MOODEAUX Founder Brianna Arps Is Reshaping Fragrance

Aiming to simplify the fragrance buying experience by accessorizing your mood with a signature scent, MOODEAUX is the clean luxury fragrance label to keep on your radar.

“Worthy,” the label’s debut scent inspired by self-care, captures the essence of empowerment and the affirmation “I’m worthy.” Packed inside of a limited-edition stash bag, the perfume contains notes of white tea and orange blossom which complement the woodsy accords of dry musk and vanilla woods. Ingredients like fractionated coconut oil and apricot oil aid in fighting dryness and restoring the skin. Meanwhile, the formula additionally includes lavender, red rose, leafy greens, and amber scents.

Founder Brianna Arps came up with the idea of the brand in 2018, growing obsessed with the impact scent has on emotion and memory. “Despite not knowing much, I decided to pave a new lane and create something different. Today, MOODEAUX makes it more meaningful than ever to indulge in the art of perfumery — without alcohol, water, or dyes,” Arps tells us. She is also the founder of Black In Fragrance, which aids Black perfumers and Black-owned fragrance brands by building a global ecosystem of professionals and retailers.

Last month, MOODEAUX made its nationwide launch at clean beauty retailer Credo Beauty, available to purchase both online and in-store at its New York locations. To learn more about the brand, we talked to entrepreneur and founder Brianna Arps about her love for fragrance, debut scent, Black In Fragrance, and more. See below for our conversation.

Many of us are introduced to several perfumes and colognes before ultimately developing a nose for what we enjoy. How did you originally fall in love with fragrance?

I credit everything to the two most important, best-smelling women in my life: my mom and grandma! In particular, though, my grandma — being a curious, fiercely opinionated kid, she always gave me permission to “flaunt how I feel” by experimenting with and layering scents at her vanity. Those were some of the best times we’ve had together, as it was back then that I first started developing my own ideals around beauty and self-care. 

From that time in my life to now, where I’m designing fragrances for others, it’s often surreal to reflect upon the ways in which my passion for perfume came full circle with launching MOODEAUX. Especially given the fact growing up and while in college, I wasn’t interested in becoming an entrepreneur at all. I thought I’d end my career as a journalist — a beauty editor to be exact. But life has a funny way of getting you on the right track, regardless of where you started.

The idea for MOODEAUX came to me in October 2018. At that time, I grew obsessed with learning about our sense of smell’s ability to influence our moods. I was also recently unemployed after being laid off from my “dream job” and heavily reliant on self-care to stay sane. It might sound silly, but I always felt way better after a long, meditative shower followed by a spritz or two of fragrance. I didn’t even have to get dressed or go anywhere special, the whiff of a familiar smell was often enough to remind me that I’m worthy no matter what and that eventually, I’d be alright. 

Digging around online, I quickly noticed a lack of mainstream Black-owned perfume labels, not to mention the prevalence of brands that were talking about the scientific connection between scent, emotion, and memory. Despite not knowing much, I decided to pave a new lane and create something different. Today, MOODEAUX makes it more meaningful than ever to indulge in the art of perfumery — without alcohol, water, or dyes. Instead, through our debut SuperCharged SkinScent formula, we’re excited about developing luxury fragrances with unique accords, plus clean ingredients that help moisturize and lock scent to skin. Looking back on my journey, although a wild one to say the least, I wouldn’t change a thing.

“Worthy,” the brand’s debut scent, is an ode to self-care and a reminder of how powerful we are—what was your approach to creating this scent as well as translating the overarching mood into some of the ingredients found within it?

When ideating our first scent, at first, I selfishly created what I wanted to wear to help me self-care. However, upon pouring over dozens of product reviews—in addition to conducting a blind survey—I realized “Worthy” is a lot like what others were interested in smelling like as well. The notes are very particular and intentional:

White Tea — I’m obsessed with tea; a nice warm cup is always a super calming way to end busy days.

Orange Blossom — Citrus fruits are known to have powerful effects on our mental health. According to aromatherapists, their fresh and uplifting smell comes from the chemical component, d-limonene, which studies suggest supports the part of the nervous system that’s responsible for relaxation. In turn, many also believe the component can help decrease stress.

Red Rose — Roses, especially red ones, represent love to many including myself. They give off a familiar scent that reminds me of that connection. 

Lavender — Lavender oil has long been used within aromatherapy as a way to calm the nerves. Newer research suggests that its main chemical compound, linalool, can help lessen anxiety by stimulating the nose to pass signals to the brain.

