My twelve year old self was ridiculously cool, if not a walking Bath & Body Works advertisement. Between the roll-on glitter and the cucumber watermelon body mist, I’m pretty sure I’ve never sparkled or smelled so good. Fast-forward fifteen years: I am remarkably less cool now that glitter is reserved for craft projects and I’ve upgraded to actual perfume (hey, cucumber watermelon: you will reign supreme again – just give me a decade or so). That said, I am fairly certain I could get back to the land of the cool with a fragrance like GIVESCENT. Three years ago, Alexandra Lyon Perelman and Elena Brower teamed up to create three scents inspired by the Mediterranean summer (that’s the scent). In turn, they contribute to and raise awareness for Every Mother Counts and Women for Women International (that’s the give). High-fives all around for not only smelling good but doing good, as well.
NAME Alexandra Lyon Perelman
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Graduate level: Columbia University Teachers College // MA in Health and Behavioral Studies // EdM in English Education
ESTABLISHED August 2011, NYC
Tell me a bit about GIVESCENT & what inspired the company. Elena Brower and I wanted to create sensual, grounding scents that everyone would love. We also wanted to create scents that were less toxic than traditional fragrances. Our first was inspired by Elena’s time spent teaching during the first sultry summer days on the island of Sicily. She discovered a Sicilian almond oil blend that inspired her to create a scent of her own. Soon after, she gave me bottle in NYC where we recreated the blend and GIVESCENT signature was born. GIVESCENT was created to share the beauty of our captivating scent, and in turn empower women and give them voice. GIVESCENT is reminiscent of summertime spent on the Italian coast. I specifically recall the fragrant scent of the Amalfi coast: a mix of the warm, rich earth, the salty Mediterranean, and the sun-ripened citrus groves.
Aside from the smell good aspect of GIVESCENT, there is also a wonderful do good aspect in that a portion of sales goes to support Every Woman Counts and Woman for Woman International. What stood out to you about these two organizations? When Elena and I decided to share the beauty of GIVESCENT, it was important to us that others benefit from the project as well. Both of us are mothers, teachers and activists; for us, giving to WFW seemed like the perfect mission. We are honored to contribute to such a meaningful cause, and help women survivors of war rebuild their lives. I had spent time in Bosnia right after the Balkan war as a student journalist and saw firsthand how beneficial organizations like Women for Women International are in creating opportunity and equilibrium in women’s lives. About a year after we started selling our first scent, I created GIVESCENT orange in honor of Christy Turlington’s organization Every Mother Counts. As a fellow mother, New Yorker (Tribecan) and activist, we wanted help raise awareness of her critical campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world.
Your collection is inspired by the smells of the Mediterranean. What was the process like creating each scent? Each scent was a labor of love and was created to capture a memory of times spent on the Italian coast. The new scent I have been working on is a true beach scent. It is very light, with notes of musk and amber. When I begin the process of creating a scent, I usually mix several variations while having fun with the oils. I then try them out and have my friends wear them to give me feedback. Since I just relocated the company to California this summer, my new scent reminds me of both Capri (where I honeymooned) and time spent here in at the beach in LA.
Your branding is very clean & minimalistic. What was most important when deciding on the look & feel? The packaging has been a true evolution. When I started bottling GIVE, it was in brown apothecary bottles with lavender labels made by a college student. As the company grew, there was a true metamorphosis. With the help of my dear friend and branding consultant, Lauren Albert and my graphic artist, we were able to capture my true aesthetic which is very minimalistic, and hopefully also the story of GIVE. The biggest challenge was keeping all of the packaging sourced from the US. It is much less expensive to do it abroad. It was important to me that I keep the packaging as local and sustainable as possible.
What has been the highlight of GIVESCENT to date? There have been many highlights: raising awareness for Women for Women International and thus helping women worldwide, and meeting so many inspiring people. I was an English teacher so when I started GIVESCENT, I had to learn a whole new skill-set. However, with anything in life, if you can connect with people, that’s key to success.
Let’s travel back in time a few years. What advice would you give yourself on taking the plunge into entrepreneurship? Business model/plan!!!
Fast-forward five years. Where do you hope to see your company? I hope to see GIVESCENT in more retail outlets nationwide. I have little time for retailer outreach and know in order to grow and expand the brand, I have to be in more stores, spas and yoga studio.
Guilty pleasure? Anything chocolate. Travel. Vintage pucci kaftans.
Favorite TV show? Madmen, 60 minutes.
Cake or pie? Chocolate cake.
Favorite smell? GIVESCENT of course! The beach, grapefruit, one of my first perfumes: Floret by Antonia’s Flowers, and Downy fabric softener-a very guilty pleasure!
Last book you read? I just started The Goldfinch. Just finished this year: The Journey Home by Radhanath Swami, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, East of Eden by John Steinbeck.