We were looking for a name that was both meaningful and inspiring. Rosy & Earnest plays on both the names of a person, Rosy and Earnest, and the literal meaning of these two words. The idea was to convey both the feminine and the masculine on one side, and the positive and the authenticity on the other. It gives the vibe of the brand and its two founders: positive, hopeful, playful, yet passionate, with a serious side and deep convictions !
Q: How did your fragrance brand come to be, why did you start it?
The clean perfume idea came after our umptieth discussion about how it was hard, if not impossible, to find “cleaner” and fully transparent alternatives that smelled as luxurious and complex as the perfumes we used to wear. We were both in the process of cleaning up our act in food and cosmetics, and rarely used perfume anymore. Having both dealt with health issues and being mothers really influenced our choices! Although we enjoyed some essential oil-based smells, we missed the more sophisticated perfumes that give you that oomph of confidence and make you feel at your best. Plus, the word ‘natural’ does not necessarily mean clean. That afternoon, we had just found our idea! We would try to create the fine fragrances we were looking for – clean, luxurious with full ingredient transparency while also being as green as possible.
Q: What is it like to be moms with a successful fragrance business? Is it hard to manage both?
Surprisingly, being your own boss gives you the flexibility a 9 to 5 job does not offer. We have some busier periods with tight deadlines, but we usually get to decide what matters or what we need to focus on, whether it’s related to our work or family. And, we have supportive partners. The flip side of this is the pressure. If you don’t do something, nobody will. We’ve learned a lot since the beginning, and seeing our kids so proud of their mom’s work is incredible!
Q: Congratulations on being EWG-Verified! That is a big deal! Tell us about that process and experience.
Thank you! We’re so happy about this! Truthfully, when we started, we were not sure that our ‘crazy’ idea would work. Only one brand had received the EWG Verified certification for Eaux de parfum before us, and only a handful in the overall fragrance category.
To get the certification, we had to submit a list of all our ingredients to EWG, which were then analyzed by their team of scientists using the most stringent health and safety criteria available. Based on the initial submissions, EWG’s scientists required detailed information on the quantity of each ingredient, as there are limits for some ingredients and complete restrictions on others. If the initial submission does not pass on the first round, the formula must be reworked and resubmitted until satisfactory. This is part of the process, and it takes time! This can be demanding as you juggle with EWG revisions, manufacturing, while the perfumer works hard on adjustments. Fortunately, the EWG team was very helpful in providing feedback as we were going through the process.
Q: What was it like working with Labscent on such an intense, yet meaningful project?
The Labscent team is amazing to work with! This project would not have been possible without them, especially our perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer and Pierre Mascarenhas who oversees all the regulatory aspects. Not only are they masters at what they do, they are wonderful partners! They were behind us from perfume creation to the EWG verification process. One of the biggest challenges was to find a perfumer, a partner, that in addition to working with a new, small niche brand, would accept to create within the strict boundaries of EWG’s acceptable ingredients’ list and to reveal all ingredients in the compositions.
So, when an award-winning nose like Nathalie Feisthaeur accepts to embark on a project like this, you tell yourself, ‘Oh, this is happening for real!’. For us, it was also a signal that there’s a place for more clean and transparent fragrances in the industry.
Q: When you were learning perfumery, did you teach yourself? Go to classes or have training?
We mainly taught ourselves through books and websites about the history of perfume, olfactive families, ingredients and their impacts on a composition. We are still learning! We’ve been trying perfumes for decades now, experiencing the distinctive scents of places while travelling and visiting many perfume stores! Some people have been immersed in this world for years. We don’t have the pretension to say we’re experts, but we certainly know more now about the intricacies and the work behind a fragrance than before and having an expert like Nathalie to guide us was an immense asset.
Q: Tell us about your inspiration and process behind your two flagship fragrances, Be Rosy and Be Earnest.
We wanted our two flagship scents to epitomize the Rosy & Earnest brand, joyful, lighthearted, yet grounding perfumes, that would last without being overwhelming. Ideally, they would be voluptuous unisex fragrances that would capture a bit of who we are while giving confidence and making you feel beautiful. Once our mood boards were more precise, we discussed them with Nathalie Feisthaeur, who transformed our ideas into beautiful scents.
