Moodeaux’s Brianna Arps on diversity in the fragrance industry +2023

Image source: Brianna Arps
Too often, the best beauty stories are not told based solely on a person’s race, religion, gender expression, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here we pass the mic to some of the most ambitious and talented voices in the industry so they can tell, in their own words, the remarkable story of how they came to be – and how they use beauty to change the world for the better. Next: Brianna ArpsFounder and CEO of the fragrance brand Modeaux.

I’m the kid who grew up messing around in my grandmother’s vintage perfume cabinet, messing around with my mom’s lipstick, and reaching into her jewelry boxes. Being around really strong women who took pride in their looks and their self-care routines really helped me see the role beauty can play in everyday life. Watching them also helped me develop some of my own routines.

Four years ago, after being fired from an editorial position, I decided to start my own journey with my fragrance company Moodeaux.

This was a really dark time in my life and I had no idea what to do. I was living my dream life as an editor in New York City after graduating with a journalism degree, so this role felt like a career highlight for me. After it was taken away, I fell into a really deep slump and had to rely on the same self-care routines and memories from my childhood to get me through it.

Anyone who has lost their job knows that interviewing can be a very dehumanizing process. Having to get up and dress every day to prove your worth without always knowing what the future might hold was a very tiring process. On the days when I had nothing to do, I always got up, showered and put on some perfume. This was one of the rituals that got me through this extremely dark time; This is how I manifested within myself and made myself feel good while everything around me felt like it was crumbling.

After this experience, I began researching the scientific connection between scent and mood. I wanted to know how it is possible that smelling a fragrance can instantly transport you to a different place or time in your life. During my research, I found that there aren’t many black-owned fragrance houses. I decided this was something I wanted to explore, so I leaned into the process – and as they say, the rest was history.

There are some experiences that shaped my journey with Moodeaux. I’ve always had a dual focus on marketing and beauty. In college, I did internships at a couple of beauty startups that grew into full-fledged businesses, and I also have so many friends who are entrepreneurs themselves that I had a network to fall back on. After getting laid off I also ended up at another beauty company called The Lip Bar and was able to see first hand what it takes to run a successful beauty business as I spent a lot of time with the founder Melissa Butler.

Image source: Brianna Arps

Coming back to Moodeaux, I came up with the name after finding out that another brand had registered a trademark for the original name: Moody Beauty. After crying for a few hours over the fact that I basically lost a few thousand bucks only to end up with nothing, I’m now telling beauty entrepreneurs to always get legal advice before investing in getting into the fun, creative part of building a business because it can save you a lot of rejection and money — I went back to brainstorming. I knew I wanted to stick with the word “mood” so I built the name on that: “Eaux” was a play on “eau de parfum” or “eau de toilette” so I put those two together and got “Moodeaux.” ” and it stuck.

It was important to me to be a clean brand because there are so many reports showing that many of the cosmetics marketed to women of color are chock-full of unnecessary ingredients. It boils down to how the industry might view us, and I wanted to reverse that. We don’t need endocrine disruptors, we don’t need alcohol, we don’t need water. We wanted to focus on botanical extracts that can help lock in fragrance and hydrate the skin. So Moodeaux really is more than just a fragrance company; We are truly a hybrid in the way we select our ingredients and formulate our fragrances so people can experience the best of both worlds.

I want to keep opening doors for black perfumers. Why don’t black children grow up thinking, “I can be a cosmetic chemist and make perfumes”?

The idea behind the brand is really more than just spraying on perfume – it’s about changing mindsets and improving mood. We want to become a premier fragrance destination for people who want to show how they feel. When you watch a traditional perfume ad or watch a television commercial about a perfume, it’s all about how you can put something on. We rarely talk about the things that we can manifest within ourselves. We think about it, when you wake up in the morning and get dressed, what do you want to feel? What mood would you like to convey to the world? How can you be the best version of yourself? That’s our goal.

In the future, too, I would like to open doors to black perfumers. Why don’t black children grow up thinking, “I can be a cosmetic chemist and make perfumes”? Why isn’t this career path normalized as an option for us? Something I started with Moodeaux was a service component called Black in scent. We really want to use this initiative to support those who dream big and want to break into the fragrance industry. When I started I couldn’t find a person whose path I could emulate, so both Moodeaux and Black In Fragrance are here to fill in those gaps and make beauty better by making better beauty – for everyone.

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