As a former college basketball player and self-described gym addict, Sarah Johnson is more likely to hit the showers at her local fitness facility than her own apartment. “I’m always getting ready at the gym before the rest of my day, and that means minimizing the stuff I bring with me.” In the past, she brought full bottles of perfume alongside her travel-sized shampoo bottles. Having dropped her Dior all over the floor one time too many, she knew that it was time to find a fresh-smelling alternative to glass perfume containers. But it wasn’t until she spent a winter snowed-in in Syracuse helping her mother recovery from shoulder surgery that she got a chance to start experimenting with her own sweet-smelling concoctions.
"I’ve always been the kind of person who looks at something and thinks, ‘I could do that," says Sarah. "I’m one of three sisters, and when my mom had surgery, I was the one who had the flexibility to help her through it, so I went home," she says. "And I had a lot of time on my hands!" She started off wanting to make a bath bomb, and before she knew it she was ordering all sorts of different supplies and discovering how much fun body product chemistry in the kitchen can be.
Soon enough, Sarah launched her own Etsy shop, where she developed a bit of a following—and also attracted the attention of a company that wanted to develop a perfume stick for a private label after a friend in Ohio introduced execs to her line. “One week later, I was meeting with these guys in New York, and they wanted to know if I could commit to 25,000 units.” It was a challenge, but Sarah went for it. And somehow, “I pulled it off!” she says.
"I was really, really lucky," Sarah admits. "People go years and years trying to place orders with a big retailer, and things happened pretty quickly for me." Soon after her private label was up and running, she was able to start developing her next big project: Perfumies, the lip balm-sized scent stick perfect for freshening up on-the-go.
"I got really excited about every step of the process… I actually broke things down into mini-milestones, so that every step felt like it was fun and I was accomplishing something—even the littlest things. I don’t think I could have completed it if I wouldn’t have looked at it that way." Months in the making, her line features fresh, spirited branding and truly delightful scents in pocket-sized tubes that go with you to the gym, through airport security and wherever else you’re off to.
Not long after launching her line, Sarah was contacted by a Fab buyer who wanted to feature Perfumies. It was on the site that a Today Show producer saw her line. Sarah spent the rest of August readying inventory for a potential push from a Today Show spot. “It was really touch-and-go for awhile. I was trying to stay calm about it—you never know with television!” Then, one afternoon, after taking a long-needed break from work, she came up the subway stairs and the phone rang: “They let me know they were definitely going to feature my product.”
The day the spot was supposed to air, she watched the screen with bated breath. And then, there it was—Perfumies, on the Today Show. “People wait years and years for that kind of exposure. I had barely launched my line. I was just—I am just—so, so grateful.”
With a national TV feature under her belt, Sarah celebrated her successes and then went back to the grind. “I’m the sort of person who has to make my own way, has to figure things out for myself—what works, and what doesn’t,” she says. “I’m so excited to be building something and relying on myself to carve out my career.”
We couldn’t have put it better. Stay tuned for Perfumies, coming your way on Fab soon!