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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 26, 2014 4 years ago

Scent of success

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MyxnScents lets customers pick from 450 scents and mix them into bath and body products. The first store in Naples is the prototype for dozens more.
by: Jean Gruss Contributing Writer

When Tracy Sherles was president of Chicago-based timeshare operator Shell Vacations, she oversaw as many as 26 properties with more than 2,900 units on a $380 million budget.

After the Wyndham hotel chain acquired Shell Vacations in 2012, Sherles moved in June 2013 to Naples, where she opened a shop called MyxnScents at the Bayfront development. The idea for the store grew from years of traveling to different cities for Shell and visiting cosmetics stores along the way.

The Naples store has been open only since April 5, but it's going to be the prototype for what she expects will be many more around the country. “I can't imagine we won't have several dozen with the next one to three years,” Sherles says.

MyxnScents is a do-it-yourself beauty products store. After you pick from among 450 scents, specialists at the mixing bar will incorporate it in products ranging from shampoo to scrubs, lotions and sprays.

Sherles says it's too early to gauge the financial success of the store, but she says 82% of customers who visit buy something, and they spend an average of $52 each time they come inside. Men account for nearly a quarter of the business. “My big worry was, is this a fad like the pet rock?” she says.

The wood paneling in the store gives it the feel of an apothecary, but Sherles created some modern touches. For example, she designed a special patent-pending table that has a rotating top like a lazy Susan. Customers can spin the tabletop to smell any of the 353 scents from little vials.

The 1,500-square-foot store can hold 25 to 30 people for parties, so it's important to have scents on tables scattered around the store. “We're getting a mobile table that holds 115 vials,” Sherles says.

Before she seeks financing to grow the chain, Sherles says she's exploring ways to boost sales outside the store. For example, she plans to grow the wholesale business by providing custom-created products such as soaps and scrubs for spas and resorts. Already, The Spa at Naples Bay Resort is a customer.

In addition, Sherles says she plans a mobile division by taking kiosks of scents to malls or special events. Together, the mobile and wholesale divisions could generate as much as one-third of a store's total sales. “I want to open with all those feeders,” Sherles says.

There are other challenges to attend to as well. For example, the MyxnScents website needs improvement so that people can reorder more easily online and Sherles needs to find a good point-of-sale software system.

Because Sherles plans a robust website where people can reorder products, it's not likely MyxnScents will sell franchises. That's because the website would compete with physical stores.

When the concept is ready for expansion, Sherles says she plans to raise capital through a network of private-equity firms she developed over her career in the hospitality industry. She estimates she'll need $2 million to $5 million over the next three years.

Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss

This article has been updated to correct the name of The Spa at the Naples Bay Resort.

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