Jordin Sparks is flashing her determined side in her latest fragrance, Ambition.
This story first appeared in the October 19, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Right now, I feel like I can take on the world,” said the “American Idol” winner and “Sparkle” star, during a recent shoot for the fragrance in Los Angeles. “Ambition is the perfect word for where I am in my life right now.”
The so named fragrance will be launched in the middle of November. It is certainly a bold departure from Sparks’ 2010 debut fragrance, Because of You. Instead of heading to mass, the new fragrance is aimed at department stores and will be exclusively sold at The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.-owned locations until the second quarter of next year. At $35 for a 2.2-oz. eau de parfum spray, Ambition is also priced at about $20 more than the original fragrance due to packaging and scent upgrades suiting its higher-end positioning.
“We need to grow as she grows and her taste evolves,” said Glenn Palmer, who became Preferred Fragrance’s chief executive officer when Uni-World Capital invested in Sparks’ licensee last November. “With Because of You, she had just won ‘American Idol.’ It was called Because of You because of her fans. Ambition is still for her fans, but it is more about Jordin and how she relates to her fans. This is about her ambition.”
Skewing to a slightly older demographic than Because of You, Ambition’s scent, concocted by Chris Casale of CPL Aromas, opens with notes of white tea, bitter orange and sparkling lemon zest. It has a heart of mint leaf, sea moss, fresh cassis, wild raspberry and precious woods notes, and a base of Tahitian vanilla, resinous benzoin, white musk and sandalwood notes.
Sparks selected the bottle and textured outer packaging that features a picture of her taken last year for an album that didn’t come to fruition. For the bottle, she said, “I wanted something that was really sleek, and I wanted something that was very easy to hold.” Of the box, she said, “It kind of looks like leather. I thought that was really cool.”
As a fan of fragrances like those of Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer Lopez, Sparks understands the appeal of celebrity scents. “I just remember going, ‘I would love to see what JLo smells like or what she thinks smells good,’” she said. “I know that my name is a part of the reason why people get it, but at the same time, I love the fact that I’ve put out a good scent and a good quality product, so that when they do smell it they’re like, ‘OK, this is awesome, I’m going to grab this.’”
Brendan Hoffman, ceo of Bon-Ton, the Milwaukee-based chain that operates 272 stores across 23 states under eight nameplates, believes Sparks, who will be doing public appearances in Milwaukee and Chicago for Ambition, will be a large draw. “The audience that she has is an audience that we at Bon-Ton need to tap into as we evolve,” he said. “Like all department stores, we want to reach out to a younger audience to match with our core, more mature customer. Jordin is a great ambassador to be able to do that.”
Industry sources estimate Ambition will generate $6 million in first-year retail sales. Palmer is confident the fragrance will be a success, pointing to the persistent performance of Because of You. “We haven’t had any erosion of the business. It has gone very, very well,” he said.
Sparks’ ambitions beyond Ambition include building her acting repertoire, returning to singing and perhaps a shoe line. She has dabbled in fashion before with a collection of holiday dresses for Wet Seal in 2008, and suggested footwear might be a good next step. “I wear a size 11 so it’s difficult for me to find shoes, although I do have a lot of shoes because when I find them I get them or else they’ll be gone. I would love to do a line for girls that have bigger size feet like me,” she said.
When it comes to her day job, Sparks finished filming “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” last month. “I don’t sing in the movie at all. I play an Afro-Latina from the Bronx. It just was so fun to be that kind of character and put myself aside for a second and become somebody else,” said Sparks, who joins Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Mackie in the movie’s cast. With films a focus, it’s been difficult for Sparks to get back into the recording studio, but she’s committed to another album. “I am working on my third record. It’s just a matter of balancing it out right now,” she said.