Global clean-beauty pioneer, Floral Street, has just launched a new collection of mood-enhancing home scents that will bring bold, beautiful bursts of colour and fragrance into your happy spaces. Beauty powerhouse Michelle Feeney founded independent and British, floral street and Sabi Phagura caught up with her for a chat.
Luxurious Magazine: You’ve been in the beauty industry for many years; tell us how your journey began into this very competitive market?
Michelle Feeney: I started my career in fashion show production and PR in the early 80s in London when it was an incredibly energetic time. With bigger opportunities opening up for women, I then moved to NYC in 1990, where I built my own PR company and established a reputation in a very short period of time.
That good work led to me being headhunted by the Estee Lauder Companies, creating and establishing global cult brands, including Crème de La Mer. This led to the position of Vice President, Global Communications of MAC Cosmetics.
I spent seven incredible years establishing their fashion outreach globally, accelerating the story of the MAC AIDS FUND and playing a key role in their growth to become the world’s biggest make-up brand. I moved back to the UK in 2003 and was appointed CEO of St Tropez, turning it into a market leader with my visionary business approach before PZ Cussons acquired it.
Then at the age of 51, I decided to take a gap year to really think about how I could best channel my years of experience into the industry. If I was going to come back into beauty, I wanted to focus on being different and environmentally responsible.
LM: When did you decide to venture out and go solo?
Michelle: I had the idea for my own brand for a while but needed time to decide how I would do it and if, indeed, the world needed more product. I observed the way beauty was creating so much landfill with far too much packaging, but I felt I had an opportunity to make a statement. Also, I noticed that the fragrance industry hadn’t evolved in the same way as other beauty categories.
MAC, for example, makes make-up artistry a career and, via its experts, helps the consumer to be their own artist. I realised no one had done that in fragrance. So, I saw a gap in the market for a modern brand that offers sustainable fine fragrance in a uniquely engaging way and all at an affordable price.
I returned to Beauty in November 2017, launching my independent, ‘clean’ brand, accessible to all! From the very beginning, I wanted to make Floral Street a beacon for change with core values of environmental consideration. I also wanted to help people become connoisseurs of fragrance as you do of wine or chocolate.
Over my time in the industry, I have developed a knowledge of what is a great product and how to engage with a diverse audience. So, I set out to help individuals appreciate and enjoy the world of scent.
Our Scentschools offer an interactive journey of sustainable fragrance discovery so you can realise your favourite perfumes and understand from source to scent where they come from. I have founded a brand that proves you can have long-lasting fine fragrance and beautiful packaging, all created in a considered and considerate way.
LM: Floral Street is known as a luxurious sustainable brand. Why was it important for you to ensure the products are ethically sourced and produced?
Michelle: I realised four years ago that sustainability was going to be the new luxury. We have to commit to protecting our planet, and as a mother to two young adults, I believe we need to do what we can for future generations. Therefore, it was essential for me to build an ethical brand that applies the 5 R’s to every aspect of the business – Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.
However, being ethical means you can’t go as fast potentially, but we focus on it at every stage. We know it’s a journey, and we face new challenges every day, but you have to consider the whole responsible life cycle and every element that goes into the final product, from the raw materials and how they are processed, to the recyclable packaging, manufacturing methods and the whole supply chain.
We choose to partner with our fragrance manufacturer, Robertet, because they are a world leader in sustainable, natural raw materials all traceable to source. Protecting the environment is their second nature, and they have an unparalleled approach to ethical practices.
For example, no endangered crops such as rosewood are used in our perfumes, and we choose Australian sandalwood for our Electric Rhubarb as it’s the ecologically responsible choice to other overharvested sandalwoods around the world.
Our fragrances also contain synthetic or nature-identical ingredients and accords as these can be more eco-friendly. In less than four years of trading, I am so proud that Floral Street has been acknowledged globally for our eco-conscious values, and we are now available in 19 countries. Our small, British brand has definitely gone global!
LM: Do you think consumers’ own approach to products has changed in terms of wanting to buy eco-friendly and sustainable products?
