Ivanka Trump's first-ever candle — musky, with notes of peach and vanilla — is the first daughter in scent form: conventionally pretty, sweet, carefully curated, and disappointing to a certain audience.
But many of her fans are able to mentally separate Ivanka the businesswoman from the Ivanka whom feminists have criticized for not meaningfully standing up to her father's policies, a large number of which hurt women. According to one poll earlier this year, one in eight people who voted for Donald Trump said they would change their vote, but that hasn't seemed to affect sales of Ivanka's brand.
When I interviewed several women at the opening of Ivanka's new store in the lobby of Trump Tower — a small kiosk where you can find handbags, jewelry, holiday ornaments, and that new candle (called Dream and Do), all at fair price points — this became particularly clear.
Janet Loyd, 59, who is from the Atlanta area, said she voted for Trump, but wouldn't do so again if given the chance. But Ivanka is a different story. "She just seems sincere and seems to care. She’s got a good soul. Just, to me," she said. "She just seems like somebody you can trust. I value her opinion."
Loyd added: "I truly think she has different views than her father."
Judging by the enthusiasm around Ivanka's brand, it seems clear that the #GrabYourWallet boycotts aimed at the company earlier this year didn't quite pan out, perhaps because they were targeted at people who already weren't fans of Ivanka or because coverage of the boycott has helped bring attention to the brand. Despite being dropped from Nordstrom and other retailers, the brand saw wholesale revenue rise by 61% to $47.3 million in 2016. So it looks like Ivanka, advisor to the president, got her wish of being able to separate business from politics.
For the record, Ivanka doesn't seem to be directly involved with the store, though we couldn't get a specific answer on this from her team. She was in Washington, D.C., at a meeting about deregulation during the store's official opening Thursday. With this store, her second attempt at a brick-and-mortar in the U.S. (the first one shuttered), the company hopes "to introduce the brand to a broader customer base and engage with them directly," according to Rosemary Young, the company's VP of marketing and brand strategy.
Ivanka has elicited criticism for being soft on women's issues by speaking about women's empowerment, but not acting when it matters, like when she backed the decision to roll back an equal-pay measure or stayed mum about her father's Charlottesville comments.
But her core fan base seems to be as strong as ever.
When I asked a trio of women leaving Ivanka's store what they like about her, one of them offered, "We like everything." Another said, "We like everything Trump." Then they hurried out to the street through the gold and marble lobby, past the X-ray machines, metal detectors, and men with machine guns.