Like most of us, the 2020 lockdown forced Chris and Fay Breedlove to reevaluate their relationship with travel. It had been a central part of their lives together since they met as law students at Howard University, leading them to over 44 cities in 15 countries over the course of their courtship and marriage. As they dreamt of revisiting some of their favorite destinations, Fay came up with the idea of creating a scent that captured some of the cities they had fallen in love with.
“Fay’s initial thought for starting this whole business was that she wanted to get the scent of Singapore Changi International Airport, which is funny because that airport is a destination itself, and definitely analogous to Singapore as a whole,” Chris says.
And thus, Terminal B, a luxury fragrance brand built around their love of travel, was born. The company itself is named after the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, with the letter B representing both the terminal and their last initial. Each of the brand’s scents is named after the airport code of a city in which they have built fond memories.
“Singapore is known for its botanical gardens that are just scattered throughout the city,” Fay explains. “There are high-end shops that diffuse beautiful scents throughout the properties and that sometimes seep out onto the street. In terms of blending, botanical gardens and white tea is what we created, and we called it SIN, which is the airport code for Singapore. So that just became kind of the snowball effect for other scents in our collection.”
Before launching Terminal B, Fay and Chris had already worked together building a diversity search firm that places attorneys of color with law firms across the country. But naturally, with their newest venture in retail, there was a learning curve. While their past experience helped them land some great B2B partnerships, starting with the conversion of the Miraval Berkshires Resort and Spa as both a client and retail location, they were still searching for tools to help them advance their business.
As the company continued to grow, Fay and Chris began looking for resources that support small businesses like theirs. Enter American Express, which, over the years, has created several platforms to help educate, empower, promote, and provide resources for small businesses.
“In doing my research, I found out about Amex’s relationship with the U.S. Black Chamber’s ByBlack platform, directory and national Black business certification; and I was blown away because I had never seen anything like this before, especially from a company as big as American Express,” Fay Breedlove says. “Then we found their other tools and resources, including the Business Class free business education initiative, networking opportunities, growth opportunities, and accelerator programs for small businesses. I scoured the web and didn’t find anything as comprehensive as their opportunities and resources. And the fact that American Express provides small businesses and diverse businesses like ours with these resources for free is super important, because, you know, things get costly quickly.”
American Express’ support of Black-owned businesses is bolstered by the company’s own commitment to drive $750 million of business to minority and Black-owned suppliers by 2024 (doubling their previous spend), including increasing spend with Black-owned suppliers to at least $100 million annually. “Terminal B is thrilled to be ByBlack-certified. We have already seen the direct benefits of having the certification. We believe that the ByBlack certification is not only a great way to gain access to resources that will bolster our sales and inspire consumer confidence, but also a chance for us to grow as a business,” Fay Breedlove said.
While many of these programs like Business Class videos and newsletters live online, for Terminal B, the in-person resources have been invaluable. “Business Class LIVE was something that was brought to my attention through an American Express newsletter,” Fay says. “I saw that this in-person event was happening in New York City at the Javits Center, and there were just so many different opportunities from networking to business matchmaking, which was something that I was incredibly excited about. So we literally dropped everything and flew from LAX to JFK to attend.”
What greeted them when they arrived was what both Chris and Fay agree was one of the most well-executed activations they’ve ever attended. It allowed them to connect with experts from companies like Meta and Amazon, while learning from and creating new relationships with Black founders like themselves. They had a similar experience at the 2022 AfroTech Conference, which they had already planned on attending through the Blavity.org Fellowship. The event, held in Austin, provided Terminal B the exciting opportunity to be a featured business in the on-site Small Business Marketplace, powered by American Express.
“Being able to sell our products was great,” Chris recalls, “but I think the best piece for us was being able to announce our availability on Amazon and having future customers interact with our products in person, which has driven them to the store and created a great review opportunity for us.”
For this reason, one of the top pieces of advice Chris and Fay Breedlove offer new businesses is to make an effort to attend as many in-person events as possible. “Business Class LIVE and AfroTech really gave us the opportunity to be present in places where there’s a number of folks walking around the grounds and interacting with our brand and seeing us at multiple activations,” Fay says. “And that’s how you also generate awareness in person and build the strong support of a network of target consumers, to build that sense of community.”
This piece was paid for by American Express