The Grammy award-winning singer is launching her first fragrance with Carol's Daughter, a full-range beauty line that uses natural ingredients and was first famously invested in by stars Jay-Z, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Thalia and Tommy Mottola.
The My Life fragrance is named in honor of Blige's 1994 album of the same title, which the songstress credits as her life's biggest turning point.
"I was crying out for help, because I was going through so much," Blige tells WWD of the time when she made the album.
"Four million women said, 'Mary, we're going through it too, but you're helping us by calling on us.' From that day on, I began speaking truths about my life, and about their lives. So it's a special tribute to us as women. My fans and I are smart now. We know we're smart now, but we didn't know it then. We know we're beautiful now, we didn't know it then. We're educated now, we didn't know it then. We're soft, we're edgy -- we're all those things. And I wanted this perfume to represent every female's everyday life," adds Blige.
My Life's top notes are gardenia, Bartlett pear and white freesia, with a heart of tuberose, blooming jasmine, gold lily and apricot flower. The drydown blends cashmere woods, praline, sesame and incense. Sold with a clutch purse, the scent will retail for $46 for a 1.7 oz spray.
The singer is an investor in Carol's Daughter, which isn't typical in the world of celebrity fragrances -- and the planned launch will be equally unique. Blige will bring the scent exclusively to HSN on July 31st, with six shows featuring the songstress herself presenting the featured product pick of the day. HSN will also show documentary scenes on Blige's life on the 31st, which the popular home shopping channel is currently filming.
While fragrance creation was entirely new to Blige, she had a very familiar friend who she turned to for advice during the development. Pamela Baxter, President and CEO of LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics North America is married to an uncle of Blige's husband, and is warmly referred to as 'Aunt Pam' in the Blige household.
Once Blige had experimented with incense, musk, wood and floral, she had her first working version of the fragrance.
"Aunt Pam came to our house for Christmas during that time, and I said, 'Pam, I love it, but something's causing me to hate it.' What is that smell - there's too much of it. And Pam said it was wood. I got on the phone right away and said 'take the wood out!'" Blige told WWD.
Known for her involvement from top to bottom on all personal projects, this fragrance was no different for Blige. The scent went through six different formulations before the budding entrepreneur was happy with the final results.
Yet in spite of Blige's success as a performer, businesswoman and designer, the singer says she had to first overcome a destitute upbringing, depression and drug addiction to get where she is today.
"I was a victim of abuse, my mom was a victim of abuse. Every woman in my neighborhood [in Yonkers, NY] when I was growing up was a victim of abuse. All my life as a child I saw women screaming at the top of their lungs for their lives, women running out of the their houses naked trying to get away from their husbands. I've seen the worst of the worst that a woman can go through, and I actually grew up and went through it myself. I almost didn't want to give myself a second chance. I was going to give up," Blige tells WWD of her former suicide thoughts.
"I realized that wow, if I destroy myself, I destroy all these women that look up to me and say, 'Mary, you saved my life.' I can't kill my fans and their kids. I prayed and asked God to help me and he sent me all the help I need. He sent me my husband," adds Blige of Kendu Isaacs, who is both her manager and husband.
"I know who I am, and I love myself now," says Blige.
Blige has since founded the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN), and $1 from the sale of every bottle of My Life will benefit the organization, which provides resources and programs for women attain their personal goals and become self-sufficient.
Blige also partnered with the Westchester Jewish Community Services to open the Mary J. Blige Center for Women in Yonkers this past Fall, where GED classes, job search training and child care is provided so that women can complete their education and get a firm start in the career world.
"I want women to have confidence. I learned that confidence could save a life," says Blige of her philanthropic pursuits.
New fragrances and charity initiatives aren't the only things on the singer's crowded plate; Blige will star in a 2012 film on the late jazz singer and civil rights advocate Nina Simone, in which she'll play the main role. And Blige will also try her hand at accessories design this Fall, with a planned launch of a sunglass line called Melodies by Mary J. Blige.
Known for her love for big sunglasses, hoop earrings and scarves, we're sure Blige will be a natural at it - just like she is with all of her other successes.