Lenell: Tell us about Embellish and the whole inspiration behind it?
Marilyn: It was driven by memories that my mom left behind. I am from a large family. I am number 11 of 12 children. My mom passed away when I was five years old of breast cancer. My siblings had more memories of her than I did. One of the things that I remember often about her was her scent. So I think that was very impactful for me that I ended up having this special gift from her than any of my other siblings. With that, it kind of became my blueprint to want to create a fragrance. Not that embellish, reminds me of the scent of my mom, but it stormed up a passion to want to create a fragrance in remembrance of her. So that is where the desire came from.
Lenell: One thing that really stood out during my research on the fragrance is the concept of “Me”. Is it about how the fragrance combines with one’s body chemistry to make it different? Can you elaborate on the “Me” concept?
Marilyn: “Me” is the actual brand. When you think of major brands like
Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, you automatically think of brand and
Lenell: Of course.Marilyn: Those (including me) never really celebrated themselves and who they are. One of the things that I thought to do with that was form a Brand that will allow you to do just that. We have carried/worn the “CC’s” and the “GG’s” for so long, well now we can embrace “Me” and celebrate our individuality! Oftentimes women and men get territorial about what it is that they wear or their scent. There have been times when someone has said,”Oh, you smell nice, what is that you’re wearing?” Now you can say with pride and boldness it’s “ME”. It’s more of a sense of empowerment. Celebrate who you are behind the brand “ME”.
Lenell: That is really powerful. What an amazing concept.
Marilyn: I thought about times when we would say “Ooh, I like that fragrance, what is that you’re wearing? And you would say “Me” or “Soap and water”. People would think that you were being sarcastic. (Laughing) Now you can say you’re wearing “ME” and it’s really true. I thought about one of my favorite candy bars “Whatchamacallit”, I really did like saying that I was eating a “Whatchamacallit” as if I didn’t remember that name of what I was eating. What a cool concept? Now that same concept applies to the Brand “ME”. You’ll be asked on the Jewelry, fragrance or handbag you carry and say with Pride Oh It’s “ME”! How powerful is that?
Lenell: Do you have a background in cosmetics? I know you said the idea originally came from memories of your mother's scent. What is your background leading into the business aspect of the project?
Marilyn: It’s so interesting. My background has nothing to do with this category at all. I have over 20 + years of accounting and finance experience. Working for Corporate America afforded me the opportunity to grow and develop the business acumen I needed to make this brand a success! As I mentioned, the blueprint did spark with the memory of my mother’s scent. More importantly, what I believe she really left me with was the birth of a business concept. As a result, the Brand “ME” was formed.
Lenell: You see many fragrances endorsed by women in entertainment like Halle Berry, Nicki Minaj, and so forth. How do you think Embellish would stand up to those names? Have you reached out to a name to be the face of your brand?
Marilyn: I have not looked into that, but I certainly would be open to a conversation. I didn’t really want the brand “ME” to get lost in celebrity endorsements. “ME “is the brand, “Embellish” just happens to be one of the product lines. If you think about some of the major brands that are out there that do not have a celebrity endorsement like Gucci. It isn’t named after a certain celebrity, however, you may have a celebrity endorse something under that specific brand. Brands like Nike, is a stand-alone name, however, people enjoy standing in lines to get their air Jordan’s!
Lenell: Is this your first year on the market?
Marilyn: We are celebrating our first year on the market. We just had a wonderful celebration for our one year milestone which is very hard for a small business. We’ve been successful and we’ve done very well with e-commerce at Bfragranced.com. We also have a few boutique stores in the Chicagoland area that carry our product. We are currently looking into huge retailers. Yet, we’re being very strategic on where we place the product. We don’t want to have any brand equity loss. Yes, I’ve had opportunities to have my product placed in several stores, but I’m being very careful and sacred with the brand equity. It can’t be placed any and everywhere.
Lenell: I love the commercial, where the young woman appears to be chasing herself. It seems as if she is in a dreamlike state. What is the overall message that you’re trying to convey with the commercial?
Marilyn: It almost appears as if she is running from herself. What is that? It’s “ME”! The message magnifies the center that it is about “ME”. It’s celebrating who you are. The director who filmed that is Awesome. He was very visual in bringing that concept to life.
Lenell: What is in the immediate future for Embellish and the “ME” brand?
Marilyn: We just finished our lotion and our shower gel that will be on shelves in the near future. Research and Development are also working on products for our men; we have gotten so many questions and comments like “it’s not just women, its men out here as well. We want our Men on Team “ME”. After completion of the cologne and after shave for the men, we will venture off into other product lines for the “ME” brand. We will create more of a robust product line. We will not be known for just fragrance or cosmetics, but also known for handbags, jewelry, and other luxury products. I have so many things that we want to bring to the market, but we have to take our time. I’d rather take my time and do things the right way with the perfect quality than to rush on quantities and lack on quality. People ask, when are the products coming? I tell them soon, very soon.
Lenell: Congratulations. I think the scent is awesome. I am so excited for this brand, it is so powerful. Congratulations again.
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