Like Walker, Brianna Arps, a brand marketing consultant and founder of Moodeaux, also didn't receive a formal fragrance education but was able to learn a lot about starting her brand with help from "several books and the internet" — a testament to just how large the barrier for entry is for Black women in the industry.
"When I first started out, I found and contacted two Black female beauty chemists for guidance," she told POPSUGAR. "One was suggested to me by another Black woman who owns a nail lacquer line. The other was someone I came across on Instagram. At the time, I couldn't afford neither chemists' assistance, so instead, I hired a lab partner willing to assist me with the scent aspect of my product and relied on other sources — books, the internet — to teach me about formulating the skin-care component myself."
While Arps hasn't formally launched any products just yet, her brand is a few years in the making and the result of 32 months of research and development, as well as thousands of dollars funneled from her personal savings to fund the project. Moodeaux has come a long way, but she agreed that being able to see herself more in an already-exclusive industry can make a huge difference.
"The number one question I get when chatting with other Black business owners is 'Why perfume?' which is then always followed by them answering for me: 'Never seen anyone do that,'" she said. "I think, 'Exactly.' My annoyance by the fact there's practically no diversity in perfumery was enough to pull the trigger on starting Moodeaux, even though I had no clue how challenging it would be."
The fragrance industry still has a long way to go in terms of becoming more inclusive and accessible to Black people and non-Black people of color, but hopefully the events of the last year will help to increase visibility and access to those out there who are just trying to get their foot in the door.
"I've had to get pretty scrappy," Arps said. "But I welcome it all, because as I like to tell myself and others — when you smell good, you feel good. And at the very least, everyone deserves to be reminded with fragrances that help you flaunt how you feel."