Michelle: Yes, especially in the last year when people have had more time to consider their purchase choices. Consumers are increasingly seeking brands that are aligned with their own personal ethics and are now actually demanding ‘responsible’ products. I have learnt that if you strive to make a business not just about money but also for good and influence, the two can work in tandem. I think the world of business is having to wake up to this as young Gen Z consumers are wanting it as they choose the brands to invest in.
However, there are no clear industry standards for ethical or ‘clean’, so it is important to choose brands with clear and transparent policies and certifications. As a conscious company, we make it easier for consumers to know what we stand for by using symbols as a shortcut to knowing our sustainability credentials. This helps to guide them to make better ethical choices and purchases.
We are proud to have gained international accreditation from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for being vegan and cruelty-free, which enables us to use their globally recognised bunny logo.
The recycle symbol is clear on all our packaging, and featuring the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo confirms that our paperboard is sourced from responsibly managed forests. Also, we can display the World Land Trust logo, as our carbon balance has helped protect over 6,500m² of the critically threatened tropical rain forest.
LM: Turning our focus on the new collections of home scents, tell us about the ‘Powered by flowers’
Michelle: Powered by flowers is what we have based the whole Floral Street brand on. Our flagship store is in the heart of Covent Garden, London, where the original Victorian flower market was, and this floral inspiration flows through everything. I always have fresh cut flowers in my home, and every time I look at them, they make me smile. They are joyful and the universal language of beauty.
Our sustainable scent creations are the modern way to experience the beauty of florals. Flowers and fragrances can empower us to feel good, and with our new ‘clean’ home collections, we are encouraging you to ‘Bloom Wherever You Are’.
LM: Mental health has been at the forefront for many years now and even more so since lockdown. How can fragrances help lift our moods?
Michelle: I have had challenges with mental health in the past and know that this can affect your self-esteem. The beauty industry as a whole does have the power and ability to make people feel better about themselves. It is not frivolous. You can wash your hair with nice smelling shampoo, streak on a bit of lipstick or spritz a good fragrance, and it can help lift your spirits.
When I launched Floral Street, I realised that fragrance could play a major part in how you feel. It can have a powerful effect on our moods and help create happy places.
Our latest launch is in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, and we chose the Sunflowers masterpiece to inspire our new Sunflower Pop fragrance because it was a particularly happy time for Vincent himself when he painted it in the South of France. Even the thought of a sunflower can lift one’s spirit. Also, using scents within different areas of your home can help make you feel better about life.
It’s about self-care and creating the right atmosphere to reflect how you want to feel. Fragrances can energise and stimulate your mind or simply help to calm your senses.
LM: What’s the best way to make the most of the fragrances from candles and diffusers, and where can we buy them?
Michelle: Our ethical and vegan collections have taken our eco-credentials and joyful approach into the home. Scent-scaping, where you define different spaces with fragrance, is a form of creative expression, an extension of your décor and an effective way to use scented candles and diffusers.
Fragrance can help you zone through time and spaces, dividing your day and boosting your mood. It can also amplify your favourite interior trends, bring your wallpaper to life and add a finishing touch to any room.
I love to delight people with scent, so it motivates me to think about where I position it around my home. Lighting our lady Emma candle in the entrance hall gives visiting friends and family a summery floral first impression. I like to place a santal diffuser in my wardrobe to give my clothes a light waft of exotic spice, and a grapefruit bloom candle in the kitchen perfectly reflects the décor and really uplifts that whole space.
LM: What’s next in the pipeline for Floral Street?
Michelle: My vision is for Floral Street to become a ‘clean’ lifestyle brand, and we have more exciting sustainable product launches coming, including refill options and vegan room sprays. I’m on a path for the foreseeable future to build a meaningful brand that can have more impact on change in responsible beauty as it becomes more successful. Partnerships are really important if you are a small brand. By being part of a bigger movement, you find and connect with others to help champion your messaging and reach a wider audience.
Floral Street – Where and how?
The home fragrance collections are available to buy from www.floralstreet.com, Selfridges and also Nordstrom in the US.
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