The Scent Master: Maekaeda Gibbons of Brown Sugar Babe

Courtesy of Maekaeda Gibbons and Photo Illustration by Keila Gonzalez

Image Source: Maekaeda Gibbons

For Maekaeda Gibbons, fragrance has always been a way for her to feel connected to her mother. “I grew up in Trinidad and my mother first moved to the United States before we could follow her,” Gibbons tells PS. Though she would visit, Gibbons distinctly remembered how sad she was every time her mother would leave again, but there was one way she could temper the feeling. “She would leave behind her clothes that had her perfume on it, and it would always remind me of her.”

That experience taught Gibbons how fragrance affected her mood – a fact that she would come to lean on as she ventured into corporate America. “By trade, I’m a financial analyst, and I was a loan officer for Bank of America,” Gibbons says. “A few years into my career, I realized that I was extremely stressed during my day-to-day, but perfumes often helped to combat that. If I had a difficult customer or interaction at work, I’d apply my favorite scent to my wrists, and it would instantly calm me down.”

Noticing each formula’s effects on her, Gibbons decided to play around in the space by creating her own concoctions. “I started formulating oils that were well-documented for having calming and relaxing effects, and my coworkers would beg me to make them some. I started selling them, and it all kind of snowballed from there.”

Though the beginnings of Brown Sugar Babe were born out of a need for self-care, the name of the company comes from Gibbon’s love of a certain genre of music. “When naming the company, I started remembering some of the happiest times that I had as a teenager and it was in high school when ‘Brown Sugar’ by D’Angelo was popular,” she says. “For me, fragrance and music have always gone hand in hand, likely because they both can evoke memories, but I leaned heavily on my love of music when first starting Brown Sugar Babe. You can see the influence of my love for popular R&B songs from the ’80s and ’90s in the names of some of my earlier creations.”

Over the years, Gibbons’s understanding of fragrances has evolved from a simple form of stress relief to a powerful business that other people can enjoy. “I’ve realized that fragrance is very subjective, but this company has always been one that listens to its customers,” Gibbons says. “Every so often, we put a call out there for what people want to see from us or any scents that they’d like for us to create our versions of, and that’s how we continue to come out with such a varied amount of fragrance oils.”

In the future, Gibbons hopes to expand Brown Sugar Babe into other cosmetic categories. “I can’t say too much, but we’re getting into home fragrance and the hair space,” she says. “There are going to be some changes to our existing body-care lineup, as well. I’m just really excited to continue being able to use fragrance to impact people that people’s lives.”

Ariel Baker is the assistant editor for POPSUGAR Beauty. Her areas of expertise include celebrity news, beauty trends, and product reviews. She has additional bylines with Essence and Forbes Vetted.

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