Beauty often takes cues from the food and beverage industries. Increasingly beers, wines, and cocktails are inspiring novel cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance formulations. For instance, at this year’s California SCC Suppliers’ Day event Marilynn Kelly, vice president of marketing at fragrance technology supply company Belle Aire Creations, showed Cosmetics Design an entire collection of scents inspired by mixology. And Rachel Katzman’s hair care brand Cuvée, formulated with champagne extracts, is just one more example of the trend.
Here, beauty entrepreneur Kelly Jones shares how she’s developed a niche brand especially well-suited to the tastes of wine and spirt enthusiasts. (The brand’s newest scents are premised on Mezcal!)
Name: Kelly Jones, Founder and Owner
Indie Beauty Company: Kelly + Jones
Launched: October 2011
Headquarters: New York, New York
Cash flow: Sales have increased 5x year-over-year and since fully dedicating myself to the company one year ago. Prior to October 2016, I was running the business as a side hustle, while working a full-time corporate job. The company was at a point where it needed my whole dedication and attention. Sales are increasing rapidly as a result of this focus. In addition, we have grown wholesale accounts to over 25 stockists, including retailers in Scandinavia, the Middle East, and Canada.
And Jones is particularly proud of being able to have the cash flow to produce fragrances in larger quantities and batches to meet customer demand; also, to reach that point through reinvesting profits vs. working with investors.
Team work: 1 full-time employee (myself), 1 part-time associate, and 1 intern
Distribution: First, sales via our ecommerce site (kellyandjones.com). Second, our wholesale program with sales from over 25 select retailers (and growing). Third, sales through our very experiential events such as wine tastings and events for corporate clients.
Years in beauty: 10
I started in the industry in 2007, when I left a corporate job in the auto industry to pursue my passion for fragrance and spa. My first company, Salud Spa Bar, was an experiential retail store in Tucson, Arizona, with a custom scent bar and a DIY spa. Although my automotive experience may seem non-related, it actually gave me the business foundation needed to build a company. I also worked with luxury automotive brands where we deeply studied consumer needs for wellness.
Years at Kelly + Jones: 6+
The idea for wine and fragrance pairings first came to me in 2009. I was at a wine tasting in Napa when the winemaker called me out for wearing scent to a pairing, because it could interfere with the wine’s bouquet. But, I sensed a connection and decided to study wine aromas and develop scents that could actually enhance the notes of wine. I debuted my first rendition of the line in 2009, with the current re-branding in 2016.
Entrepreneurial experience: I was the kid on the block selling stuff at the end of my driveway at 8 years old, so it’s always been my passion. Having my own specialty/apothecary store in Tucson, which I launched from scratch, was even more valuable to me than my MBA. A brick-and-mortar [business] truly puts you to the test, and mine launched just before the recession. My current business model is more mobile, and I’m finding growth to be easier as I’m not limited to the walls of the store. E-Commerce and events across the country support our reach, and also keep me inspired.
The business: Kelly + Jones creates fragrances inspired by the terroir of nature. From the vineyards of California to the agave fields of Mexico, our scents capture and connect the way that nature’s sensoriality is infused into the world of wine and spirits. Kelly + Jones [is] fragrance crushed with love.
The wow-factor: By introducing the nose to wine aromas in a new way, we demystify the tasting experience. Our passion is to inspire people to truly stop and appreciate that glass of wine, to truly experience that cocktail in a whole new way, using all of the senses. And most of all – to have fun with it.
The customer: We’re different from other niche fragrance lines in that our target is wine and spirit lovers; and both men and women. We’re introducing the art of fine fragrance to consumers via events that include tasting experiences and it’s been very successful.
Milestone moment: I have never hired any type of PR support or agency; I’ve grown our awareness and press organically and we’ve been featured on Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, Marie Claire, Refinery29, and many other exciting press venues. I’m proud that the company has been so authentically recognized and embraced.
Advice for fellow indie beauty entrepreneurs: Surround yourself with people who cheer you on, and people who make you raise the bar every day.
Just one: Asked about her go-to product, Jones says it’s sunscreen and a stylish UV-protection hat.