Fragrance with a Heritage: The Ascent of Scent of Caraibes by Kiese Sam
Discover the inspiring journey of Caraibes, a fragrance line weaving the rich combination of Caribbean and Latin American cultures into a global scent sensation.
Caraibes, LLC, a venture born out of a unique blend of personal heritage and creative ambition, represents a fragrant homage to the rich collection of Caribbean and Latin American cultures. Kiese Sam, the CEO and mastermind behind this innovative fragrance line, reveals the intricacies of her business, which is much more than just a collection of scents. Each fragrance in her line is not just a sensory experience but also an educational journey, dedicated to an island in the Caribbean & countries in Latin America.
In the words of Sam, “Every fragrance is going to have a QR code… which will lead them to my website, and it will have them read about the island the fragrance represents.” This pioneering approach is not just about olfactory pleasure but also about cultural enlightenment. This idea, conceived around April 2020, shortly after the birth of her sixth child, stemmed from a deep desire to pay tribute to her Caribbean lineage. Sam, a New Yorker with roots in Saint Thomas, USVI, BVI, Antigua, Aruba, and Saint Vincent, envisioned Caraibes, LLC., as a bridge between her heritage and the wider world.
Her initiative goes beyond just creating fragrances; it’s about correcting misconceptions and expanding the understanding of the islands beyond their picturesque landscapes. “We are way more than just beautiful beaches,” Sam asserts, highlighting her commitment to educating tourists and enthusiasts about the rich and diverse cultures of these regions.
Caraibes, LLC. operates on a wholesale model, welcoming partnerships with fragrance companies interested in selling their products. Sam emphasizes the importance of a basic yet protective contract for both parties, ensuring the integrity and distribution of the fragrances. The company’s website, continuously updated with each new collection, provides detailed information about each scent and the island it represents.
The first collection features ‘Ville de Amore’, a tribute to St. John, U.S.V.I., described by Sam as a long-lasting, sweet, floral perfume. Packaged in a 90-milliliter bottle, it requires only a few sprays for an enduring scent. But ‘Ville de Amore’ is just the beginning. Sam eagerly notes the expansion of the collection, including fragrances representing Tortola, Chile, Belize, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and St. Croix, USVI. Each scent is carefully crafted to encapsulate the essence and reputation of its respective island, offering tourists a tangible, lasting memento of their experiences.
The Inspirational Journey of Kiese Sam
The path leading to the creation of Caraibes, LLC.,is as rich and multifaceted as the fragrances themselves. Sam, driven by a deep entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for marketing, embarked on a journey that is both personal and philanthropic, intertwining her love for beauty and wellness with a desire to give back to her community.
“I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Sam recalls, her voice imbued with determination. Her academic background in marketing and an internship at the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism provided her with a unique perspective on promoting, not just products, but entire cultures and destinations. This experience laid the groundwork for what would later become a pivotal venture in her life.
Balancing her role as a mother of six, Sam’s drive is fueled by a desire to inspire her children, to show them the possibilities that lie in pursuing one’s passions. “I always try to instill in them that work isn’t strenuous or hard if you love what you do,” she reflects, emphasizing the importance of finding joy and fulfillment in one’s professional endeavors.
Her epiphany came in a moment of introspection, postpartum, during a late-night contemplation. “It’s when I say perfume. I cannot go anywhere without it. Why not go in the business of it?” This realization sparked the inception of Caraibes, LLC.. For Sam, it wasn’t just about launching a fragrance line; it was about crafting a narrative that would resonate beyond the confines of the perfume industry. Her aim was to elevate the perception of the Caribbean and Latin America, transforming them from mere dots on the map to vibrant, culturally rich destinations.
Philanthropy lies at the heart of Sam’s venture. “I have to be an entrepreneur that makes X amount to make sure that I’m able to give back monetarily to the community that serves me,” she states. This sense of responsibility towards her community is a driving force behind her business, propelling her to intertwine commercial success with social contribution. Through Caraibes, LLC., Sam envisions not only the creation of a successful brand but also the opportunity to educate and give back, thereby fostering a cycle of empowerment and cultural appreciation.
