By  on April 17, 2009

Pacifica’s transition from gift brand to beauty brand has been given the stamp of approval from specialty beauty retailers.

The Portland, Ore.-based fragrance marketer started rolling out its products to Sephora stores in the U.S. last month and is entering C.O. Bigelow this month. The retail launches are the result of a push by husband and wife Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor — founders of Pacifica, largely a candle specialist in the past, distributed through regional gift-oriented sales representatives — into the beauty market that began to gain momentum two years ago with the release of spray perfumes.

“It is by far the most exciting time in the history of our brand,” said 45-year-old Taylor, who handles operations at Pacifica, which was established in 1998. “We really have clarified our message, and we have the retail partners that can successfully deliver that message.” Added Harvey-Taylor, 39, the creative force behind Pacifica, “As we go forward with Pacifica, our focus is really on the experience with fragrance and that really is within the beauty realm.”

At beauty stores, the couple explained, Pacifica’s positioning as a natural brand that offers luxurious yet affordable perfumes and related products is paramount. Pacifica’s assortment contains 23 fragrances, with bestsellers being Tahitian Gardenia, Tuscan Blood Orange, Hawaiian Ruby Guava and Brazilian Mango Grapefruit, that are available in spray perfumes, body butters, solid perfumes, soaps and soy candles. Sephora is exclusively carrying an $18 body wash in six scents and a $22 body lotion in six scents. In general, Pacifica’s retail prices range from roughly $5 to $22.

“People love the fact that [Pacifica] is not a big commitment. It is not like [buying] a signature fragrance that is going to wear you around all day,” said Taylor. “Another reason we are launching at C.O. Bigelow and at Sephora is that Pacifica is a good value. In today’s economy, that is of great concern to their customers. They want great quality at a good price.”

Harvey-Taylor prides herself on creating wearable perfumes often rooted in fragrances inspired by places. For example, the history of Lotus Garden, a fragrance introduced last month, can be traced to a lotus garden in Santa Barbara, Calif., not far from the home she shares with Taylor. While sojourning in the garden, Harvey-Taylor took in all the smells, down to the dirt, and reminisced about a trip to Anchor Wat, Cambodia. After about a year in development, Harvey-Taylor settled upon a Lotus Garden fragrance drawing upon the garden and the trip.

Pacifica has regularly released one to two fragrances per year, although Taylor and Harvey-Taylor anticipate the number of new fragrances released annually will slow in the future as the number of product extensions based on existing fragrances mounts. They said the fragrances appeal to a broad array of customers ages 18 to 60, but added that Pacifica’s arrival at Sephora and the addition of solid perfumes last year have helped the brand attract younger audiences.

In the U.S., Taylor estimated that Pacifica has a significant presence, which he defined as at least seven to 12 fragrances, in some 750 doors, including Whole Foods and Sephora. He projected that Pacifica’s wholesale sales will total $13 million to $15 million this year, up about 15 percent from last year.

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