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Forvr Mood has inked its first retail partnership.

On July 18, Jackie Aina’s lifestyle company will bring its popular candles to all of Sephora’s U.S. doors. Forvr Mood will join brands such as Otherland, Overose and Jo Malone London, allied electronic services all of which are partners of Sephora’s candle category.

Last year’s pandemic-related lockdowns caused a global surge in candle sales. Consumers stockpiled candles in order to conjure a soothing, indoor vibe that stood in stark contrast to the COVID-19 chaos outside.

In the midst of that surge came Forvr Mood, which just so happened to launch last August with a four-piece collection of coconut wax candles and homebound accessories such as a silk pillowcase and matching headband. Aina, of course, could not have predicted that the items would come during a boom in ancillary home product sales. (Forvr Mood has been in the works since 2018). But she rode that wave, and the tide rose to meet her.

“The candles, in my opinion, sell themselves,” Aina told Beauty Inc. “That’s truly a brand that Dennis [Aina’s fiancé and Forvr Mood’s cofounder] and I really focused on creating: If you didn’t know the founder of the brand, would you still believe in the product? I would like to think people would.”

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Forvr Mood sold $700,000 worth of product within the first four hours of its launch, the company reported to Beauty Inc. It has sold more than 200,000 candles to date, counting $6 million in revenue.

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This year, Forvr Mood is projecting to bring in $10 million in revenue.

“A lot of our growth comes from return customers,” Aina said, noting that the prices — $38 for a 10 oz. candle or $75 for a quarterly subscription — are “premium.”  For reference, Otherland’s 8 oz. candles retail for $36 at Sephora. Jo Malone London sells its 7 oz. candles for $70. Overose sells 8.4 oz for $58.

Forvr Mood’s average order value is $95, the rough equivalent of two room sprays and a candle.

“A lot of people can’t afford a steady influx of home fragrances,” Aina said. “It’s an expensive habit to keep up with. I see a lot of people rebuying their favorites, which is funny because they’re very much like me: When I love something, sometimes I couldn’t afford it and I want to save it for the apocalypse.”

Forvr Mood advertises via Facebook and Instagram. It has yet to tap into paid influencer partnerships, though it has gifted p.r. packages to influencers, according to Aina.

A regular Sephora customer, Aina said she strategically chose to launch Forvr Mood with the retailer as it does not yet have a saturated home fragrance category.

Aina’s Forvr Mood will enter Sephora on July 18. Courtesy of Brandon Lundby / Forvr Mood

“It feels much smaller and more intimate,” Aina said. “The Sephora customer definitely loves what is on trend, what is relevant, what is the cool thing that everybody else is buying. That’s Forvr Mood as a brand.”

Carye Campbell, Sephora’s vice president of merchandising, fragrance, said Aina, who is Nigerian-American, is “known for her advocacy for visibility of people of color in the beauty industry.”

Sephora has previously stated that it plans to double its assortment of Black-owned businesses by the end of 2021. It recently added eight brands, all founded by women of color and all of which participated in its Accelerate Program, to its matrix.

Forvr Mood’s candles “deliver bold, luxurious scents that help elevate and promote self care,” Campbell said. “We are so thrilled to introduce this brand to our Sephora community and know that it will be a wonderful addition to our assortment.”

Aina has been consistent in calling Forvr Mood a “lifestyle brand” since its launch. She plans to expand into lifestyle products, which constitute a broad category that a growing number of beauty brands are attempting to break into.

For the meantime, however, Forvr Mood will stick with seasonal launches.

“We don’t want our customers to feel like this is a cash grab,” Aina said. “We always have to put quality at the forefront of what we launch.”

Its next drop is a birthday collection timed for Aug. 4, which is Aina’s birthday.

Forvr Mood’s most popular collection is Send Moods, which launched in the fall and has the fragrance notes — roasted coffee, pumpkin, grey cedar, vanilla, cinnamon — to match.

“Even though we’re steadily creeping into summer, people are still buying our bolder, headier scents,” Aina said. “We also have a Candle Club, where people get two never-before-[released] scents every quarter. They don’t have names. People have been responding really well.”

Asked for her biggest learning over the past year, Aina named inventory, specifically “how much is too much and how much is not enough.” Forvr Mood recently upgraded its warehouse to a 35,000-square-foot space in Los Angeles, where Aina resides. Securing that space was a feat all its own, as warehouses in Los Angeles are in high demand, according to Aina.

“A lot of people were launching businesses, even though it was a pandemic,” she said. “It ended up working out because our manufacturing partner also manufactures for other brands, so it’s somewhat of a shared space.”

Another learning: “stuff takes forever,” especially raw materials, and especially during the pandemic. And a third: “most founders don’t make a ton of money off of their brands,” at least in the beginning.

“Those are the years where you’re putting all that money back into the company,” Aina said. “Be mindful of that. Don’t quit your day job too quickly. It’ll always be just the beginning, and you have to continuously work and make sure you can position yourself for longevity before you can start enjoying the fruits of the labor.”

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