Meet Brianna Arps, Founder & CEO of MOODEAUX. With a focus on clean, feel-good fragrances and an emphasis on Flaunting How You Feel, this one-of-a-kind fragrance company is making its mark on the beauty industry. Founded in 2019, MOODEAUX is the first black-owned fragrance company at Credo - the world's largest clean beauty company.
A core inspiration for MOODEAUX is that fragrance, emotion, and memory are all interconnected. MOODEAUX crafts luxury fragrances that will enhance the wearer's mood from the very first spray (let's call it love at first sniff).
Our team had the pleasure of chatting with Brianna - speaking with her about her journey as a business owner, her inspiration behind creating MOODEAUX, as well as what it really means to Flaunt How You Feel.
Hi Brianna! We are so excited to connect with you and thank you for taking the time to chat with our team! Can you first start by telling us a little bit more about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey?
I’m very much-so a coincidental entrepreneur. Real talk, if I hadn’t been laid off from my role as an editor at a popular women’s media outlet in 2018, I can’t say whether or not MOODEAUX would exist today. The whole ordeal made for the most painful wake-up call ever, one that forced me to mentally/physically/spiritually/emotionally address just how much self-worth I had wrapped up in a job — and reclaim it. The process was hard. Letting go of subconscious inhibitions was even harder.
But! I’ve since accepted that change is good, especially when it forces you to be more intentional about taking care of yourself from the inside-out. For me, this also included analyzing my beauty routine, which went through a complete overhaul. I stopped using and doing stuff that felt unnecessary to focus on what made me feel my best: fragrance. Rather than a product I wore to impress others, it became a tool of personal expression. As my interest in all-things perfumery grew, I knew I had found a new calling and ultimately decided to switch careers.
Can you tell us about the inspiration for starting MOODEAUX and how the brand name came about?
Losing my job was a catalyst for starting MOODEAUX, but seeing the lack of “mainstream” visibility of Black creators within the fragrance industry was the real kicker. From the very beginning, it’s been a goal of mine to not only shake things up, but more importantly, to help us feel seen, heard and represented. To really encourage us to claim our space and flaunt how we feel. Far too often, folks who look like me shrink themselves. Not necessarily out of doubt, but to fit into societal boxes as a survival tactic. However, when you put life into perspective, you come to realize there’s incredible, unmatched value in expressing yourself and living on your own terms. I know this from experience! MOODEAUX’s here as that reminder and so much more.
Funny story about our brand name! When I first started MOODEAUX, it had a totally different name: Moode Beaute. In hindsight, it makes me laugh because I hate that name now, but you couldn’t tell me NOTHING about it at the time. However, when I got around to starting the trademark process, my lawyer broke the bad news that someone else had filed for a similar name roughly two weeks before us. I was devastated. I had spent thousands of dollars on brand development work and content creation that would never see the light of day, because we didn’t have our legal house in order from the jump. Lesson learned. MOODEAUX takes our root word “MOOD” and pairs it with “EAUX,” which is the plural form of water in French. Together it’s kind of like a play on “eau de parfum” etc.
MOODEAUX has so many amazing initiatives and programs that are offered on the site. Can you talk more about the Making Beauty Better and the Black in Fragrance programs?
I believe making beauty better starts by making better beauty. Beauty that’s not only innovative, fun and exciting, but also beauty that’s good for us and the environment. When compared to other sectors of the cosmetics industry, the fragrance market lags far behind in terms of ingredient transparency and product sustainability. There’s still a ton of ambiguity and enough waste to make your head spin. At MOODEAUX, we’re upfront about how we formulate and take serious consideration of how to help avoid junking up landfills when designing products, so that people can feel confident about supporting us. Those who do, are encouraged to share their feedback on how we can improve as well as join our mission by either self-recycling their empty MOODEAUX vessels or sending them back for a reward.
Black in Fragrance is also a communal effort, in that it aims to build a global ecosystem of support among industry professionals, consumers, retails and media outlets — each who pledge to help level the playing field for Black perfumers and Black-owned fragrance brands. As its founding label, MOODEAUX leads the effort on the brand side, having matched proceeds on limited-edition merch for three mini “grants” thus far. :)
We love how MOODEAUX focuses on intertwining scent, memory and emotion into all fragrances. Can you dive deeper into the process of creating new scents and how MOODEAUX is providing a long awaited change to the fragrance and self care industry?
