Scentonomy, an online platform that curates custom aromatherapy blends, launched a sample collection from its digital aromatherapy algorithm at the popular Allure Store in Soho New York, alongside 8 other BIPOC brands. The platform was created by former real estate broker turned beauty and wellness entrepreneur, Makeba Lloyd. She came up with the concept after conducting research on the accessibility of holistic and complementary wellness providers. While caring for her mom, she noted a gap in the availability of centralized and vetted resources for easily accessible, complementary online care – Two years later Scentonomy was born.
Meet Makeba Lloyd Founder/CEO/Certified Aromatherapist & Perfumer
In Makeba’s former professional life she was a lead new development sales broker representing New York City real estate developers across the boroughs with a collective portfolio of $1 Billion. After a trip through Ancient Egypt, she discovered the benefits of engaging the therapeutic practice of aromatherapy and perfumery, not only as a self-care ritual, but also a method of creating her own scent-scapes using handcrafted products that served as aromatherapy tools she attributes to upgrading her sales presentations.
During the onset of the pandemic, when New York was shut down, Makeba chose to retire her real estate sales business and focus on her brand and production strategy. In the process of her growth she came up with the concept and plan to build a digital application that allows customers to co-create their own aromatherapy blend with the assistance of a data driven algorithm, while being encouraged to explore other holistic and complimentary wellness modalities. Makeba is now a certified aromatherapist and artisanal perfumer, with an innovative platform that integrates a simplified process for collecting data that can be used to curate essential oil blends based on the user’s wellness concern and scent preference.
What transferable skills did you take from your former role as a real estate broker into launching your own wellness and beauty line?
“I attribute my customer service and communication skills from my days as a real estate broker to being able to retain a customer base,” said Makeba Lloyd, founder of Scentonomy. “Understanding the importance of branding and brand logos is something I definitely considered as I thought about starting my brand. When I worked as a new development agent our marketing team generally gave new condo projects a name and logo that exemplified the building’s attributes. I remember using textures from a condominium model unit to help design the packaging for the look and feel of my first product release. It has evolved since then.”
How did you find out about the opportunity to pop-up at Allure Store alongside other BIPOC brands?
Our brand was a part of a group of BIPOC beauty founders who participated in a pop-up curated by another organization. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, that event didn’t go as planned so The Allure Store was kind enough to offer us another date and opportunity to showcase our brands.
What are some of the differences you noticed between selling e-commerce vs. in-store?
“Well, the most obvious one is that customers have the opportunity to actually try the product in real time and feed off of a sales person’s presentation to help make a buying decision, as opposed to learning about the product through the descriptions or customer reviews,” said Makeba Lloyd, founder of Scentonomy. “However, the beauty of online shopping for the customer is immersing themselves in the brand’s content and using their own imagination to interpret how a product will feel and smell, then making a decision on their own assumptions and deductive reasoning rather than having a salesperson’s presentation and personal bias of a product or brand inform their decision.”
How do you think the future of retail can continue to be more inclusive to BIPOC brands?
“I think retail terms can be a little more small business friendly. I hear fellow BIPOC brand founders who are in mass retail speak about these challenges often, especially around chargeback fees or expense offset for not meeting requirements. These alone can keep many amazing brands from entering retail all together.”
Are you currently seeking retail partnerships?
“We have not aggressively sought out retail partnerships because our focus has been on growing our DTC community, and understanding who are customers are. Building that 1:1 relationship is very important to us.
What other retailers would you love to see your product sold in either as a pop-up opportunity or permanently?
“I really appreciate the community of buyers who have been purchasing our products for years. I would love for them to find us in the stores they are shopping today. Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom,Saks, maybe even Target. Our product evokes a niche and intimate experience so we would love to maintain that in-store when possible.”
I have over 10 years of experience in the retail industry including expertise in marketing, operations, merchandising, buying, shopping and technology. I am a former senior managing director of The School of Retailing, University of Alberta. My education includes a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from The University of Alberta in Marketing, Certificate in Real Estate and a Diploma in Fashion Merchandising and Buying from LasSalle College, a Canadian private school founded in 1959 by fashion designer Jean-Paul Morin.