Be Rosy is an ode to La vie en rose . A poetic, colourful, as well as a hopeful scent. It also refers to good health and vitality. There’s nothing like clementine oil from Italy and floral notes to uplift your spirit! The iris butter also gives it a soft, powdery side.
Be Earnest came as a beautiful surprise with its warm wood and crisp apple notes that we unexpectedly fell in love with. It encapsulates the authenticity of Earnest and the value behind the project. It’s grounding and sensual whilst still being fresh.
Q: Are there any advantages to being EWG-Verified? How about limitations?
More and more people want to know what they’re putting on their skin as science shows how ingredients in some beauty products are linked to health issues, from hormone disruptions to cancer. Being EWG Verified gives the credibility of having been through a third-party process and of being fully transparent with our ingredients list. The EWG Verified logo makes it easier for consumers looking for certified cleaner alternatives or wanting to know about all the specific ingredients in a product.
As for the limitations, some people may think that clean fragrances are not as luxurious or beautiful as others. Hopefully, we’re proving them wrong! We may be perceived to be against regular perfumes, while our intention is simply to offer another option to consumers and show that safety and luxurious scents can go hand-in-hand.
Q: What future plans do you have for Rosy & Earnest?
We are working on our next two fragrances, which promise to be exquisite and yummy! Stay tuned, they should be released at the beginning of next year!
Q: Tell us something that most people don’t know about you?
Caroline: I encountered a huge parrot fish while scuba diving in Australia ;)
Marilou: I will try almost anything once. I have done parachuting and even flew a small plane during a flying class a friend convinced me to take… even though I was terrified! ;-)
Q: As a new small business owner of a fragrance company, what challenges are you facing?
There are a few! As a small business, our budget significantly differs from that of large companies. This is true for publicity or when trying to find manufacturing services. Everything costs more because we create smaller batches. It forces us to be very creative and hands-on.
Q: In the same regard, what do you find to be rewarding?
It is extremely rewarding to see our vision come to life and create a brand aligned with our values. But the most rewarding has been the support we have received since our launch. When someone takes the time to provide feedback or to say they can wear perfume again, it means the world to us! Also, being recognized by the perfume community and having media and different industry players show interest in our brand makes us think we must be doing something right! ☺
Q: Outside of Rosy + Earnest, what other creative outlets do you have?
Caroline: I’m currently completing a degree in fine arts, I love painting, drawing and photography.
Marilou: I enjoy playing piano and writing.
Q: Where do you consider your happy place?
Caroline: In nature, swimming in a lake or on an outdoor adventure with the family
Marilou: At the cottage with my family
Q: What is your favorite word?
Q: What is your least favorite word?
Q: What turns you on?
C: Good food, big laughs, the unexpected, outdoors
M: Kindness, authenticity & a good sense of humor
Q: What turns you off?
C: Judgement, accounting and cleaning :)
M: Dishonesty and judgement
Q: What’s your favorite note?
C: I really like hesperides and vanilla
M: I love clementine notes (like in Be Rosy) and vanilla and Rhum notes
Q: What’s your least favorite note?
C: Very sweet notes
M: I am not a big fan of anise notes
Q: What are you smelling right now?
C: One of our next fragrances, very gourmand
M: I am also wearing/testing one of our next fragrances!
Q: If you could describe your brand in 3 words, what would they be?
C: Audacious, voluptuous, clean
M: Luxurious, clean, transparent
Q: Is there anything else you want our readers (or us) to know?
We’re sisters-in-law and have known each other for about 27 years.
C: I have a Master’s in public policy and worked in climate change for 20 years. At age 22, when I recovered from an illness, I visited Grasse because I loved perfume, its history and how it makes you feel, not knowing that one day I would have a brand of my own. I’m curious about pretty much everything, from gardening to yoga to quantum physics.
M: I have a bachelor's in communications and a higher degree in Management. I have previously worked in communications, marketing and real estate. I am a creative thinker and a problem-solver. I love travelling, sports and spending time with friends, family… and my cat! ;-)
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Photo credits: Rosy & Earnest
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