Partnerships Paving the Way
The success of Caraibes, LLC., is not solely a tale of individual creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s also a story about the power of strategic partnerships and the value of mutual respect in business relationships. Sam delves into the integral role her vendors and suppliers have played in her journey, shining a light on the collaborative nature of her enterprise.
Sam eagerly acknowledges the support of DSM Firmenich, a significant player in the fragrance industry. “When I met with them, they took a gamble on this single mother of six,” she recalls, underscoring the risk they undertook in supporting her ambitious project. This partnership was more than a business transaction; it was a vote of confidence in her vision and capabilities. DSM Firmenich treated Sam with the same respect and diligence they would accord a seasoned player in the fragrance industry, an approach that deeply impacted her.
Another crucial collaborator in her venture is Quality Resource Services. Sam’s voice reflects gratitude as she recounts how they came into the picture. “I was referred to them… and happening was, I was doing this alone,” she explains. This referral was pivotal, steering her away from potential pitfalls in the industry. Quality Resource Services didn’t just offer a service; they offered a partnership, providing guidance and support through the complexities of launching a business.
The availability of these fragrances is a critical component of Sam’s business strategy. Currently in discussions with the Duffry group, which specializes in sales points on cruise ships and airports, she is also reaching out to high-end retailers like Macy’s, J.C. Penny, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Meanwhile, Posh Boutique, My Girlfriend’s Closet, & Serenity Glow Candle Co. in the Virgin Islands serves as the pioneer retail partner, having already signed a contract to sell her fragrances. This strategic distribution approach reflects Sam’s dedication to making Caraibes, LLC. a globally recognized brand, while also ensuring it remains rooted in the culture and essence of the Caribbean and Latin American location it represents.
In these collaborations, respect and loyalty emerge as recurring themes. “The respect and loyalty was there. And that’s something I’m big on,” Sam emphasizes, acknowledging the importance of these values in her professional relationships. Her experience with these contractors has fostered a sense of deep loyalty and trust, laying the foundation for long-term partnerships that will continue to support the growth and evolution of Caraibes, LLC.
Vision for the Future
In the world of fragrance, where trends shift like winds and competition is as intense as the scents vying for attention, Caraibes, LLC. under Sam’s stewardship, is charting a course towards global recognition and influence. Sam’s ambitions for her brand are clear and unyielding. “I will be worldwide in the next ten years,” she asserts confidently. Her goal is not just to expand geographically but to ascend to the pinnacle of the fragrance world.
The strategy to achieve this is as multifaceted as the scents she creates. Sam envisions a robust marketing campaign encompassing models, television spots, radio segments, and print advertising. “I am on that marketing trip with Kahani, making sure I use as many Caribbean and Latin American resources as possible,” she says, highlighting her commitment to leveraging regional resources and talents. This approach not only broadens the brand’s appeal but also serves to amplify the voices and skills from her community.
Sam’s passion for her Caribbean roots is palpable and deeply personal. Growing up in the USVI, she experienced firsthand the scarcity of resources and the lack of recognition of Caribbean and Latin American histories and cultures. “The Caribbean and Latin America history has not been told, has not been exposed,” she notes with a sense of responsibility. This awareness fuels her commitment to not just building a fragrance empire but also to elevating the global understanding and appreciation of her heritage.
At the end of the day, the core message Sam wants to convey through Caraibes, LLC. is both profound and simple: identity and self-care. She believes her fragrances are more than just perfumes; they are conduits for personal expression and wellbeing. “The information in there that’s given provides the identity and the self-care with the fragrances,” she explains. For Sam, Caraibes, LLC. is not just about enhancing beauty; it’s about nurturing a deeper sense of self and cultural pride, a mission that transcends gender and speaks to the human need for recognition and care.
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AT A GLANCE
What: A unique fragrance line dedicated to Caribbean and Latin American cultures, founded by Kiese Sam
Where: Based in the Virgin Islands, expanding globally
Facebook: Caraibes, LLC.