think has worked to our benefit is, since I had that idea in 2018, I've been taking my personal following along for the ride," she says. "A lot of those people that follow me on my personal account, I've surveyed them, I've gotten their feedback directly."
Expanding the Brand
In May of this year (on Arps' birthday, in fact), MOODEAUX made its debut in retail at Credo Beauty, becoming the first Black-owned fragrance brand to launch at the store—but the founder and CEO has no intention of her line being the last. "While it's exciting, I definitely feel as though it's a responsibility that we have to show our value, unfortunately like Black women, we still have to show our value—even though, one: we're starting businesses at four times the national rate," she says. "And then, number two, we consume so much, we spend so much; [over 20 percent] of fragrance sales in the United States are attributed to Black women."
You need to have something in you that speaks to you on a consistent basis, that prevents you from wanting to give up.
—— Brianna Arps
Arps credits true inclusivity as the benefit to her partnership with Credo Beauty, as her brand is embedded alongside other clean assortments on the market. Aligning with the retailer and having the same value system has allowed Arps and her brand to thrive from day one. "I think when we launched, we were the number one SKU in stores and online that day, which was the first time a fragrance brand ever did that," she says. "Again, showcasing not only fragrances' potential, but our potential."
The CEO wants to continue to evolve the perfume space with transparency. "When I was deciding to launch a fragrance brand, I could never recall a time when I would go to a fragrance counter and just ask the attendant or the person who was selling fragrances what was in it," she says. All of the MOODEAUX fragrances are IFRA compliant, meaning they are safe for human application, and made of natural oils.
"I really wanted to work with oils that carry longevity and have the chemical makeup and the properties to really adhere scent to skin," Arps says of these ingredients, which feature fatty acid chain structures. Arps puts intention behind every ingredient to evoke feelings, too. "MOODEAUX 'Worthy' Perfume ($32, moodeaux.com) was designed to feel and smell like a big, warm hug to yourself," she says. "It's a very comforting, grounding scent." Within this fragrance, customers can find white tea, orange blossom, and lavender, just to name a few ingredients, as Arps says aromatherapists use scents like these to "trigger good thoughts and influence moods."
Courtesy of Moodeaux
"Flaunt How You Feel"
When thinking about the impact she wants to have in her customers' lives, Arps has one big goal: "I want this brand to feel like a safe haven." While she's familiar with the saying, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," she also believes that "true beauty is felt and not seen." She aims for her customers to follow her business' "flaunt how you feel" mantra and experience everything from a grounding emotion to a self-affirming one when wearing her fragrances. Arps says that when her customers embrace this thought process, she knows she's doing her job in her industry.
Arps also follows several mantras as an entrepreneur: "I'm human, and I still experience downsides and downturns of life," she says, but "a natural knack to perseverance and wanting to succeed" inspires her. "I think this is applicable to not just people who own businesses, but those who decide to be teachers, doctors, lawyers: You need to have something in you that speaks to you on a consistent basis, that prevents you from wanting to give up," she says.
The desire to expand her brand's offerings is keeping Arps going these days. She aims for MOODEAUX to become the "go-to fragrance destination for millennials and Gen Zers, who just crave an outlet to express themselves through scents, whether that's personal fragrance, whether that's body care, whether that's home goods," she says. "We really want to extend our mission in a plethora of ways so that we're meeting people where they're at, and really servicing them in ways in which they desire."