What started as a small floral shop out of downtown Los Angeles has quickly grown an adorning following amongst floral lovers. OldVine Florals, founded by Itika Oldwine-Grimble, was built from the ground up, servicing special events, weddings, and intimate gifting amongst lovers, families, and friends. When word began to spread about the amazing arrangements coming out of the LA floral shop, Itika faced the challenge of shipping her blooms and vases. The reality with sending these arrangements was that they wouldn’t hold up in transit, and with this dilemma came the resolution OldVine Fragrance.
October 2021 marked the launch of the luxury fragrance collection that hoped to give OldVine fans outside of the Greater Los Angeles area the chance to experience the brand. The collection is introduced with two candles, Find your Zen and Bridal Bouquet, and a perfume, Meadow Bloom. The heart notes of these fragrances, in collaboration with luxury fragrance group, Firmenich, are unique to founder Itika’s childhood and Bay area roots. Essence had the chance to talk in-depth with the OldVine founder about her pivot from florals to fragrance, navigating the luxury space as a black woman, and what’s up next for the booming business.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you started OldVine Fragrance?
Yes, of course. So, my name is Itika Oldwine-Grimble. I am a luxury floral designer and I own a floral studio here in downtown Los Angeles. We have been in business since 20218 and managed to survive the pandemic. I’m the only African American woman with a brick-and-mortar floral studio in Los Angeles, that I know of—so, I’m very proud of that. After a couple of years as a floral shop owner, we decided to launch our signature fragrance collection.
We started in October with two candles and one EDP. The two candles are Bridal Bouquet and Find Your Zen. And the Eau de Parfum is called Meadow Bloom. Firmenich, the world’s leading fragrance manufacturer, reached out to us. They’re based out of France and have created luxury scents for well-known fragrance brands such as Tom Ford, Gucci, Lancome, and many more. They didn’t have many American brands under their umbrella, so they were looking to partner with a person of color.
How did you go about sourcing your scents for the launch? I feel like your launch sets a precedent for what you want your business to represent.
We knew OldVine fragrance would directly correlate with OldVine florals, so we wanted to go for more floral forward notes. Some of my favorite flowers are freesia, lily of the valley, and my grandmother loved orchids. I wanted to make sure that those scents were included. I also wanted to create a scent that represented my story. I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, and when I think about the bay, I think about the hills, the water, and the low fog. So I also wanted to incorporate water notes in the EDP. It’s a shared collaboration between my upbringing and the beautiful flowers we work with daily.
How did you pivot from florals to fragrance?
We currently only deliver bouquets in the greater Los Angeles area. Many customers from outside of the Greater Los Angeles area were asking if we delivered to places like DC, Boston, and New York, but we didn’t. So, my thought process was if we can’t open OldVine florals across the country, a great way to acknowledge customers outside of LA would be to sell candles and perfumes because they are easier to ship. It was a very natural next step for the business.
You started your business during COVID. What tribulations did you face during that time, and how were you able to overcome them?
COVID was something none of us expected. Being a small business, I had only been in business from 2018 to 2020, when they shut down everything. I had grown my events and weddings business. We were getting ready for wedding season, and then bam, nothing. We had to close the flower shop, the markets where we bought our flowers were closed, and everyone was canceling. We had no revenue. I had to look at how to get people to buy flowers from me, not just for events and things that require people to gather. I decided we would start promoting our gifting service. So let’s say if you couldn’t see mom because she lived across town, you could send her flowers from OldVine. So instead of creating centerpieces for engagement parties, we were creating centerpieces for someone’s table at home or a gift for mom. Pivoting at that time really got us through.
What do you plan to bring to the fragrance market, and how do you plan to differentiate yourself from competitors?
The fragrance market is huge. The luxury fragrance market is very small and gatekept. It’s not easy to access, and there aren’t many women or people of color in this space. I hope to allow for more representation for Black and Brown girls. I want them to see they, too, can be a luxury fragrance maker. It’s just getting that entry into this world. I’m proud to say that I was able to break into this industry and am filling the gap, but I’d love to bring quite a few people along with me.
As a black woman, how are you maneuvering through the floral and fragrance space?
You know, it’s been a little interesting. I worked for a designer by the name of Eric Buterbaugh. He was a highly respected and well-known florist here in LA. He worked in-house for the four seasons for nearly 20 years. So while working under him, I learned the business. And I was able to build a network of buyers and wholesalers. I learned where to get vases and what the point of sale should be. And when I decided to move on, he gave me his blessing.
However, with fragrance, it’s very different. Nobody I know is doing what I’m doing. So, I have been leaning on two or three people I have connected with in the space. Each offers a different business component that they help me with, but I’m really piecemealing everything together, which can be daunting at times. But we have a wonderful scent. It’s super high quality, and we worked tirelessly on it. The candle is long-lasting and fragrant. I believe that if we continue challenging ourselves, staying educated on the industry, and networking accordingly, we can make a real impression on the luxury fragrance market.
What’s next for OldVine?
I would love to open another OldVine floral flower shop in the Bay Area. I’m a homegrown Bay Area girl, and I’ve always wanted to go back and build a business there. I grew up in Richmond, California, a working-class community, so opening up a shop in my neighborhood that could bring more opportunities would mean a lot to me. In addition, we definitely want to create new skews for the online fragrance. We do have a few other scents and candles on the way. We just are rolling them out slowly. So expect more fragrances soon.
Shop the OldVine collection below.