Studies have long shown olfaction, emotion and memory are closely linked. But it’s still somewhat of a newer phenomenon for non-indie fragrance brands to acknowledge this connection. You’re much more likely to see an advertisement for a scent that relies on vanity or pure sex appeal than one taking the MOODEAUX approach of empowering people to “accessorize” their mood and flaunt how they feel. Back before we launched, this was up there with what frustrated me the most about our industry. It’s what I felt compelled to change first. Like, if we know fragrance has such an inherent predisposition to be a gateway for mindful self-care, why cheat consumers out of that experience with surface-level marketing?
When designing MOODEAUX’s debut fragrance “Worthy,” I wanted it to smell like a hug in a bottle. A mix of citrus-floral-woodsy accords grounded in sheer warmth. The kind that wraps your senses in a cozy embrace — whenever you need one most. For instance, I chose to include white tea because a cup of it is always a super calming way to end my busiest days. Orange blossom and lavender because they’re often used within aromatherapy and widely studied by aromachologists. I added red rose because in many cultures, roses represent love. Dry musk because of its raw earthiness that pairs well with skin/natural pheromones, etc. The same intentionality goes into each scent we ideate, and I absolutely cannot wait to see how our full line will be perceived. Fingers crossed!
In what ways has your previous work experience played a role in your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?
Even without having acquired all of the technical learnings that come with a formal business education, I've managed to launch one successfully thanks to transferable skills. What I know about storytelling, brand building and growing lean for example comes from years of working in the field as a journalist-turned-marketer. Although I could’ve drowned in all the things I didn’t know, I chose to dive head first into all the things I’m really-really good at and found meaningful ways to apply my expertise. Then, once the MOODEAUX train left the proverbial station and started picking up steam, I put aside funds to begin hiring folks who could “plug the holes” in our operation with their skill sets. Together, we’re making it happen!
What has been one of the most significant achievements for you since you founded MOODEAUX?
We’ve been blessed to reach many goals within a relatively short amount of time! One of the most significant achievements includes launching at Credo Beauty (on my 28th birthday) as the first Black-owned fragrance label to be sold by the renowned retailer. Likewise, it still makes my heart flutter to know ELLE Magazine recognized MOODEAUX as a 2022 “Future of Beauty” Award winner. Both milestone moments keep us pumped to strive for more.
Since starting your entrepreneurial journey what has been the biggest piece of advice that has stuck with you along the way? What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?
It’s so hard to choose just one bit of advice, so I’ll share three takeaways.
I always preach about owning your story by truly understanding what makes you unique. Really understand how you’re going to tell not only your founder story — but your brand and product story, too. All three matter; avoid the common pitfall that is focusing on just one if you can. More important, though, is how you convey those elements of your business when talking to various audiences. The language you’ll use with the general public and with someone who is primed to write you a big check (show us the moneyyy) should be similar, not identical if standing out is your goal.
Secondly, although there may be a zillion other tasks on your plate, don’t neglect the legal matters of your business. Small mistakes or oversights can lead to big setbacks and challenges in the future if you’re not careful. This includes everything from making sure you can claim trademark rights by filing for them in a timely manner (fun fact: I didn’t and ended up switching company names from Moode Beaute to MOODEAUX before launch) to keeping accurate records against any misinformation.
Last, but certainly not least: HAVE FUN. Being an entrepreneur with a fancy-schmancy title is a ton of work that comes with an equal amount of responsibilities. However, it also brings about an incredible amount of joy to be able to imagine, create and build with my people — my community. Whenever stress and doubt creep in, they’re the ones who remind me not to take myself too seriously.
Huge congrats on MOODEAUX’s acceptance in the Sephora Accelerate Program! Can you tell us about your journey so far with the Sephora Accelerate program and what that experience has been like?
It’s a surreal feeling knowing that I’ve come full circle with Sephora. I’m someone who used to work holidays at the retailer throughout college, now I’m in their acclaimed Accelerate Program?! Wild. I don’t take anything about this journey for granted. I feel just so incredibly blessed and excited to be learning alongside such a powerhouse group of women, each poised to make lasting impacts on beauty and the world we live in. So far, it’s been amazing! I selfishly never want it to end. But I know when it does, MOODEAUX will be that much closer to reaching our full potential.
In five years, what can we expect from MOODEAUX? Are there any specific ways in which you would like to see the brand grow and expand?
In five years, it’s my dream for MOODEAUX to be seen as a go-to fragrance label that has shifted the industry into one that’s less vanity-driven and more intentional about helping people live their best lives. Keep an eye out for newness, potentially body-care, home goods…we’re cooking up a lot over these ways!