I have ALWAYS wanted to work on a candle. It’s funny my love of fragrance is so closely tied with my love of jewelry. A scent can take you to a special time, transport you immediately to a place or a person…just in the way jewelry can. My grandmother wore the iconic Shalimar fragrance and giant gold clip-on earrings from Elsa Peretti for Tiffany. My mom wore Opium and a gold cross that my Dad brought back from Ethiopia with a lavender block print Indian dress. Their jewelry and the fragrance transport me to those moments when I learned what style really is.
I had hoped to launch a line of fragrance early in the Jane Win path, but, honestly, I got detoured with the complexity of building a business from scratch. The design, production, and marketing of our coins was more important than trying to develop scents at the same time. And then we found Tiffany. Back in June when #blacklivesmatter was reignited, my Instagram feed and emails were flooded with amazing Black-owned businesses. I was cruising the internet and exploring these brands, and I just stumbled across Bright Black. I emailed immediately. Tiffany, the owner, feels like me in that she is a woman making what she loves, building a business and a family – working closely with her husband. And she loves butterflies. So there’s that.
Tiffany and her husband Dariel
I asked Tiffany if we could commission our first candle with her, and she took me through the process of creating a scent for Jane Win. About a month ago I got 4 scents to try and surprise! we both loved the same one – based on the deliciousness of jasmine and the richness of black amber. The candle is called LOVE and is tightly linked to all all the words we associate with our original LOVE coin, especially:
“We celebrate optimism, passion and encourage everyone to have just a bit more love in their life.”
Listen. We need to have more love for our neighbors. That is the first building block. Love leads to understanding, that understanding will lead to change.
I wrote in a diary blog that you would see us ‘do better.’ Things couldn’t stay the same. I’ve clearly clearly benefited from my privilege and I want Jane Win to DO MORE. Because I can relate to building a business, supporting and sharing Black-owned businesses felt like a good place to start. I am SO happy I found Tiffany and that we could commission her to create something special for us, and I want to share her business and success story with you.
1. I’m SO excited about this collaboration Tiffany – so happy your business seems to be on fire (no pun intended). Can we start from the beginning, why did you start Bright Black and what is your mission?
I started Bright Black to share positive stories about my history, my culture, my identify and my life. I am a psychologist by training, and know the importance of storytelling. When deciding to leave almost a decade of public service in the Federal Government, I knew I wanted to do something that fulfilled my analytical and my creative sides. Storytelling through the powerful sense of scent was the perfect next endeavor for me.
- Your love of fragrant oils and scents is clear, where does this come from?
I am a lover of sensory experiences writ large. I am deeply moved by music and the visual arts, find kinetic art/dance to be totally fulfilling, adore the feeling of beautiful fabrics against my skin, often get lost in various enchanting culinary experiences, and yes, you guessed it, have a special love affair with scent. Scent is so underrated and yet so incredibly powerful. You have to be present to fully experience--no virtual smelling experiences just yet! And scent taps into memory and feelings in incredibly powerful ways. I couldn't think of a better medium through which to share positive narratives that too often go untold.
- You are a mom and a wife and a business owner – how’s that going? LOL any tips on the balance?
Ha! Not to mention there's a pandemic and people who look like me are STILL fighting for the basic recognition of their humanity. So, yes, there's a lot going on. I also devoted almost two decades to working in the realm of resilience, so while things are tough, I--along with my wonderfully supportive social network--am tougher.
I do not have much balance right now. Our business exploded this summer, and we're actively working to be responsive in the short term and to build systems that will allow us to sustain our business and thrive in the medium/long term. Although I don't have a ton of balance, I do have perspective, and I know that tough times do not last forever. We'll stabilize, the world will stabilize, and we may even come out even better than if 2020 would have never happened. I truly believe that in my heart of hearts.
- You just created a candle for the organization founded by Michelle Obama, WHEN WE ALL VOTE. She is such a role model, such a leader, so MAJOR…we need every detail on this project…
Yes, very major. I actually do not think I've fully processed this. We're planning to take the entire month of January off, so perhaps I'll have some mental space to process it then!
But yes, we partner with Mrs. Obama's organization to create a candle that would spark consciousness around the importance of voting, now and in all elections. The label artwork was done by our colleague, Kesha Bruce in AZ, and the concept is a nod to Ida B. Wells, Black suffragist who, along with so many other Black women, fought for the right to vote. This is the centennial for women's suffrage, so I thought it was particularly important to tell the stories of Black women's contributions to the movement. And as we all know, Black women are an incredibly influential voting block contemporarily.
- Creating the LOVE candle for Jane Win was incredible, how did you marry the scents and come up with the final formula?
This was a REALLY fun scent to design. The brief was very open--which can be liberating and challenging. In the end, I went in a few different directions, which I'm sure you can see in the various designs you received. You mentioned a grapefruit scent that you liked, so I provided a couple of options in that family, which also married with the intentions behind your brand. And then you mentioned Opium, and I got super excited. I didn't try to recreate Opium, but I was inspired by the beauty of Jasmine and thought I could modernize it a bit by pairing it with a few different ambers and bergamot, along with some other notes that embodied love, freedom, and hope. The scent is strong, because love is strong. The scent is complex because love is multifaceted. I landed on a design that I absolutely adore (and could totally see someone wearing as perfume!)!
THANK YOU Tiffany. It is an honor to be working with you and we adore the LOVE candle. Hope there are more candles and scents in our future together.