Alexia P. Hammonds has made history.
Her hair fragrance, Eat.Sweat.Undress, launched in October 2020 and established her as the first Black woman to have a hair fragrance manufactured in Grasse, France, the world’s perfume capital. She’s ecstatic about breaking new ground.
“I love that. Like, no matter what happens or how I transition in my fragrance business, I love knowing that I’ll be able to tell my kids, mommy was the first Black woman to do something,” Hammond said to ESSENCE.
What makes her product unique is that in addition to freshening the hair, it nourishes as well, which is key when creating products with a range of hair types in mind. “I have two luxury haircare benefits in my hair perfume,” she said. “So I have keratin and…I have the highest percentage of fragrance oil and the least amount of ethanol alcohol, which is the safe alcohol to having in a hair product for your hair so it doesn’t dry it out.”
The fitness instructor turned beauty businesswoman is nearly ten years in and is bringing her love for and dedication to fragrance to an expansive audience. She creates for the modern, active woman and is making self-care all the more accessible for the booked and busy.
We caught up with the entrepreneur about Eat.Sweat.Undress, what this venture has taught her and more in an exclusive conversation.
ESSENCE: Talk to me a little bit about your lifelong passion for fragrances.
Alexia P. Hammond (APH): So my mom, my grandmother and my aunt, they all had a large affinity for fragrance and they taught me and my girl cousins all about how to wear fragrances….I feel like a woman needs a full wardrobe of fragrances.
My mom bought me fragrance making books and I started to make my own little fragrances at home. My first job ever, I was 16 at this place called Garden Botanica in Atlanta. The whole job is…mixing fragrances into bath and body products for consumers. And so I always knew that I wanted to have a perfume line. I knew I wanted it to be created in Grasse, France, because as I knew and as I studied my books, Grasse, France is the historic birthplace of perfume.
[W]ith there not being a lot of Black faces in the fragrance space,…I wanted to make sure that I could have that cachet behind my brand and my collection to say, ‘Okay, she has a fragrance made in Grasse, France.’ And at the time I didn’t realize that I would be the first Black woman to do so.
ESSENCE: For those who are unaware, what are some of the dos and don’ts of hair fragrances? Can you mix it with heat?
APH: I live in Texas, so you don’t want to keep your hair perfume bottle in your car, you know. Just keep it in a cold place, just like you would any other care product or any skincare, product that you invest your money in that you want to have longevity and perform well.
ESSENCE: You were a fitness teacher before this facet of business started. So how did you go from being involved in the more rigorous aspects of physical fitness, to then transitioning to, ‘Okay, I can deal with the body, just in a different way.‘
APH: So I taught classical Pilates internationally for years, like, I’d say 15+ years now. And I started Eat.Sweat.Undress in 2012. [E]ssentially, it was a calendar of my teaching schedule. And then I blog about food for Eat. I blogged about my workouts, fun things and apparel.
I used to do fashion/beauty segments for Fox for Good Day here in Dallas. I really brought my love of fragrance, lingerie, food and working out all in one.
A lot of times women, especially Black women, we can’t wash our hair every time we work out. And then women who aren’t Black, they don’t always have time to wash your hair right after, and this, it not only it doesn’t mask the stink, it takes away the stink completely while adding beautiful luxury fragrance to the hair.
[A]t the time, I was wearing a lot of extensions and braids because I was traveling internationally. Sometimes, you know, I don’t think women realize you wear extensions or wigs, sometimes your hair stinks and that was another thing. I’m like, ‘I need a product that addresses that,’ even though I’m not wearing wigs and extensions nowadays, there were years where that was just my go-to because I was traveling, teaching…I was still wanting to look presentable and I couldn’t get my hair done.
ESSENCE: What is the shelf life of the product?
APH: So the shelf life is 3 years. However, if you’re using it daily, it’s not going to last three years. [O]urs last a lot longer than other hair perfumes and regular perfumes because [we] put it in an aluminum bottle. And that shields it from the UV rays and then from some of the scent leaking out through the glass, which I don’t think people realize happens. So I was very intentional by taking this and because we’re Eat.Sweat.Undress, we’re lifestyle and fitness for the woman on the go, this is so quick to throw in your bag. You don’t have to worry about it breaking.
ESSENCE: That’s actually a really good point because if you’re trying to make a move quickly, you have to worry about, Oh, it fell out of my purse.
My last question is, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned? The first five years for business owners are the most informative, but there’s something about year one that you just feel like you get this crash course in business.
APH: I would say one of the biggest things I learned is to really pay attention to the numbers. As a business owner, you need to make sure you really put thought behind a cashflow spreadsheet, put all the numbers on there. [Y]ou know, your projected sales and in the beginning, it’s kind of hard…but you need to have projected sales. And what income will look like versus what’s going out month-to-month. That way you can see, Okay, this is what I’m projected to bring in for this one product. It’ll also help you see what products need to focus, [and what to] put more attention on.
Shop Eat.Sweat.Undress here.