Image source: Brianna Arps
Too often, the best beauty stories are not told, based solely on a person’s skin color, religion, gender expression, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here, we’re handing the mic to some of the industry’s most ambitious and talented voices, so they can share, in their own words, the amazing story of how they were born and how they’re using beauty to change the world for the better. Following: Brianna Arps, founder and CEO of the fragrance brand Moodeaux.
I’m that kid who grew up playing in my grandmother’s vintage perfume cabinet, joking with my mom’s lipstick and walking into their jewelry boxes. Being with really strong women who took pride in their looks and self-care routines growing up really helped me identify the role beauty could play in everyday life. Watching them also helped me create some of my own routines.
Four years ago, after being fired from a role in the publishing industry, I decided to start my journey with my own fragrance company, Moodeaux.
That was a really dark time in my life and I had no idea what I was going to do. I was living the life of my dreams as a publisher in New York City after graduating from journalism, so that role was the pinnacle of my career for me. After he was taken away, I fell into a really deep breakdown and had to rely on those same self-care routines and memories from my childhood to make it through.
Anyone who has lost their job knows that the interview can be a very dehumanizing process. Having to get up and get dressed every day to prove yourself without knowing what your future might look like, over and over again, has been a very grueling process. On days when I had nothing to do, I always made sure to get up, take a shower and sprinkle some perfume. That was one of the rituals that made me go through that extremely dark period; it was the way I manifested inside of me and made myself feel good as everything around me seemed to be crumbling.
After that experience, I started researching the scientific connection between fragrance and mood. I wanted to know how it was possible that smelling a perfume could instantly transport you to another place or time in your life. During my research, I realized that there aren’t many black-owned fragrance houses. I decided it was something I wanted to explore, so I approached the process and, as they say, the rest was history.
Image source: Brianna Arps
There are some experiences that have shaped my journey with Moodeaux. I have always had a double focus on marketing and beauty. In college, I did internships at a few beauty startups that have grown into full-fledged companies, and I also have so many friends who are founders in their own right, so I had a network that I could tap into. After being fired, I also landed at another beauty company called The Lip Bar and got to see firsthand what it takes to run a successful beauty business as I spent a lot of time with the founder, Melissa Butler.
To get back to Moodeaux, the name came to mind after discovering that another brand had filed a trademark for the original name: Moody Beauty. After crying for a few hours over the fact that I essentially lost a few thousand dollars just to end up with nothing, I now tell beauty businesswomen to always get a legal solution before getting into the fun and creative part of building a business. because it can save you a lot of waste and money – I’m back to brainstorming. I knew I wanted to stick to the word “mood”, so I built that name around that: “Eaux” was a game of “eau de parfum” or “eau de toilette”, so I put those two together and I got ” Moodeaux “and froze.
I want to keep opening the doors to black perfumers. Why when black guys are growing up, aren’t they thinking, “Can I be a cosmetic chemist and make perfumes”? Why isn’t that career trajectory normalized as an option for us?
It was important for me to be a clean brand because there are so many reports showing that many of the cosmetics marketed for women of color are chock full of toxic chemicals. This boils down to how the industry might see us and I wanted to change my mind. We don’t need endocrine disruptors, we don’t need alcohol, we don’t need water. We wanted to focus on plant-based botanicals that can help retain scent and hydrate the skin. So Moodeaux is really more than just a fragrance company; we are truly a hybrid in the way we select our ingredients and formulate our scents for people to experience the best of both worlds.
The idea behind the brand is more than just spraying a perfume: it’s about changing mindsets and improving moods. We want to become a top-notch fragrance destination for people looking to show off how they feel. When you are watching an advertisement for a traditional perfume or if you are watching TV and you see an advertisement about a perfume, it is all about attracting something. We rarely talk about the things we can manifest within us. Let’s think about when you wake up in the morning and are getting dressed, what do you want to feel? What is the atmosphere you want to convey to the world? How can you be the best version of yourself? This is our goal.
In the future, I want to continue opening doors to black perfumers. Why when black guys are growing up, aren’t they thinking, “Can I be a cosmetic chemist and make perfumes”? Why isn’t that career trajectory normalized as an option for us? So something I launched alongside Moodeaux was a service component called Black In Fragrance. We really want to use this initiative to be able to provide support, resources and money to those who have big dreams and want to enter the fragrance industry. When I started out, I couldn’t find a person whose trajectory I could emulate, so both Moodeaux and Black In Fragrance are here to fill those gaps and enhance beauty by creating better beauty, for everyone.