Dry Musk — It’s an “earthy,” “raw” smell that pairs well with skin/natural pheromones.

Vanilla Woods & Amber — To me, this blend wraps the senses in a cozy blanket while giving Worthy some sex appeal.
Overall, I wanted Worthy to smell and feel like a big hug to yourself, to whomever wears it. As a warm, citrus-floral-woodsy scent, it combines accords that wrap the senses in a “cozy blanket” while also giving off some major sex appeal.

The fragrance itself is undoubtedly significant when it comes to attracting new consumers, but how does the bottle design and packaging reflect the scent inside?

While MOODEAUX is for everyone, I’m a Black woman first. And Black women are worthy/deserve to take up space, although society specifically often tells us otherwise. So, our bottle design in how it includes our logo TWICE in large script on both sides is very reflective of that belief. Our brand colors, namely electric orange, are meant to stoke feelings of boldness, confidence, abundance, creativity, introspectiveness, and more.

Out of curiosity, how has your relationship with not only fragrance but beauty as a whole changed since you embarked on this journey?

I’m much more conscious and devoted to learning/sharing more about clean beauty. Unlike other categories, it’s somewhat of a newer phenomenon for people at large, especially those who don’t have any fragrance sensitivities, to demand product transparency. Prior to launching, I can’t recall a time where I’ve walked up to a perfume counter/emailed a brand, and questioned outright if my favorite scents are formulated without any dangerous and/or potentially harmful ingredients. This just wasn’t on my mind when deciding to purchase, given fragrance ingredients aren’t required by law to be listed individually on cosmetic labels.

The same goes for a growing population of scent-crazed beauty fanatics like myself who used to assume everything’s all good. Nowadays, the tides have begun to shift with folks doing their research. And to me, this influx of inquiries surrounding things like chemical makeup, sourcing, labeling, etc. is more than enough reason for us all to decide now how we’ll participate in the clean revolution. Consumers can’t want better when they don’t know for certain whether or not what they’re consuming isn’t great. 

Fragrances, similarly to clothing or garments, can play a quintessential role in shaping identity, whether that be bringing out confidence or uplifting the mood among those that wear it. Where does Moodeaux aim to fit in the conversation?

MOODEAUX turns the act of accessorizing your mood into mindful self-care and the concept of “luxury” into a lifestyle. However you wake up feeling, we want to be able to help you flaunt that, on purpose, and with quality products made from the very best ingredients/materials. 

A common thing that weaves many of today’s cult fragrance and beauty brands together is the aspect of community. What do you hope to spark within those who come across the brand?

First, feelings of worthiness! All who come across MOODEAUX should know they deserve to be here with us, and that they’re welcome just as they are. Far too often, folks (including myself) are told otherwise. “You’re too loud, too out-there…you take up too much space.” or “You’re too quiet, too unknown…you shouldn’t take up any space.” Bullcrap! When the world commands you to shrink, we say do the opposite — “Flaunt How You Feel” is our tagline for a reason. And it’s because no one should have the authority to take away your agency, period. Second, creativity! Human beings aren’t stagnant — as we physically grow, we mentally/emotionally/spiritually evolve as well. At MOODEAUX, we’re extending a VIP invitation to everyone, to revel in self-discovery and maintain with mindful self-care.   

Elsewhere, through Black In Fragrance, you are dedicated to supporting and paving a way for fellow Black fragrance entrepreneurs. How important is it for you to support other Black perfumers in the space?

The greater success of MOODEAUX depends on the support we receive and give to fellow Black fragrance entrepreneurs. I’ve long been a proponent of the belief that we can all go much further together than when we venture out in business alone. And unfortunately, given the widespread disparities between BIPOC founders and our counterparts, folks like myself can’t afford to add another card onto an already stacked deck. While I don’t claim to know every single answer to every single problem, I’m happy to find people who do and share what I know in the meantime.

As you’ve mentioned in the past, launching MOODEAUX was far from easy and took several years of trials and tribulations to finally get here. Although despite that, you remained resilient and kept pushing—what do you hope people take away from your journey?

If nothing else, I want people to remember this: We are all more resilient than we may think at times, even when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away. “Mind over matter” has taken me places that fear and doubt tried to keep me from — but if you believe in your heart that something’s for you, nothing can nor will stop you from getting it. 

Elsewhere in beauty, Kim Kardashian reemerges into the world of beauty and skincare with SKKN BY KIM.

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