We recently caught up with Sue Phillips of Scenterprises who brought us up to date on her accomplishments this year.
BF This year has started out quite well for you between being nominated as a Finalist for Fashion Group International’s Rising Star 2016 Beauty/Fragrance Entrepreneur, and an Honoree for the TJ Martell Foundation’s “Women of Influence” award on May 13 at The Plaza Hotel. What does it mean to be an Entrepreneur and a Woman of Influence?
SP: Being nominated as a finalist for FGI Rising Star Fragrance Entrepreneur and as a Woman of Influence Honoree for TJ Martell is so gratifying and a huge honor. I’m really grateful and thrilled. I believe that entrepreneurialism is what influenced the Beauty Industry many years ago and it was dominated by true Entrepreneurs – Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, Charles Revson, Estee Lauder. Where are these entrepreneurs today? I actually like to say I am a ‘Scentrepreneur’ – as I am enterprising in Scent. And the name just naturally ties in with the name of my company, Scenterprises and my perfumery The Scentarium! I have always been passionate about fragrance, and have been fortunate to have made in-roads into a very niche area which is now growing by leaps and bounds! Customization! Bespoke Perfumery. Personalization. It used to be the domain of the very wealthy or royalty and now it is an area that people want to explore as they are tired of wearing what everyone else wears. When people like Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes contact me to come to The Scentarium to create a Custom Fragrance it’s validating – not with the intention of ‘licensing’ it or launching another “celebrity scent” (yet!), but to feel special and to create a fragrance or perfume which really resonates with his or her personality and reflects their individuality.
BF – What motivated you to become a Scentrepreneur? I am passionate about Perfumes and present “Scentsory” experiences” and include fragrance in all facets of life and business – with wine, food, art, music and color. We have presented Scent/Wine pairing events; Scent Dinners, and also an entire Multi-Sensory “Celebration of the Senses” retrospective exhibition to honor my late mom, who was an amazing artist (www.2marvelous4words.com) but unfortunately was afflicted with Alzheimer’s -so created a fund -raiser initiative for Alzheimer’s and showcased about 450 of her paintings at Scripps Hospital in San Diego. Everyone who bought a painting was eligible for a round trip to South Africa for 2 people ; a 4 day visit to a Game Reserve, and we had South African food, wine, music and beautiful backdrops all sponsored and in turn donated the proceeds of all purchased paintings to Alzheimer’s and Scripps Memorial Hospital. I love incorporating Scent into these kinds of ‘experiences’ and when clients come to The Scentarium and they see my mom’s lovely art, and hear the music, they are immediately elevated to a place far away from the bustling city of Manhattan. It is an ambience that allows them to explore the senses and to really value the experience of creating their own beautiful fragrance. The best part is that they are delighted with their custom bespoke perfume and reorder it. I always say that our Olfactory Sense is our strongest most important Sense, and we need to nurture and foster it. Fragrance is more than just a spritz in the air or a dab on the wrist. It is something that transports you to another place, and may remind you of a past encounter. It is a powerful way to influence people and to also create wonderful business opportunities to create Bespoke Perfumes or Signature Scents for scent-branding. When I walk into a room, or a commercial space or hotel and don’t experience a scent I feel there is a ‘disconnect’. I was invited to a screening of the new “Jungle Book” in a new 3D Dolby Sound Studio – I was entranced with the visual, sound and physical effects, but frankly was disappointed that they didn’t include the ambient scent element. Imagine experiencing the scent of the jungle while watching it!
BF Your background is really interesting – what got you started and where are you going?
Originally from South Africa, I began my career at Elizabeth Arden in Training, and then went into Color Cosmetics Product Development, and then to Fragrance marketing on Chloe, Lagerfeld and Burberry. I loved that I was able to be involved in all aspects of the beauty industry and travelled around the USA in training, product development, sales and marketing. Then to Lancôme as Marketing Director for Magie Noire (a great iconic fragrance) and men’s skin care Programme Homme. Imagine my surprise and delight when I received a call from a headhunter to interview for the VP position at Tiffany & Co., where I went on to successfully create and launch the first TIFFANY perfume for their 150th anniversary. Working with Chanel’s great chief perfumer Jacques Polge to create the perfume was an honor, and I’ll never forget being taken on a private tour of Coco Chanel’s private atelier/salon where every artifact was still intact, and in exactly the same place as when she lived there. The Coromandel screens were breathtaking – I loved walking in the same footsteps as Chanel! When I had my child, I left corporate life and began my entrepreneurial odyssey as Consultancy. Developing fragrance brands for Avon, Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Lancaster, Oilly, Trish McEvoy was fun, challenging and diversified. No one brand was the same, and that is how I honed my entrepreneurial skills. I witnessed a changing fragrance landscape. After the classic fragrances, and beautiful designer fragrance brands, a new category emerged – Celebrity Scents – and a new one was launched virtually every second day. Which led me to where I am now. With such a proliferation of Celeb scents, eventually the consumer would become confused with so many ‘flankers’ and launches, and I began the Custom Scent initiative and pioneered Bespoke Perfumery when most Americans weren’t even sure what the term meant. Today, it is growing so quickly, and we were the first company to offer an ‘experiential’ approach to perfumery in 2009. We then opened The Scentarium a little over 2 years ago, and have had the wonderful privilege of creating custom scents for over 11,000 people – between individual consultations for men and women, (40% of our business with men), celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, Katie Holmes, Won-G Bruno, Dirk Nowitzki, Lisa Vanderpump, and client appreciation events for corporations such as AOL, GOOGLE, COTY, UNILEVER, MERRIL LYNCH, DIGITAS, WELLS FARGO, BULGARI, and hundreds of others. We offer bridal showers, bachelorette parties, teambuilding events, perfume parties, and corporate events for everyone. My youngest client was 6 years old and the older ones keep on coming! I would like to expand The Scentarium, write a book and launch my own perfume line!
BF What piece of advice would you give to young women today to inspire them to follow their dreams?
As Adjunct Professor at LIM College, I try to motivate and inspire my students to believe in themselves, and to explore their surroundings, as they are living in one of the greatest cities of the world. I tell them that it’s important to fuel their passions and to open themselves to all kinds of opportunities. “You’re living in New York City. Avail yourself of everything that is here; the museums and galleries, lectures and parks. When you go from class to class; look around you, look up at the spectacular New York city views and architecture…keep your eyes open!” There’s so much that can help them in their future endeavors. Many of them are obsessed with reality shows, so I try and broaden their horizons and to inspire them to think exponentially. And, if they fail in their endeavors, my motto is to ‘never give up’ and to keep going! Hopefully they remember my words and dream big! I try and live my life surrounded by beauty and the joy of Art, Music, Fragrance, Culinary arts and other Senses, as a way to enjoy a ‘scentsory’ life, to completely ensure my wellbeing.
I believe in the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest form of wellness and fragrance certainly adds to that!
CEO & Founder of Scenterprises and The Scentarium
New York, NY