Sep. 22, 2020

by Liz Leyden

Leah Bradley’s fascination with fragrance started the moment she discovered body splash at Bath and Body Works when she was 11.

“I would just douse myself,” she laughs. “My dad says I used to smoke him out of his room with the smell of Sun-Ripened Raspberry.”

Eventually, Bradley graduated to Gap Scents—“Heaven’ was a favorite”—and began collecting perfumes layered with rose notes that conjured her grandmother’s garden.

“For me, fragrance is about memories,” she says.

So, when the Swedish floor-care company Bona decided to create scents for its cleaning products, Bradley, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing ’08, couldn’t believe her luck.

She had been Bona’s brand manager for retail for just eight months when the first batch of fragrance samples arrived. But after peppering colleagues with questions about which fragrance house was mixing the formulas and showing them how to use scent strips—which she’d learned at FIT—Bradley was put in charge of marketing the new products and invited to help create the scents themselves.

One of my dreams was always to design my own perfume,” she says. “That didn’t come to fruition, and that’s OK. But we joke in the office that I got to actually work on the dream with these scented floor cleaners.

Based on Bona’s consumer research, Bradley identified the perfect scents. Forget florals: fresh and citrusy smells topped the wish lists for floors. After the fragrances were chosen, Bradley spent months dreaming up dozens of possible names, from Fresh Meadow to Nordic Breeze, but they weren’t quite right.

“We remember it as ‘the time Leah couldn’t land on a name,’” Bradley says. “But passion plays a big part in marketing. It means you’re not fine with just any old name.”

Once she realized that the essential oils used in the formulas best signaled Bona’s sustainability message, she found the answer: Lemon Mint and Cedar Wood.

Bradley joined Bona after a decade in the beauty industry, most recently in the public relations and brand communications departments at L’Oréal Paris. She loves the challenge of being brand manager, from overseeing national advertising campaigns to conducting comprehensive market research on consumer habits. That the job circled back to her childhood obsession was a bonus.

“And, it’s so funny, because I still wear Bath and Body Works to this day.”