More than 4.8 million Black Americans have reported having a mental illness, and as we continue to navigate through an ongoing pandemic, the numbers are continuing to rise. Much like other important factors that contribute to our everyday health and overall wellbeing, mental health is at the top of the list and is an area that needs to be prioritized more than ever before. Brianna Arps, the founder, and owner of Moodeaux– a clean luxury fragrance brand, is helping to change the spectrum of mental health through scent. Moodeaux’s “Poetry like fragrances” are not only adding to the concept of mental health, but are helping Millenials to feel seen, heard, and accepted in a crazy world. “We want people to feel empowered in all ways shapes and forms. Given that, we are an e-commerce brand and our audience is primarily millennials and gen Z, which are audiences that grew up on social media. Said Brianna to 21Ninety. “ We just want to help encourage them to, not only understand how they’re truly feeling within life, but to take a step back and reevaluate where their priorities are, and what’s important to them.” 

Brianna’s clean beauty brand is like the hug you never knew you needed. It’s soft yet confident and comforting with a bit of edge- A combination that aids a very intentional message of the brand’s mantra, “Flaunt how you feel.” Moodeaux’s clean scientific artistry of incorporating scent to suit your everyday mood is what makes life just a bit easier and even more touching. “ We want to put Black women first in any and everything that we do. We’re trying to change the narrative from within that has made Black women, in particular, feel unworthy of luxury within their lives. The messages we’re putting outward reflect how we want our consumers to feel- which is always a feeling a love and appreciation.” Said Brianna. 

Arps’s motivation for starting her own fragrance brand, was an accumulation of what she’s seen within the fragrance industry that often pushes a whitewashed viewpoint of beauty marketing, as well as enduring a rough patch within her early career and not knowing her next steps. The fragrance entrepreneur wanted to create a brand that could not only help her to feel and look her best during these times, but to help other women take their power back by embracing the current moments at hand with a little spritz of TLC. 

Gabrielle Tazewell: Tell me more about your logic behind the connection between scent and mental health? How do they connect?

Brianna Arps: So our tagline is actually ‘flaunt how you feel,’ which starts with the acknowledgment of how are you right now? Like how are you doing? And when we’re asked these questions, we often respond, ‘oh, I’m doing good. How are you?’ And we’re not really answering the question. That’s why I wanted to create this brand, to really highlight true emotions and true feelings and to somehow connect that fragrance space. We wanna help change people’s mindsets around what luxury is. What do people claim as luxury? And how can we help them? How can we help facilitate whatever journey they’re on in claiming that or, somehow, reclaiming that. 

Gabrielle Tazewell: As we hone in on the brand’s mantra “#flaunthowyoufeel” How is Moodeaux changing the narrative of toxic positivity and embracing how you truly feel? Tell me more about the inspiration behind this mantra? 

Brianna Arps: When you feel abundance, you surround yourself with abundance and things that make you feel good, and what you put out in the world is gonna be a direct reflection of that. The core of Moodeaux is #flaunthowyoufeel and we’re hoping to empower people to embrace that. Like on days when I don’t feel worthy, that’s something that I acknowledge within myself. But days when I do feel worthy, that’s okay too. On days when I don’t feel sure of myself that’s okay. Or days when I feel like I’m that girl, that’s okay too. And I think, you know, starting there is really what will lead to the revolution for people embracing mental health and embracing,you know, talking about their feelings in a way that doesn’t feel desperate, but in a way that feels like you’re putting the power back in your hands to reclaim how you’re truly feeling rather than claiming how society tells you how you should feel. 

Gabrielle Tazewell: Positive affirmations are a great way to reshape the negative self-talk we tell ourselves, especially in the scope of beauty. Oftentimes, Black women can feel unworthy or undeserving of luxury in their lives which can often interfere with our inner self-esteem and confidence. How is Moodeaux helping Black women, in particular, feel more luxurious and deserving of high-quality beauty products? 

