FEATURED ENVIROSTARS

Each month, we feature the story of a recognized EnviroStar business. Find full interview content below.


Featured Business:  Molly Ray Fragrance

We sat down (virtually) with the owner of Molly Ray Fragrance, Molly Ray, to ask her about what actions her business has taken to support the local community during this challenging time, and any advice she has for other small businesses.  





"Yes, I wanted to make nice stuff, but the purpose-driven model is what my business is all about."



Interviewer: We know this is a very difficult time for the small business community, so I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. We have been so inspired by your story of action and resiliency in the face of social and economic upheaval to support your community. We’d love to learn more about you and your business and to share your story with our EnviroStars business community. To start, you’ve been such a champion and sustainability leader over your career – I’d love to hear what inspires you to implement sustainable practices and give back to your community? 

 

Molly: I worked in the corporate sustainability field for 15 years, and one thing I learned was that profit and sustainability aren’t exclusive. Businesses can be purpose-driven, make beautiful products, be a fixture in the community, and still have a profit. These foundational values are what can make for a truly sustainable business that’s going to stick around and provide value to their local community. 
I created a program within my brand called Perfume with Purpose. Yes, I wanted to make nice stuff, but the purpose-driven model is what my business is all about. For each perfume sold, we donate a travel sized perfume bottle to Mary’s Place in Seattle. Mary’s Place provides safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness. The number one item requested in these communities is perfume. To be able to provide women with our perfumes is truly humbling—it’s about restoring dignity though fragrance.  
Seeing the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, I partnered with Big Table. Big Table provides resources to hospitality industry workers, through relief funds, unemployment application assistance, food bank access, legal advice, baby supplies, and lots of other resources. Through the end of May, 30% of my online sales proceeds go directly to Big Table Seattle. 

 

 

Interviewer: How has your experience been as a small business owner, and how have you been able to adapt your business to the changing situation?  

 

Molly: Through the Seattle Good Business Network Weekly Happy Hours, I have been able to hear about a variety of businesses and their challenges facing COVID-19. Everyone has had to pivot. For me, it’s meant that I am unable to sell my products at physical locations, like the airport, museums such as MOHAI, or yoga studios. 
It would’ve been easy to just put everything on pause, but I wasn’t comfortable with that. I started to brainstorm on how I could support my community through my business while creating virtual experiences for my customers.  
Before COVID-19, my partner and I coordinated a series of workshops called “The Perfumer & Barman.” At these workshops, participants design their signature fragrances and my partner creates craft cocktails using ingredients that complement the fragrance notes we are designing with in each session.  
This led to the concept of doing virtual cocktail workshops— “Cocktails Under Quarantine.” We sent out a list of suggested items to all of those who registered online beforehand so they could have ingredients ready to go prior to the workshop, such as herbs and citrus (the basic building blocks of a cocktail) and then encouraged and guided participants to use items they already had at home. There were 40 people who attended the workshop, and we certainly learned a lot! We are going to be doing more workshops in the future, potentially with more specific cocktails. I am also working on developing virtual fragrance design workshops for mid-May where participants can create a spray to revitalize their home exercise area (including their yoga mat).  
Through this workshop, we were able to use the space to provide people with a new, unique experience and some entertainment in an otherwise serious time. All the money generated from the workshop was donated to Big Table Seattle. 
As a creative person who enjoys being productive, it has been challenging to feel grounded during these times. The workshop has given my partner and I a fun opportunity to work together and a sense that we are evolving and creating.   

 

 

Interviewer: We know there’s a lot of information out there for small businesses but it can be hard to know where to start – What resources, information, or assistance on sustainability, resource conservation, and cost savings measures would you like to see to help small businesses during this time? 

 

Molly: Seattle Good Business Network is exploring the development of a Materials Marketplace to help source materials responsibly and locally. Our economy is more sustainable and resilient when we actively support our local businesses. Sourcing locally may also expand partnership opportunities amongst small businesses—now more than ever, collaboration is so important!  
I use locally sourced products whenever possible but there are several products that I can’t get. For example, the glass fixtures, pumps, and caps I use for my fragrances are hard to find locally. 






"...this is a time for us to dig deep for ourselves, our small businesses, and our communities."



Interviewer: What advice do you have for other small businesses who may be looking for creative ways to give back to their community?

 

Molly: The best place to start connecting to community is to see where there’s synergies with your products or services to fulfill some unmet need. My partnership with Mary’s Place wasn’t something I already had in mind – when I came across the wish list of women in the community, I realized there was an opportunity for partnership there. It worked out perfectly – the recipient’s needs lined up with my business offerings.  
As business owners, we are being forced to shift in major ways – we might as well try to shift the way we do business in the most positive way possible! My advice to other businesses would be to not be afraid to stretch and let this be a fresh canvas for your business-- this is a time for us to dig deep for ourselves, our small businesses, and our communities. We need our small businesses, so hang in there! 

 

 

Interviewer: Thank you so much Molly for chatting with us today! Your story of innovation and pivoting is so inspiring during this time, and we are thrilled to be able to share your experience with our EnviroStars business community!  


Resources and Organizations Mentioned in this Article: 

Molly Ray Fragrance - https://www.fragrancebymr.com/ 
Perfume with Purpose Program - https://www.fragrancebymr.com/perfume-with-a-purpose 
Mary’s Place - https://www.marysplaceseattle.org/ 
Big Table Seattle - https://big-table.com/seattle/ 
Seattle Good Business Network - https://seattlegood.org/ 
Seattle Good Business Network: Seattle Made Member Happy Hours - https://seattlegood.org/event/seattle-made-member-weekly-virtual-happy-hour-2020-04-16-2020-04-23/ 


Featured Business:  Molly Ray Fragrance

We sat down (virtually) with the owner of Molly Ray Fragrance, Molly Ray, to ask her about what actions her business has taken to support the local community during this challenging time, and any advice she has for other small businesses.  





