A Will and a Way
Tiny fragrance firm takes on the multinationals.
By Marshall Pearson
Despite the stagnant economy, independent entrepreneur William Neely is making a bold move into men's grooming. After years of development, he recently debuted a line of men’s personal care products that he insists can run with the big dogs of the industry.
“This doesn’t have anything to do with money. I have just always wanted my own fragrance line…and [it is] something that I have always wanted to pursue,” he said.
By launching his own line, called Will, Mr. Neely is fulfilling a life-long desire. While building a career in real estate and finance, he was inspired by companies such as Armani, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
“I have always liked fragrance because it is always mysterious and has a romantic essence to it. I have always had it in the back of my mind to create my own line. It was time to do it,” said Mr. Neely.
William Neely Cosmetics, based in Burbank, CA, uses top-quality components for each aspect of its fragrance, which was developed by Flavors & Fragrances Group. The scent contains notes of mandarin, herbal, jasmine, lily, sandalwood, amber, moss, musk, lavender and rose are combined to form a fragrance with both citrusy and woody undertones.
The packaging also features superior quality components. The bottles used in the eau de toilette are made out of cut crystal and were designed by ABA Packaging, the overcaps by Rexam Dispensing, the pumps and sprayers by Emsar and the collars by RoMatic Manufacturing. In addition to the eau de Toilette, which retails at $47 for a 3.4 oz. bottle, the product line includes a body moisturizer ($22 for 6.7 oz.), an after shave splash ($34 for 3.4 oz.) and an aftershave balm ($34 for 3.4 oz.).
Mr. Neely’s love for fragrance may have prompted him to start his own company, but the size of William Neely Cosmetics provides it certain advantages over larger competitors, according to the entrepreneur.
“The advantage of us as a smaller company, especially in this type of economy, is that we don’t owe anybody a penny and we can turn on a dime,” he said. “We are going to stay around...they (competitors) have overhead and a lot to maintain.”
Following the debut of the Will line, the company began promoting its products through celebrity events and charity fundraisers. William Neely Cosmetics was a gift sponsor at the MTV Movie Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards and the ALMA Awards. The company also donated products to the Roy Disney Cancer Society and has participated in other miscellaneous charity events. In addition to these marketing outlets, Will was promoted at the 2008 Grand National Roadster show. Participation in these events is an effective way to market his product and reach new consumers, according to Mr. Neely.
“Being a small company, it gives you exposure where you don’t have any. We don’t have large ads in Glamour or GQ, but there are many avenues to get exposure for your company…we will do certain events that other people in this industry don’t do,” he said.
While Mr. Neely admires the scents put out by larger companies, he insists that his products are comparable to any high-quality fragrance on the market. William Neely Cosmetics conducted a blind test between the top two highest-grossing men’s fragrances and finished first in nearly each test. Because of high quality components, attractive packaging and comparable scents, Mr. Neely maintains that he is ready to contend with the giants of the cosmetics industry.
“When you look at the stuff out there, you have to be ready to compete. This line is made to compete at the highest level,” he said.
For now, the company’s focus will remain on promotion of its products and shopping them to potential clientele. Mr. Neely believes in his work and is hoping that it will be recognized with strong sales.
“We are new to the market but we need to find retailers that are willing to work with us. They won’t be disappointed,” he said.
Other than the marketing of existing products, the company’s plans for the future include a body wash and hair gel in the Will line, as well as a line of women’s fragrance and related products.
The William Neely Cosmetics' line includes moisturizer, aftershave splash and aftershave balm.