Brianna Arps: Yeah, I think from everything we do, the most important aspect of the brand is the messaging to the imagery. We’re showcasing the complete opposite of what society wants us to believe at times. When you go to our social channels or when you visit our website, you’re gonna see a black person. And you’re gonna see a black woman in particular. Visibility is such an important aspect of feeling represented and feeling that you’re being affirmed by whatever brands or people that you’re supporting. In order to truly believe we’re worthy and deserving of good things, we have to see that we’re represented. And you have to see it to believe it. When you don’t see it, whether it’s again on social, or in e-commerce, or on retail shelves, you start feeling as though you’re inferior, even though that’s not being directly said. 

Gabrielle Tazewell: Much like fashion or other ways we can express ourselves through self-expression and identity. How do fragrances tell our stories in different ways?

Brianna Arps: So just to give you a little bit of backstory on like why we chose the notes for one of our signature scents, “worthy”, worthy in particular was designed to feel and to smell like a big hug to yourself. So when you have a comforting scent, you know, such as lavender or orange blossom, each scent is designed to be kind of like a pick me up of some sorts. All of our notes are intentional in how we want you to feel. And, you know, on days when you’re needing that hug for yourself, ‘worthy’ is perfect for that, or when you are wanting to manifest from within. And I think that’s also key, you know, what differentiates between Moodeaux and other fragrance brands, is the intention behind each of our products.  

Gabrielle Tazewell: Tell me more about your initiative, Black In Fragrance? How is this approach critical in highlighting other Black fragrance entrepreneurs as it pertains to establishing themselves more within the industry? 

Brianna Arps: I believe that when we work together, we can get so much done faster and we can go much further together. And that’s exactly what Black in Fragrance is about. It’s about, one helping to make us more visible, and two offering resources– Whether it’s in the form of cash grants, or in the form of telling you who my vendors are, or helping you with your retail packaging.It’s my hope that even by just giving them the grantees a little bit of money or some level of support, they’ll put it to great use in helping to build their brands. We are aimed to give people opportunities who are just looking to get started. You know, you can’t be what you cannot see.

Gabrielle Tazewell: It can be extremely hard to get out of bed every morning, especially with all of the chaos going on in the world. How do you balance yourself amidst the madness? Can you give us some tips and tricks for how you combat those days when you just don’t feel like showing up in the world? 

Brianna Arps: Yeah. So one of my mentors and I had a chat on Instagram live not too long ago. And I asked her that question myself and she said something that I’ve been carrying with me ever since. And it was that she doesn’t necessarily strive for balance in her life, but she strives for her harmony. And instead of trying to strive for balance, which seems like a never-ending task, let’s just see how we can make ourselves work in the construct of harmony. I think that restructuring my mental framework around wanting harmony and peace in my life has freed me from the fallacy that you have to strive for a work/ life balance. Like there’s gonna be days where shit is just hard. Whether it’s the work or the life side of things. And it’s only frustrated me more to strive for balance before realizing that like, maybe that doesn’t exist for me right now in this moment. So I would say, try to focus on, you know, identifying the aspects in your life that you can make more harmonious. Like how can we make things work together? That’s a big key.

Gabrielle Tazewell: Can you give our 21N readers some tips for ways to make their perfume last longer? 

Brianna Arps: Most definitely. The first thing you have to to do is moisturize that skin. Your skin needs to be moisturized and the best time to apply moisture is when you’re fresh out of the shower. So start by applying your favorite lotion and then apply your fragrance in the ‘erosion zones’ which are usually on your neck, between your cleavage, or the backs of your knees, or anywhere that your body just natural really conducts more heat will allow the fragrance to really bloom and stay put. 

Gabrielle Tazewell: What is some advice, if any, that you can give to those aspiring to make it within the industry? 

Brianna Arps: Sure thing. For starters, I didn’t go to school for business, but you don’t have to necessarily go to school for business or finance to run a business right. Lean into all of the things that you think that you’re really, really, really good at and figure out a way to apply them to your business and within any life passion, because it will allow you to keep moving forward, even on days when you dont feel like showing up. Just put the work in and keep striving. You’ll get there. I promise you’ll get there.