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Profile: Changing the Mood

Fragrance can encourage certain moods and impact behavior. Danielle Kelli Fleming, a certified behavior therapist, became intrigued with the connection between scent, mind and mood during her graduate work in human behavior and psychology. Her epiphany came one morning in the shower. “I was thinking about the scent, mind and mood connection and thought, ‘What if scent became a part of one’s daily bathing routine, thereby getting the effect of the scent without exerting much time, effort or energy?’” The result was Danielle and Company, Inc., whose Essential Experiences line of soaps and shower gels are grouped into five mood categories—Focus, Elevate, Relax, Balance and Sensual—according to the effect they have on a person’s mood.

As a new scent is created, Fleming uses experiments and past research to categorize the new fragrance. “I feel the five categories really encompass the spectrum of mood modification, and, therefore, I have found that almost all of the scents that I have worked with have fallen into a category quite nicely. Scent is very individualized, but my studies have shown that most people agree on the particular scent having the specified reaction.”

The offerings are created with shea butter, a botanical oil base and essential oils, and the product is biodegradable and packaged in recyclable materials. To maintain an eco-friendly line, the company does not use traditional preservatives and fillers. Instead, products are formulated with natural preservatives, such as rosemary extract and soybean protein.

“Our products are 100% botanically based, with all of our products transitioning to organic by January 2008. We never spend more than 4% of the total cost of the product on packaging, the other 96% goes to the pure ingredients.”

Yet the use of organic and natural ingredients presented its own challenges. “Because we do not use any fillers in our products, the raw materials to make them, especially organic, are still costly.”

Marketing the line began with basic word of mouth. “While I was still in school, I sold my products at a local farmer’s market. Once the market was over, my customers would come to my home to place and pick up their orders. It created its own buzz locally, and it was amazing.” Fleming eventually opened her own retail store, but closed it after three years to concentrate on the national demand for her product line. “We now sell our products to [more than] 65 upscale boutiques and spas across the [U.S.] and in Canada. In the next few years, we would like to see our product distributed in over 300 locations domestically and gaining a presence in the international market. Our goal is to become an internationally recognized brand.”

Fleming sees the line as a niche brand that she hopes to position as an organic contemporary brand appealing to mid-range and upscale boutiques and spas catering to the lifestyle consumer.

“You will hear me saying in the office all the time, ‘We are not selling soap, we are selling a concept.’ The concept is that our products will help you get into a specific mood by simply bathing.”

While consumers are encouraged to consider the mood they wish to achieve when sniffing various soaps, Fleming is quick to point out what her line is not. “This is not aromatherapy. It delves deeper into the science of scent stimulus and how it results in a behavioral change.”

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