When Brianna Arps, founder of the indie fragrance label MOODEAUX, was laid off from her role at a women's media publication in 2018, the loss impacted her confidence and state of mind. “As someone who had always wanted to be a writer and to be in beauty, I thought I had reached such a pinnacle, and then my world came crashing down,” she recalls.
Unsure of how the next chapter of her life would unfold, Brianna turned to the accessory in her beauty ritual that faithfully pulled her out of even the darkest moment: perfume. “There's a connection between our sense of smell and its ability to make us feel things, whether that's empowered, motivated, inspired, or like ‘that girl,’ she tells xoNecole. “When you put on your favorite scent, you just feel something.”
Each day, her favorite fragrances would serve as a daily reminder that while things were tough at the moment, she was still worth betting on. “I'm still worth giving myself a shot, and I'm not going to just lay down and die. I'm gonna get up and fight for a new reality.”
After recognizing the lack of visible, Black-owned fragrance brands in the industry, Brianna decided to merge her love of beauty with her marketing and editorial savvy to create a clean, luxury perfume label herself — and in October 2021, MOODEAUX was officially launched.
Her signature scent "Worthy" has garnered a devout following for its unique and calming notes that adorn your senses in white tea, orange blossom, lavender, vanilla, amber, and rose, complete with the earthy, raw pairing of musk.
This cozy, yet inviting fragrance has been coined “a hug in a bottle” by its customers, a title that Brianna lovingly accepts. “'Worthy' is so special because all of the notes inside the fragrance have meaning,” she says. “I designed 'Worthy' to smell and feel like a big hug to yourself. It's warm and wraps your senses in a cozy blanket, but also gives off some sex appeal. It's a sexy, warm scent.”
MOODEAUX is disrupting the fragrance industry by putting the intention and meaning back into the space. With a message that encourages its customers to “Flaunt How You Feel,” Brianna shares that MOODEAUX has become the physical manifestation of walking in one’s full power, unapologetically. “It carries the sentiments of self-expression, individualism, and not being afraid to go against the status quo, regardless of what people may say or think,” she says.
In January, MOODEAUX released its highly anticipated IntenScenual™ Fine Fragrance Collection. Blending ‘intentionality’ and ‘sensuality,’ Worthy IntenScenual™ Eau de Parfum ($98 USD) is the same scent that you’re grown to know and love, only bigger, long-lasting, and pairs perfectly with the best-selling Worthy SuperCharged SkinScent™.
“Everyone deserves something different. A sophisticated signature scent that reminds us how powerful we truly are.”
xoNecole: When I think about the name of your perfume, ‘Worthy,’ it sounds like a daily affirmation when putting on your favorite fragrance. Could you share why you chose the name ‘Worthy’ for your product?
Brianna Arps: It's kind of twofold: When I lost my job, it was really tough. I was depressed for a really long time and struggled for a really long time. The notion was in reminding myself through a daily affirmation that I'm worthy of giving myself a shot, I'm worthy of picking myself back up, I'm worthy of creating the life of my dreams, regardless of what might happen out there.
"Worthy" started out personal but it’s the notion that you are worthy of clean, luxury beauty. You are worthy of all of these things that, in pockets of the beauty industry, we don't really see. We're all about helping people flaunt how they feel, and at the very least, people need to know their worth and that they are worthy of all they desire.
"'Worthy' started out personal but it’s the notion that you are worthy of clean, luxury beauty. You are worthy of all of these things that, in pockets of the beauty industry, we don't really see. We're all about helping people flaunt how they feel, and at the very least, people need to know their worth and that they are worthy of all they desire.
xoN: You’ve been the recipient of a number of awards like the Sephora Accelerant Program and others. With funding being one of the biggest hurdles for Black founders in particular, what advice you would give to new founders who may be looking to apply for grants in the future?
BA: I started MOODEAUX and the initial stages with my savings account, I didn't have a job anymore, but I was passionate and convinced that this was something special. I really exhausted a lot of my options to get this MOODEAUX off the ground.
There is a lot of opportunity out here; it sounds so cliche, but it's so true. But with so much opportunity comes increased competition to get your name out there and be seen. The biggest piece of advice that I have is to own your story and to really understand what makes you unique. Really understand how you're going to tell not only your founder story but your brand and product story too. How you convey them to the general public and to someone who is primed to give you a big check matters.
It's not enough to talk about the product because in reality, especially in the beauty industry, everything can be reverse-engineered. So instead of leaning on the product, these people want to know who you are, what your brand is about, and how you're changing lives and building community. If you can tell that story in a compelling and unique way, you are light years ahead of others who aren't thinking that way and you have a better shot of reaping the success that you wish to see.
"I started MOODEAUX and the initial stages with my savings account, I didn't have a job anymore, but I was passionate and convinced that this was something special. The biggest piece of advice that I have is to own your story and to really understand what makes you unique. Really understand how you're going to tell not only your founder story but your brand and product story too."
xoN: What was one of the biggest challenges you experienced while building MOODEAUX and what did you learn from it?
BA: When I first started Moodeaux, it had a totally different name called Moode Beaute. In hindsight, it makes me laugh because I hate that name now, but I was gungho about it at the time. I consider myself to be a creative person and people who are creative often dive right in with visuals, colors, and fonts but get so consumed by the creative aspect, we completely neglected the legal aspect.
When I got down to the trademarking, my lawyer was like, "I am so sorry to tell you, but someone has filed for a very similar name, two weeks before us." I was devastated. We had spent thousands of dollars on marketing, branding, and content creation that will never see the light of day because we didn't have our legal house in order first. It's something that I learned from, so now every time I have an idea, I’m looking to see if it's trademarked. I'm always taking that initial lesson and keeping it at the forefront of my mind.
xoN: In many ways, your brand is a pioneer and among the “firsts” within the fragrance industry. How are you looking to use your platform and brand to leave the door open for others looking to enter the space?
BA: There's a lot of pressure to be a ‘first’ but, if I don't empower, inspire, or convince someone to take up this type of career path, then I failed. No matter how many bottles of perfume I sell or retailers I’m in, it doesn't matter if I don't show someone who never saw this as an opportunity that is possible.
We have a service component of our brand called, Black In Fragrance, where we provide, resources, education, and support to Black women in the fragrance space. We've even provided three grants last year to Black women who have fragrance labels to help kickstart their dreams. The presence of Black entrepreneurs within the fragrance industry is growing, but there's still not enough. If there's something that I’m going to do, it’s tell somebody to pick up this career. I'm going to tell them that it's possible that they can do it and I'm going to be there for them. You're not a good first if you're the last.
xoN: What do you hope your customers will experience when they pick up a bottle of perfume from MOODEAUX?
BA: I want them to feel seen, heard, and represented. Intentionality is something that’s at the core of everything we do. We want to remind you to take up space because so often. Black women shrink themselves to fit into boxes and molds that weren't even designed for us to fit into as a survival tactic, but in reality, we don't have to. There's so much value and uniqueness that we can bring to the world when we are simply ourselves; when we simply flaunt how we feel.
That's what I want people to feel when they come across us. I don't want it to feel like an ‘It Girls Only’ club or anything like that. Whatever you identify as I want you to feel as though you have the room to take up space here.
For more of Brianna, follow her on Instagram @Briannaarps.
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Featured image courtesy of Brianna Arps