What makes a beauty line stand out in 2018 is its ability to expand our traditional view of its category. When makeup can be skincare, and fragrance can be mood-altering. That’s what ADORAtherapy brings to the table: the desire to break out of the conventional idea of “fragrance” and bring a mood-boosting, invigorating idea to market. We chatted with co-founder and CEO Laura McCann to learn more about what makes ADORAtherapy stand out in natural fragrances.
You call ADORAtherapy an “experiential fragrance” line. Can you tell us more about what that means and why it’s important?
When we decided to build an aroma perfume brand, we knew that aromatherapy is so many things to so many people. To some it is a therapeutic practice and represents the use of single note essential oils they will blend themselves or use in a diffuser. We knew that it required extensive training to use oils and that education was a key activator in receiving the benefits. We also felt that focusing on symptom-ology was not the same as shifting emotion. We spent a lot of time thinking how essential oils could be part of a daily self-care practice like brushing your teeth.
We knew that the benefit was in using them daily, mixing and matching different oils for different solutions and activating them through intention. We also knew we wanted Adoratherapy to be available as part of a beauty regimen, but in this case an inner beauty one. That is how we made the decision to build in education, information, training, and support of your Mood Boost practice in everything we do:
- Our tag line “Spray. Breathe. Transform.” reminds you that unlike regular perfume, aroma-perfume requires active engagement and participation. Breath being a key step in obtaining the benefits, we want you to breathe in the scents deeply, we want the oils to be applied to the skin, the neck, the pulse points, the body.
- Our packaging provides the support for you to develop a daily practice grounded in breath and intention. Each box has an affirmation, a how to use guide, and our slogan “Adore Yourself!” as a reminder to love yourself and take care of you.
- Each collection has a habit guide designed to support your understanding and shifting of your moods based on how you feel in the moment.
- Our displays are mini mood boost bars that allow you to sample all the moods and they provide information on the top notes, key benefits and scent profile.
- By sharing your mood boost story, you engage with your communities and build your tribe.
Part of your brand is based on the fact that you think customers want clean, green ingredients. How does ADORAtherapy deliver on that?
Essential oil based perfumery is unforgiving. If you mix many ingredients together based only on their benefits, you often end up with something that smells like cleaning products or medicine. As a matter of fact, single note oils often smell better than most blends on the market. To achieve a great smelling essential oil based fragrance you need to build the scent just like perfume with top, middle and base notes. This requires artistry.
The foundation of any fragrance is the carrier. In perfume, it is alcohol. In aromatherapy, it is a carrier oil, like jojoba, which is what we prefer to use. The categories of oils used in perfume can vary from plant based and botanical to synthetics. In aroma perfume, it will only be natural, preferably organic, oils and in some cases, absolutes. Absolutes are concentrated, highly aromatic, oily mixtures extracted from plants. Whereas essential oils are produced by distillation, boiling or pressing, absolutes are produced through solvent extraction, or more traditionally, through enfleurage.
Oils mixed with oils means the delivery is a roller ball or a dropper. If you want to make a spray perfume, that’s a whole other story if you are not using alcohol as the carrier. We have opted for water. But you know water and oil don’t mix, so you need other ingredients like an emulsifier, which allows the oil and water to blend. Water introduces the opportunity for bacteria to grow, so you must have a preservative. It’s taken us a few years but we finally have a clean solution to developing extraordinary water-based aroma perfume sprays.
We love your progressive thinking in making your scents gender inclusive. Why is that important to you?
When we launched, we had bottles with no boxes and they were pretty and approachable. We launched our Gal on the Go Collection with a box that was all about fashion, with very feminine illustrations, and it was a huge success. We launched a second box and stayed close to that esthetic and it was a huge hit. Our demographic is female and we were comfortable there.
Then we started to pitch investors and most of them were male. We’d constantly hear they liked the products, and would use them, but the packaging was a deterrent. We added a new version of our best-selling Chakra Boost collection (we call it Chakra Spice) and intentionally made it simple, color only, no illustration. The feedback was great. We decided that as we move forward, especially in the beauty channels, gender inclusive packaging was going to be our new mandate. We have a new collection in R&D that will not only have packaging that speaks to all but fragrance profiles too!
What recommendations do you have for selecting the perfect fragrance for you? It’s hard when lots of beauty shopping is online!
As marketers, we think about this all the time. How can you convey scent online? We’ve recently changed all of our copy and now focus on describing scent in simplified terms, speaking to top note, scent family and benefits. There is a lot of science about scent preference and most consumers know what they like and what they don’t. In the case of aroma perfume, they might want the benefit and don’t like a scent, which is why we added a Mood Index chart to our habit guides, a handy page on our website that is the go to for learning about our Mood Boost Collections. If they don’t like citrus for instance, but still want to feel uplifted, they can try a sandalwood top note instead.
