What is your name and role?

Chris Chambers – CEO / Co-Founder of 86 West

Mike Garrett – CCO / Co-Founder of 86 West

Where are you from?

Chris: I was born in Syracuse NY, moved around a lot, then started traveling for work taking me across the US and to Asia.

Mike: I’m an Omaha, Nebraska native. Born and raised, and proud of where I’m from, but would never recommend it. 

Backstory of your personal interest in fragrance?

Chris: I have always been interested in fragrances. I was & am the guy with endless bottles of fragrances, somewhat like a collector. I remember being young and always wanting to smell differently each day of the week and for specific events. 

Mike: My interest in fragrances was inherited from my mother, Carmelita. The idea of presenting well was instilled in me from garments to your scent experience. Fragrances allow my presence to be felt, much like I prefer my creative nature to be viewed: impactful without knowing.

What is the most interesting aspect or challenge about creating one’s own fragrance?

Chris: One of the most difficult and most interesting aspects of the fragrance creating process was deciding on what scents we thought would work best with each other and on top of that, what levels of each would create something we would love to share with the world.

Mike: Creating a gender fluid product that deviates away from the stereotypical perception of masculine and feminine attributes in fragrance is challenging. Differentiating how the combination of various notes blend to appease the interest of all has been tons of hours in market research. 

Why 86 West? What sets it apart?

86 West is interesting and even the origin of the name is somewhat debatable. We wanted to of course stand out and choose something that was memorable and says a little of who we are and where we are “from.” Both my business partner (Mike) and I met in Nebraska, which is part of the Midwest. The term Midwest, depending on your sources, was coined in roughly 1886. So we took the latter part of each and came up with 86 West.

What set us apart from the rest of the industry could be the fact that we are a black male-owned organization that believes strongly in inclusion. Launching with unisex fragrances we want to try and either reeducate or change the indoctrinated mindset that fragrances have assigned genders that should or shouldn’t be worn. 

Why do you do what you do? What’s your biggest motivation?

Chris: Ideally the creation of the fragrances would be a foot into a fashion door that could lead into other products or partnerships in the future, sharing with others, things that I enjoy, and others may as well. The biggest motivation or driving factor for me is to escape or gain freedom from the alarm clock. Breaking away from the cycle most humans are in, which requires us to wake up and help someone else build their dream. I have too many dreams that deserve to be fulfilled to spend all my time and energy working on someone else’s who may be so far separated from what I do to actually appreciate my work.

Mike: As a creative in marketing, design, and visually the goal is to always understand the how, why, and then fundamentally break it! Relevancy lies within being unconventional. The goal is to set ourselves apart from competitors and we’re on the quest to do so.

What are some things we might not know about you?

Chris: Outside of the obvious obsession with fragrances and fashion, things that I am interested in are traveling the world and enjoying all of the different types of food available. One of my favorite places that had a wide array of foods was China. I especially loved visiting all of the street vendors and dining on the different types of food on a stick and spicy prawns *insert drool emoji*.

Mike: My versatility in the creative space usually leaves everyone in awe. In creative there’s a misconception on what is seen and why it’s constructed the way it is or the strategy behind the decisions made to form consumer decisions. These measures have been applied in Art Direction/Marketing/Strategy/Graphic Design/Social Media/Web Design/Animation/Photography and more across two Seattle music festivals, a leading beverage company, farming, hospitality, product, and personal. Challenges are my hobby!


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