New Brand Fluid Fragrances Is For The Nonconformist In All Of Us
Fluid Fragrances is taking the unisex perfume concept to the next level with sensual scents that can be used by anybody at any time.
“To me, unisex fragrances try to incorporate both masculine and feminine notes to appeal to both sexes or are fresh and nondescript to accomplish the same goal,” says Fluid Fragrances founder Lynette Reed. “That is not what we are about. We are about the idea that you can wear anything you want and not be boxed into what you have been told you are supposed to like because of your gender.”
Recently picked up by the retailer Ron Robinson in Los Angeles, the brand’s five debut 10-ml. roll-ons priced at $32 each are named I, Am, A, Human and Being, and range from floral herbal citrus to dirty rose blends. The fragrances are highly concentrated and technically extraits de parfum, which have between 15% and 30% perfume oil, and contain bases of organic argan oil sourced from a cooperative of Berber women in Morocco.
“They are big, sexy, unapologetically strong fragrances,” says Reed. “There are a lot of wood and musk, resins and animalic notes in all of my fragrances, so even a floral is going to be sexy, not fresh and clean.”
Reed’s personal and professional experiences have shaped Fluid Fragrances. From an early age, Reed’s 22-year-old son Harris Reed, a fashion designer attending Central Saint Martins, didn’t fit traditional definitions of male and female. His gender nonconformity wasn’t universally welcomed while he was growing up, and the Reeds moved frequently in search of schools where he wouldn’t be bullied.
“We are about the idea that you can wear anything you want and not be boxed into what you have been told you are supposed to like because of your gender.”
“I remember telling him, ‘You have to tone it down, not because I want you to change, but you have to tone it down for your own safety.’ It broke my heart to say that to him,” recalls Reed. “He’s the reason for the line—and, not just him, but all the others out there who have dealt with the things they’ve had to deal with whether from their families, friends or a culture that didn’t accept them. It’s a nod to them, but Fluid is for everybody. It’s about people being real and authentic to themselves.”
Fluid Fragrances enters the beauty industry at a moment when gender-neutral merchandise, especially in the perfume segment, has captured consumer and retail attention. It also arrives as niche fragrance brands continue to ascend. “With so many people doing it and new ideas popping up, it pushes you further because you can’t just go out there with a pretty product and think it’s going to succeed,” says Reed. “You have to have so much more to it.”
Reed, a former model, was in the scent sector atop niche players long before niche was well-known. She started Illume Candles with a store on LA’s West Third Street in 1994 and sold it to now defunct retail chain Illuminations in 1999, and fragrance layering brand Izzy Sayan in 2001 as a recession that would ultimately spell its doom was getting underway.
Since Izzy Sayan closed, Reed has largely been consulting companies big and small, but she never abandoned her entrepreneurial inclination and passion for scents. Phil Clark, Reed’s business and life partner, encouraged her to launch a brand again. She recounts, “He told me, ‘You are like the girl in “Singin’ in the Rain.” You are behind the curtain, and you are letting everybody else have the glory.’ I said, ‘I’m fine behind the curtain,’ and he said, ‘I don’t think you are.’”
“I know that I can’t please everybody, and there are going to be people who don’t like my message, and I don’t care. They’re not my customer then. I am really standing by my beliefs.”
Stepping in front of the curtain costs money, and a $40,000 investment was required to create Fluid Fragrances. Reflecting on the lessons she’s applied from her previous companies to the nascent brand, Reed shares she’s narrowed her focus with Fluid Fragrances. “I know that I can’t please everybody, and there are going to be people who don’t like my message, and I don’t care. They’re not my customer then,” she says. “I am really standing by my beliefs.”
For distribution, the brand is aiming at stores like Ron Robinson, but views salons as a potentially fruitful channel, too. It’s developed a display that’s five inches by five inches for salon countertops. Clark and Reed reside in Italy as well as the U.S. and are intent on expanding Fluid Fragrances abroad. Reed estimates international sales could account for over half of its revenue. She projects sales for Fluid Fragrances this year to ring in at $250,000.
Fluid Fragrances’ product pipeline is packed. Candles and three natural fragrances are due out next, and shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and wash, to name a few items, are expected to follow them. Products are housed in exterior packaging with iridescent rainbows signifying Fluid Fragrances’ boundary-crossing approach. “If you like florals, wear a floral,” pronounces Reed. “Just do what you want to do, not what you are told to do, and just be who you are.”