Backstory

Backstory: Scents, company come from desire for strength, beauty

vbridges@newsobserver.comMarch 24, 2014 

Regina Gale, owner of Regina Gale Cosmetics, stands in her finished basement, where she mixes all of her products that include perfumes and makeup.

VIRGINIA BRIDGES — vbridges@newsobserver.com

  • Advice from Regina Gale

    • Make sure what you offer helps other people.

    • Know that there is a power greater than you, and sometimes you just have to have faith.

— For Regina Gale, her fragrances are like a volume of stories composed of courage, friendship and strength.

“Every perfume that I make is inspired from something,” said Gale, 57, who founded Regina Gale Cosmetics in 2010. “There is a story wrapped into it.”

She created ReggiD, her signature fragrance that has a warm citrus note and a delicate floral-woodsy scent, in 2007. Her mother had died of cancer and her sister also had the disease. Her husband was estranged. Her job was intense, and she didn’t want her son to see her pain.

So Gale made a perfume that she could wear like a shield against the stress.

“I needed something that would give me strength,” Gale said. “I needed something that would make me feel good, give me that lift. Give me those things that make me feel empowered.”

When Gale was a little girl, she loved to go through her mother’s perfumes and fell in love with those special touches that help women feel pretty.

When Gale got older, she couldn’t find makeup that didn’t cast gray late in the day or a scent that met her standards. She started mixing her own makeup in 2000 while living in Newark, Calif., and working as a pharmaceutical sales representative, which included six years of selling skin care products.

She got serious about mixing perfumes, she said, in 2005 after taking an aromatherapy class. Gale started selling her products in 2009 after women at her doctors’ offices asked her where they could buy the scent she was wearing.

In 2010, Gale was laid off and moved to the Triangle.

It was a blessing, Gale said, as she would have more time to spend with her family and on her business. Initially, her focus centered on getting her son through high school and driving him to extra-curricular activities. In her free time, she would network with organizations that she found through meetup.com.

However, transitioning from working for a company on the West Coast, where she had many contacts and friends, to running her own business on the East Coast, where she knew only her husband and son, was “nerve-wracking,” to say the least.

“I wasn’t sure,” she said. “Will they like me?”

After her son got a car, Gale said she could no longer make excuses about growing her business. To build up her confidence, she turned to business coaches, networking groups and a local Toastmasters International club.

Those opportunities have taught her to speak up about her business, pushed her to focus on a target market of women looking for unique products, and expand her marketing efforts by creating a weekly newsletter, “Beauty Begins at Fifty,” with information about products, style trends and the personal journeys of her writers.

Her products include a retail line of men’s and women’s perfumes, along with lotions, foundations and eye shadows. She makes everything in a room in her basement, which is lined with shelves of small bottles filled with ingredients such as talcum powder, crushed pearls, silk and oils.

Her cosmetics start at about $15 for eye shadow and $30 for perfumes, and customized fragrances start at $2,500 for the three-month process. Gale has about 75 established clients, and also sells her products through her website and in two Triangle outlets: Jack-Men’s Provisions, a men’s store in Brightleaf Square in Durham and Flawless Day Spa in Chapel Hill.

“I am that alternative for people who are looking for something unique,” she said.

Bridges: 919-829-8917; Twitter: @virginiabridges

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