Jackie Aina knows fragrance. Sure, the beloved vlogger is best recognized for her makeup and skin-care content — but watch a little more closely and you'll notice she makes a point of smelling the products she's testing on camera, and often talks about scents on Twitter. Not just a casual perfume collector, Aina's passion for fragrance goes way back to childhood, and to hyperhidrosis, the excessive sweating condition she and her mother share.
"Our way of bonding was trying to figure out how to mask the smell," Aina tells Refinery29. She learned the importance of scent at a young age, and got familiar with the ins and outs of fragrance. That adolescent relationship with perfumes eventually developed into an adult relationship with candles to set a mood as she worked from home, which has now evolved into Aina's newest venture: a self-care lifestyle brand called FORVR mood, launching today with a four-piece candle collection.
As Aina explains it, FORVR mood has been a long time coming. She first aimed to launch in 2018, but the plan didn't make it off the ground; she held off conversations until revisiting the idea with her fiancé, Denis Asamoah, in late 2019. It was only when the COVID-19 pandemic hit that she realized she wanted to do what most businesses were definitely not doing: rush her launch. With so many people spending more time at home, Aina decided there was no better time to send out the message of self-care that her brand is rooted in. "I want people to actually get a product that makes them feel good right now," she says.
In addition to good vibes, there's one other thing that Aina wants brand supporters to get out of shopping FORVR mood: inspiration. Aina, who was our 2018 Beauty Innovator of the Year, never imagined the success she'd have when she left the U.S. Army and became an entrepreneur. "I hope that people can see a Black woman doing it, and doing something on her own," she says. "I don't have a wealthy family. I don't come from connections. I've built this entirely on my own and with my faith in God and my followers' support.."
With the launch of her new brand, Aina is thinking big picture, and hoping that she can help shift the conversations around self-care and grind culture — as she herself has reflected on during her career. "I feel that, especially in the black community, we're not saying, 'Look sis, take care of yours,' and I felt it was extremely important to create products that were solution-based on making people feel good inside," she says. "It's about reeducating how we grind. I don't just grind with my content; I also grind with my mental health and self-care."
Right now, FORVR mood might offer four candles, but Aina is intentional about it becoming an all-encompassing lifestyle brand rather than a just-one-thing brand. "It really is about a particular lifestyle. I want to teach women to take care of themselves first," she says. "You can't help someone else until you're good. So get good, and then worry about other people."
In some cases, getting good could be as simple as setting an ambiance. Aina made sure to have different moods reflected within the candle collection, which is eco-friendly, free of sulfates or parabens, and made of 100% coconut soy wax that burns up to 65 hours. Between a juicy tropical scent called Left On Read, the universally-delightful citrus option Cuffing Season, the dessert-y Caked Up (which the founder calls "the quintessential Jackie Aina scent") and warm, nutty Matcha Business, there's truly something for everyone. FORVR mood will also be dropping a silk pillowcase and headband to set the self-care mood even further.
The candles are just the start, as Aina shares that more launches are well on their way, with skin-care hybrid products down the pipeline — and hopefully perfumes one day, too. "I still wear my fragrances, even when I'm at home. It's part of feeling good, so I would love to share that experience with other people," she says.
As she celebrates the launch and looks to the future, Aina isn't concerned about the business's success metrics (the collection sold out of pre-sale inventory within minutes) — she's more focused on how far she's come. Remembering the start of her career 11 years ago, she recalls feeling weird talking to the camera in a room alone, at a time when YouTube tutorials weren't happening. She didn't let any of those awkward moments, or even a lack of support, stop her from pursuing her passions.
"Starting a business or even doing something unconventional is probably going to garner a lot of criticism," Aina says. "You need to be able to confidently still believe in yourself with or without approvals and keep going, because that's always what I've had to do. Don't ever be discouraged." Believing in yourself should be a forever mood.