Nick Yeast is the proud founder of the Nick Ricardo Collection, a non-binary fragrance brand breaking social barriers in the beauty and cosmetic industry with a mission to slash gender norms and elevate voices of Black, non binary, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals. We have had the amazing opportunity to ask a few questions and get an insight into this trailblazing perfumers heart.
When did you fall down the rabbit hole of perfumery?
I didn’t really start gaining a true interest in fragrances until I went to South Korea in 2017. I attended a class in this beautiful village where they taught me everything about the art of fragrances. I fell in love to say the least and after creating my first fragrance and wearing it around in public and at work, people would compliment me which naturally makes any individual feel good. I was reminded as a child wearing one my favorite colognes by Sean John called unforgivable. That's when I knew I really like fragrances but never dreamed of creating my own. Once I decided to make that decision of creating my own fragrance brand it was important for me to start a movement rather than just a fragrance so the inspiration turned into what is now the Nick Ricardo Collection.
What are you most proud of in your fragrance career?
Since starting my brand it has been nothing but great opportunities and love from the community. One of the biggest highlights in my journey so far is being featured in Rachel's Ray's holiday gift guide and having the actor and activist, Billy Porter personally smelling my fragrances in my collection and purchasing 3 of them at a pop-up I did in New York City.
What are you working on now or in the future?
I am working on a lot actually! I am extremely excited for the future of Nick Ricardo Collection. It's more than just designing fragrances for me. My brand is bigger than me and I'm positive that the future for NRC is going to be flourishing and a shining light to all.
Your brand is much more than fragrance. You’re a true activist and community builder. Your mission is to uplift the narrative of Black, non-binary, transgender and gender non-conforming individual. Many people would shy away from that boldness, but it’s really the DNA of your brand. Did you know that is what you wanted to do when you formed your company? Or was it an evolution?
When starting my brand, I knew exactly what I wanted to create. I wanted to create more than a fragrance brand but a brand that went against societal norms and unapologetically provided the message for all to be themselves. Fragrance has no gender identity and it always bothered me that there are gendered labels on the majority of the brands out there. Activism was always in me but didn't rise until my college years when waking up and realizing that we are all connected as individuals and the judgements that are inflicted on others are manmade and don't hold true to who we are as humans. I truly believe that when we spread kindness, awareness, and speak love, the world can turn out to be so much more kinder and an easier place to live for all of us. Just because one might be different for what we say is “normal” doesn't mean that their feelings or their existence doesn't matter. I just want to be able to be a brand where people feel safe and find comfort in knowing that from the conception of this, it was led with a pure heart and great intentions to change the narrative on how we view ourselves and others in this world.
Your fragrances break the traditional construct of male/female fragrances. You’ve managed to create a collection of scents that speak to the energy of fluidity. Each of the fragrances have a unique element of grace and strength. Would you say this is kind of your secret sauce?
Each fragrance tells a unique story that is curated just for you and how you feel. When designing my fragrances I first wanted the story to be told followed by the notes that compliments the story.
Your blog is fantastic. I love how you use your platform to share and educate. So many people don’t have a broad or in depth knowledge of of black culture and especially black queer culture. I love that you’ve written about sheroes like Rupaul, Barbara Jordan, and Janelle Monàe. You’re brave to be so open about what most people are afraid of and yet you manage to make it feel so inclusive. Do you find that if people were truly more authentic that our lives would be different?
Our society has shaped who and why we are as people. If we freed ourselves from not judging others, and stopped causing destructive harm to others just because they don't fit what seems normal to you or it doesn't seem right to you, I believe that the world would be completely different. People wouldn’t have to hide who they are and will then be able to live in constant peace and acceptance. When people are educated on black culture and especially black queer culture, it opens up a new sense of awareness in understanding that yes, we are all different, but we are all connected and all desire the same thing in life which is to be loved and accepted by all of us. Conversations such as these need to be normalized more so that change can truly happen.
What’s an example in your own life that by being more authentic has your life become better?
When I was able to release all blockages I had that were holding me back from speaking the truth, being myself, loving myself , and just being at peace with who I am as a person, I was blessed with a new perspective that literally changed my life. I don’t want to be anyone else but myself when I interact with my family, strangers, friends, anyone in that matter because the energy you put out is the energy you shall receive. I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and I am here to live my truth. The most liberating feeling in the world is to be able to go to bed at night, settle in and reflect on the day and know I lived my best life today, I was honest and true to myself, and everything that I did and how I showed up today was guided with pure intentions and an open heart.
What words of advice do you have for anyone who wants to live more as themselves?
Tell the truth. Not only to others but to yourself. You are sometimes the only person holding yourself back from living your true authentic self. Tell the truth to yourself and start living for you and see what happens :)
Do your fragrances give people courage to be more authentic?
Each fragrance tells a story. All fragrances are based on your own personal liking. I pray that my brand is able to give people the courage to be whoever they want to be and that's why representation matters. I never dreamed that this gay black boy from Harrodsbug, Kentucky would have taken such a leap out on faith and starting something that means alot to so many people.
You recently received a lot of international press for your brand. Do you think it’s important to amplify black brands now more than ever? What can the industry do more to support brands like yours?
Be intentional. Be intentional by showcasing more black creatives and shine a light on the work they do. Access sometimes doesn't come easy for a lot of black owned brands and when showcasing and highlighting more of us, our stories and voices are able to heard and we can begin seeing more representation in spaces where you normally don’t see us.
Do you think the world is ready for brands like yours? Or do you think that people are waiting and thirsting for it?
The world has been waiting for more brands like mine and I know I’m not the only one out here who is pushing to normalize such brand identities. The old constructs of how we view things are indeed becoming more obsolete on a daily basis. We are in a new era and it's time to embrace the new way of living and being because the world is changing. I truly believe that Gen Z is changing the narrative for our future when it comes to breaking down gender norms and traditional societal norms. It's time to embody the new. I'm excited for the new era and I hope more brands and the people are attracted to this shift that is happening because it's certainly not going back and it's here to stay.