The beauty industry has seen a recent expansion of campaigns and brands filled with diversity and inclusivity. As the global cosmetic industry continues to grow, a report released from Orbis Research valued the industry at USD 535.43 billion dollars in 2017 and projects it will continue to expand. As many corporations and indie brands join in the inclusivity trend, there is a need for authenticity from brands and their founders. Here enters The Nick Ricardo Collection and Founder Nick Yeast; someone with a mission for authenticity.
Nick Yeast is the founder of the Nick Ricardo Collection, a gender-neutral fragrance brand that focuses on the movement of being authentic and true to yourself in every way. Yeast shapes stories through fragrances to highlight diversity and inclusion through selected imagery inspired by the African American community and the conversation of breaking gender barriers.
Originally from Kentucky, Yeast grew up in a rural town with his mother and father. His parents set Yeast on the path of entrepreneurship through their own experience of starting a business. “My parents owned a restaurant for about 11 years”, explained by Yeast. “So, I learned a lot about business through my parents. And I think that kind of experience really [grew] the entrepreneurship bone in my body.”
“I was always looking for the next thing. I always know who I am as an individual: a gay black male.” — Nick Yeast
Being black and queer in the South, Yeast knew he was different. His identity and background inspired him to create his brand, the Nick Ricardo Collection.
“Growing up and not able to be very comfortable in my own skin [catalyzed my creativity]. Not being able to share who I am and be around people who are like me [was pivotal],” shared Yeast. “Now when I create, it’s like I’m making up for my childhood.”
During a trip to South Korea, Yeast decided to use skills learned from an Airbnb Experiences Program fragrance class and create his first fragrance.
“I actually became a flight attendant [and] seven months after I got the job, I took my first solo trip to South Korea”, revealed by Yeast. “While I was there, I was just so inspired and I was in such awe [and it inspired me to create].” After coming back to the US and getting amazing compliments on his fragrance, he decided to start a fragrance collection.
To Yeast, the Nick Ricardo Collection is more than just a fragrance – it’s a movement. The Nick Ricardo Collection’s mission is to focus on building connections and family in the LGBTQI+ community. From that mission, Yeast decided to make his brand to be gender-neutral and not be based in the sexes.
“I don’t like saying ‘unisex’ because sex is still set by an area that is just men and women,” said Yeast. To Yeast and the LGBTQI+ community, there are many genders like transgender, intersex, bisexual, asexual and more.
Also, it was important to Yeast to integrate African-American imagery in his branding. “I really want the representation of the African-American community within all the imagery that I do because you really don’t see a lot of us being represented when it comes to fragrance,” divulged Yeast.
The Nick Ricardo Collection has four fragrances: Onyx, Mention, Turbulent and Desire. All of these fragrances include the top note smell of Bergamont. The calming essential oil ties to Yeast’s mission of healthy encouragement and conversation of mental health in the African American community. To him, it’s very important that black and queer-owned brands make the effort to start these conversions and to make disruptive noise about representation in all the queer brands.
In light of Pride Month, many corporations use the month to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community. However, many do not highlight them in their year around campaigns. Yeast is challenging that lense and starting the conversation on his own terms.
Backed by the Phluid Project, one of the LGBTQI community’s top brands, The Nick Ricardo Collection has been able to expand the company’s reach. As the world’s first gender-free store, it aligned perfectly with Yeast and the brand’s identity. Becoming a part of the Phluid Project family, Yeast had the opportunity to redecorate the store for his own week-long pop-up store.
As another perk, Yeast had the amazing opportunity to meet the LGBTQI community member, activist, and actor, Billy Porter. Porter met Nick at the Phluid Project, and he supported his brands by purchasing three fragrances: Onyx, Mention, and Desire. “I have been a huge fan [of Billy Porter] ever since Kinky Boots and especially now on Pose. Watching his success has been so inspirational because he’s been in the game for a long time,” stated Yeast.
”That it just goes to show that no matter how old you are, how long you’ve been in the game that your big break is coming soon.” — Nick Yeast, on the inspiration of Billy Porter.
As a creative entrepreneur, Yeast enjoys the new experiences that come with it. He uses his position as a flight attendant to travel the world and expose himself to other cultures. Inspiration comes from anywhere for him. During his last trip to Bali, Yeast was inspired to start a candle line.
Being an entrepreneur, there are ups and downs. Yeast is honest about his failures and he takes these lessons to the next opportunity he has. For his advice, he recommends taking time for yourself, your family and your community is important. He wants you to being true to yourself and using those moments to breathe.
“I know that the future is bright because I am positive and driven, so whatever happens – happens. I know that the universe has me. Because I got y’all, you got me.“ — Nick Yeast