Entrepreneur

Michelle Pfeiffer's Fragrance Brand Took 20 Years (and Plenty of Rejection) to Build

She wanted the fragrance industry to be more transparent.The fragrance industry said no. So the actress took matters into her own hands.
Source: Danielle Levitt
Danielle Levitt

Hear Michelle Pfeiffer discuss her company on the Entrepreneur podcast Problem Solvers:

When Michelle Pfeiffer calls someone, they generally answer. It’s a benefit of celebrity. And so, many years ago, when Pfeiffer wanted to solve a problem, she assumed the solution would be that simple. “I did what, traditionally, a lot of celebrities do, because that was really the only thing that I knew,” she says. 

She wanted a fine fragrance company to create a “transparent” product -- that is, a perfume or cologne that would list every ingredient it contains, just like you’d find on the side of your morning cereal box. Nothing like this existed, but perhaps, she thought, that’s just because nobody like her had asked for it. She started reaching out to major cosmetics brands (she won’t name names, but think about the bottles you’d find at Macy’s) and offered her services to them: If they made a transparent fragrance, she’d attach her name to it.

They all said no. “They were unwilling to be 100 percent transparent,” Pfeiffer says. A movie star’s unstoppable star power had met the immovable object: the secrecy of the fragrance industry. 

Pfeiffer never really desired to start a business. She’d accomplished plenty as an actor, and a new career wasn’t on her bucket list. But now she faced the kind of crossroads that creates entrepreneurs: Something doesn’t exist in the world; there is a problem to be solved. And there’s only one way to solve it. I will have to do this myself, Pfeiffer thought. I will have to build a company.

“I hope you realize what you’re getting yourself into,” she remembers a friend telling

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