"Yes, I wanted to make nice stuff, but the purpose-driven model is what my business is all about."



Interviewer: We know this is a very difficult time for the small business community, so I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. We have been so inspired by your story of action and resiliency in the face of social and economic upheaval to support your community. We’d love to learn more about you and your business and to share your story with our EnviroStars business community. To start, you’ve been such a champion and sustainability leader over your career – I’d love to hear what inspires you to implement sustainable practices and give back to your community? 

 

Molly: I worked in the corporate sustainability field for 15 years, and one thing I learned was that profit and sustainability aren’t exclusive. Businesses can be purpose-driven, make beautiful products, be a fixture in the community, and still have a profit. These foundational values are what can make for a truly sustainable business that’s going to stick around and provide value to their local community. 
I created a program within my brand called Perfume with Purpose. Yes, I wanted to make nice stuff, but the purpose-driven model is what my business is all about. For each perfume sold, we donate a travel sized perfume bottle to Mary’s Place in Seattle. Mary’s Place provides safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness. The number one item requested in these communities is perfume. To be able to provide women with our perfumes is truly humbling—it’s about restoring dignity though fragrance.  
Seeing the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, I partnered with Big Table. Big Table provides resources to hospitality industry workers, through relief funds, unemployment application assistance, food bank access, legal advice, baby supplies, and lots of other resources. Through the end of May, 30% of my online sales proceeds go directly to Big Table Seattle. 

 

 

Interviewer: How has your experience been as a small business owner, and how have you been able to adapt your business to the changing situation?  

 

Molly: Through the Seattle Good Business Network Weekly Happy Hours, I have been able to hear about a variety of businesses and their challenges facing COVID-19. Everyone has had to pivot. For me, it’s meant that I am unable to sell my products at physical locations, like the airport, museums such as MOHAI, or yoga studios. 
It would’ve been easy to just put everything on pause, but I wasn’t comfortable with that. I started to brainstorm on how I could support my community through my business while creating virtual experiences for my customers.  
Before COVID-19, my partner and I coordinated a series of workshops called “The Perfumer & Barman.” At these workshops, participants design their signature fragrances and my partner creates craft cocktails using ingredients that complement the fragrance notes we are designing with in each session.  
This led to the concept of doing virtual cocktail workshops— “Cocktails Under Quarantine.” We sent out a list of suggested items to all of those who registered online beforehand so they could have ingredients ready to go prior to the workshop, such as herbs and citrus (the basic building blocks of a cocktail) and then encouraged and guided participants to use items they already had at home. There were 40 people who attended the workshop, and we certainly learned a lot! We are going to be doing more workshops in the future, potentially with more specific cocktails. I am also working on developing virtual fragrance design workshops for mid-May where participants can create a spray to revitalize their home exercise area (including their yoga mat).  
Through this workshop, we were able to use the space to provide people with a new, unique experience and some entertainment in an otherwise serious time. All the money generated from the workshop was donated to Big Table Seattle. 
As a creative person who enjoys being productive, it has been challenging to feel grounded during these times. The workshop has given my partner and I a fun opportunity to work together and a sense that we are evolving and creating.   

 

 

Interviewer: We know there’s a lot of information out there for small businesses but it can be hard to know where to start – What resources, information, or assistance on sustainability, resource conservation, and cost savings measures would you like to see to help small businesses during this time? 

 

Molly: Seattle Good Business Network is exploring the development of a Materials Marketplace to help source materials responsibly and locally. Our economy is more sustainable and resilient when we actively support our local businesses. Sourcing locally may also expand partnership opportunities amongst small businesses—now more than ever, collaboration is so important!  
I use locally sourced products whenever possible but there are several products that I can’t get. For example, the glass fixtures, pumps, and caps I use for my fragrances are hard to find locally. 






"...this is a time for us to dig deep for ourselves, our small businesses, and our communities."



Interviewer: What advice do you have for other small businesses who may be looking for creative ways to give back to their community?

 

Molly: The best place to start connecting to community is to see where there’s synergies with your products or services to fulfill some unmet need. My partnership with Mary’s Place wasn’t something I already had in mind – when I came across the wish list of women in the community, I realized there was an opportunity for partnership there. It worked out perfectly – the recipient’s needs lined up with my business offerings.  
As business owners, we are being forced to shift in major ways – we might as well try to shift the way we do business in the most positive way possible! My advice to other businesses would be to not be afraid to stretch and let this be a fresh canvas for your business-- this is a time for us to dig deep for ourselves, our small businesses, and our communities. We need our small businesses, so hang in there! 

 

 

Interviewer: Thank you so much Molly for chatting with us today! Your story of innovation and pivoting is so inspiring during this time, and we are thrilled to be able to share your experience with our EnviroStars business community!  


Resources and Organizations Mentioned in this Article: 

Molly Ray Fragrance - https://www.fragrancebymr.com/ 
Perfume with Purpose Program - https://www.fragrancebymr.com/perfume-with-a-purpose 
Mary’s Place - https://www.marysplaceseattle.org/ 
Big Table Seattle - https://big-table.com/seattle/ 
Seattle Good Business Network - https://seattlegood.org/ 
Seattle Good Business Network: Seattle Made Member Happy Hours - https://seattlegood.org/event/seattle-made-member-weekly-virtual-happy-hour-2020-04-16-2020-04-23/ 

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