The Style Series: This entrepreneur is trying to disrupt the fragrance industry by tapping into e-commerce and DTC brands - and he's already got pop icon Cher on board

steve mormoris

Beauty entrepreneur Steve Mormoris has plans to revolutionize and revitalize the fragrance industry. By launching Scent Beauty - a subsidiary of his main company, EDGE Beauty - Mormoris aims to partner with brands, charities, celebrities, and influencers to create unique scents that each serve as an emblem of the person who made it, and the political stance it embodies.

On the heels of releasing a scent with legendary singer Cher, Mormoris sat down with Business Insider to discuss how he plans to shake up the fragrance world. Advertisement

"I was at Coty for 15 years."

[It was] an amazing company that was a game changer in terms of growing its leadership in fragrance, in cosmetics, and in skincare. And I think part of the magic ingredient of their growth had to do with constant innovation in product, breaking boundaries in terms of distribution models.

"[But] I had a yearning and a need to create my own company."
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[My business] is really based on a whole new paradigm: that people have moved more to direct-to-consumer marketing; that millennials and generation Z are consuming beauty products in a very different way, through storytelling and through digital marketing. People are embracing the idea of scent very differently.

Steve Mormoris halle Berry
"I saw the whole rise of artists, brands, and of social media."Advertisement

The fact that very small companies came out of nowhere, entering the social media world and creating a retail platform to sell products - a light bulb went off in my head, and I said, 'Oh, this would be a great forum to create very interesting brands in fragrance where we are simply partnering with new brands.'

"We don't have a strategy specifically focused on big names."

As a company, we're going to pride ourselves in creating what I call "craft fragrances" or "unique fragrances" that are highly curated. So the idea isn't to be big, but it's to be meaningful ... We're also launching an interesting concept called "Scent Lounge" where we are looking at micro-influencers from all over the world, who show the diversity of the world - whether they're from India or Africa or Japan or the United States. And they're of all sexualities and ethnicities. Advertisement

steve mormoris
"I admire micro-influencers because they're very much motivated by a pure desire of expressing themselves."

You can make an argument that macro-influencers have become highly sought after revenue models for many companies. So, in this context, I'd say one of the beauties of micro-influencers is that when, if they decide they want to create a fragrance with us, we know that they are completely passionate about doing this - not just to make money, but to actually reach their fan base. And very often you'll see that micro-influencers have a much higher degree of engagement and following than a macro-influencer does.

"All companies and all brands strive for this concept of authenticity." Advertisement

The difference is today, people find authenticity in a messaging that tends to be relational rather than transactional. So very often consumers like a brand that admits they make mistakes, that asks them to participate in the creation of the brand, or is involved in the charity giving or making the planet better ... I think authenticity has reached a new level of texture, really because consumers have mobile phones in which they're just able to interact with brands, but on a more frequent basis than 30 years ago where you would only interact with the brand when you saw [it on] the television.

"Fragrance has an emotional benefit."

It has mood altering benefits and self enhancement benefits. In the history of mankind, people had fragrances to make them feel good about themselves, to feel sexual, to feel productive, to feel individual. Advertisement

"The word "scent" has a much larger aperture and meaning to people across the world."

We felt strongly [that] we should not repeat the word "fragrance" because it does restrict you into a world where people are using a product primarily for sex, and seduction, and social status. We saw that all the generations that are now wearing fragrance were actually wearing it as scent. That means that they could use a roller ball, essential oils that they carry in their pocket. They could be wearing a wax fragrance and they could be buying scented drawer paper. They could be spraying a fragrance in their hair. Even in categories like dry shampoo and hand washes, we see a lot of beautiful scent experiences. "We'll be launching a line of fragrances with Sam Edelman, an iconic shoe designer from New York."Advertisement

[He's] one of many to come in the fashion segment. We have really reinvented the celebrity category with this concept of what we call "Icon Series," where we have different artists who express themselves in an olfactory way. We've started with Cher, the musical artist. We're also launching a fragrance for Renee Fleming, Andre Leon Talley.

steve mormoris

"We've decided to give a percentage of our profits to charity."Advertisement

One of the charities we've partnered with is called Ditch the Label, which is an anti-bullying charity; another is called the Forgotten Harvest, which [gives] excess surplus food [to] the homeless. And another one called Project Aware, which is a program trying to clean the oceans of plastics.

"When we create fragrance, we're not looking to please everyone."

We're really looking at creating fragrances that are polarizing in the best sense of the word - where we create very signature fragrances for some brands that [are] so good, people [can] associate [the scent] with that brand, and either people will love [the scent] or not like [it]. Advertisement

"As a culturally curious person, I'm always on the lookout for new, interesting brands, people, trends."

One of the goals is to become the leading innovator of scent to the world, and offering that through a multitude of curated, unique brands that are culturally relevant ... I also think that one of my personal goals is [to make sure] that we've made a difference, and [that] we've made a difference [specifically] to the consumer.

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