ENTREPRENEUR’S CORNER By New York Lifestyles
By Judy GossOne of the magical things about New York City is that anyone can plant their seed here and blossom into a tremendous success no matter where they are from in the world. Remember Frank Sinatra as he sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…”? I’m reminded of this as I listen to the light-hearted lilt of Sue Phillip’s South African accent as she unfolds her story in front of me in her captivating Manhattan Scentarium shop beginning from her remote upbringing in South Africa as a child.
ACT II After years of being in corporate America working as a national leader in training for the cosmetics industry, Sue eventually found her niche and second passion (in addition to singing and dancing) in the perfume industry. Don’t get me wrong—she still kept her hand in the entertainment industry by singing and dancing in the evenings at cabarets and such, but now her focus was on building her corporate career. And when she was eventually introduced to the fragrance world it took on a whole new light, or…sense, shall we say. But before her fragrance career began, Sue was promoted into color cosmetics from her corporate training position at Elizabeth Arden and started learning about eye shadows, lipsticks, mascaras and how companies are marketing these products to women. “What girl doesn’t want to know that stuff, right?” Sue said with a chuckle, then afterward Arden promoted her into fragrance marketing which instantly became her greatest passion. “With lipsticks and eye shadows you can immediately see the difference. With fragrance, it’s so intangible, you can’t see anything—but you can definitely feel the difference. It reflects who you are.” Sue opened up a whole new world for herself, leading to her next venture at Lancôme where as Marketing Director she worked on Chloe, Burberry, and Lagerfeld fragrances. She started to feel a “love and kinship” for fragrances, a much deeper passion than what she had felt with cosmetics and color. Lancôme at the time was very focused on cosmetics and skincare treatment and considered fragrance to be the “stepchild” of the company. But with Sue’s obsession for the potential of what fragrance could do for the public’s olfaction, she paved the way for Lancôme to eventually make their fragrance department a top competitor in the industry. While at Lancôme, little did Sue know that her career was about to take on an even more high-profile turn and propel her up into the top echelons of the fragrance industry.
ACT V For most people, reaching the pinnacle of an entrepreneurial career as a world-renowned consultant would be good enough, but as a visionary Sue realized seven years ago that fragrances had a different future and she wanted to be leading the pack. She noticed consumers were getting tired of having to choose premade perfume types or a celebrity’s choice of perfume that may or may not fit into their personality and scent preference. So Sue capitalized on an evolving future of customized scents for everyone, perfumes that people could create themselves—bespoke fragrances, as Sue calls it. As the world exploded into customized industries from vacations to interior design, Sue awakened her industry to the beginning of tailored perfumes with her picturesque haven of a perfumery called Scentarium located in Downtown Manhattan. The shop hypnotizes the soul with its charm and beauty, enrapturing all the senses with glorious scents, music and exquisite paintings her mother created for her as one of the most talented artists in South Africa. Scentarium clients range from celebrities (Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes are fans) to six-year-old girls to 80-year-old birthday parties. Also in the mix are Fortune 500 companies who request team building conferences and celebratory events like AOL, Bulgari, COTY and hundreds of other corporations who have hired her to set up fragrance bars at their events for their employees to experience the art of custom perfume creation.
THE FINALE Looking back Sue exclaims “If you had told me that growing up in South Africa I would land up being in NYC singing, dancing and working in the cosmetic industry then eventually developing a fragrance for Tiffany, I would have said you’re crazy!” I have a feeling the curtain is not even close to coming down yet on Sue’s ventures.