We are also available on all our social channels and online to answer questions. Our new push will be to offer sample kits, with 19 formulas to date—we really want to provide the entire experience at an affordable price. Aroma perfume allows layering of scents, layering of our products with your perfume. It’s not just a fragrance story, it’s about mood. In our world, you’d pick at least three perfect scents! We hope to launch this program in the fall.
You say your brand is blended with a higher concentration and range of essential oils than other brands. How do you do this and remain accessible? Why is accessibility significant to you?
We shared a bit about clean ingredients being a big part of the story. The last piece of the story is how much of the “good stuff” do you use. This is where price is a driver. We opt for as much of the highest, premium, therapeutic grade essential oils as we can use within the safety limits. More oils means more persistence, more benefits and a more luxurious product. It’s a pretty big deal because we are committed to the benefit of a mood boost, which is anchored in breath and skin absorption. We chose to not skimp! We were so committed to this approach that we created two price points, Signature and Prestige, to address this.
As an indie brand, affordability and volume are antithetical when you are starting up. My background is in fashion. When I graduated from Parsons School of Design we always joked: Would you rather wear it or make it? The idea being that if you wanted to wear Gucci you should head to Broadway and not 7th Avenue. Throughout my career, I built products for the largest retailers from specialty to mass, and volume and price were key drivers but not at the expense of style. We believe you can be premium and be in the right doors.
Can you tell us a little about the difference between your Prestige line and your Signature line?
When we started out we had a small following in wellness, and Whole Foods was an anchor customer early on. We knew that the products we sold to them would not get picked up in gift or beauty. We also knew there was price and gross margin sensitivity. I have worked in tech many years and they have a concept of A/B testing different approaches. We didn’t know which was the right market so we experimented with approaches that would let us find out where to put our energy. We selected different size bottles in some cases, changed the packaging in others, all to reach the price points we thought were needed in each channel.
Our Signature collection has white bottles, 8 ml mostly, with colorful accents and is perfect for the wellness channel and mass. Our Prestige collection has amber bottles, rose gold accents, 10 ml mostly, and is perfect for the beauty, spa and specialty channels. The price difference is significant at retail: $20 for an 8 ml product versus $30 for a 10 ml product. The strategy has paid off as we are carried in Whole Foods and Amazon with the Signature Collection, and in the spa and beauty channels with the Prestige line.
It was a risky move and required a larger SKU assortment, which for a small company was a big investment. But it has paid off and we see that our growth will be catering to both segments with different offerings. In the past this might have been an impossibility, but today, consumers cross over.
What’s next for ADORAtherapy? Anything new coming soon that you can share?
Our passion is developing products and we are loving what we are seeing in fashion with the concept of drops, new capsules being released seasonally. We are a vertical manufacturer and produce our own products in Asheville, North Carolina, in our downtown factory. We are opening to the public with a Mood Boost Bar and factory outlet. Asheville is a huge tourist destination and we have an opportunity to cater to people from everywhere.
One of the groups we want to work more with is brides and bridesmaids. We’re working on a customization idea that would let them create their own Wedding Boost collection. We hope to test out our new concepts here and online and then introduce them exclusively to the right retail partners for exclusive launches.
Our next drop will be our Inner Beauty Boosts, five aroma perfume roll-ons that include: Love, Goals, Shine, Truth and Dreams. The idea behind this collection is to look inside and be your best self. We are also working on an upscale aroma perfume collection based on the concept of Alchemy. It includes 12 roll on perfumes and a “catalyst” spray perfume. This collection is all about activating your life force.
You talk about your line as mood boosting. How do you want that to empower women?
Transformation is at the very heart of the ADORAtherapy mission. Our Mood Boosts lift and shift your mood in the moment, allowing you to tap into your best self. As we transform into the best version of ourselves we become more self-loving, more accepting and more integrated. As women, we often put ourselves last—we “put the oxygen mask on others first” and we tell ourselves that we’re fine, we can handle it. The truth is we manage all kinds of situations daily, and in many cases our best weapon is our experience, energy and instinct for survival. We tell ourselves: “You got this!”
But what if there were small hacks that could provide the same benefit as an hour of prayer, a moment of gratitude, a yoga session or a short walk? What if the small act of applying essential oil perfume, a deep belly breath, a spritz or a little roller ball massage on the neck or temples and the intention of shifting from anxiety to tranquility, exhaustion to awake, uninspired to creative, dispassionate to seductive made a difference? Our Manifesto says it all:
I AM therefore I AM
I believe in what I choose to,
not what I AM told to
I AM alive to be the best me
I can be
When I feel what I feel
I become myself
I AM truth
I choose my moods and declare
I AM awake
I AM smart
I AM beautiful
I AM inspired
I share my best self with others