When you grow up in Detroit, it’s hard to escape the influence of cars. So no surprise when four friends got together to brainstorm business ideas and cars were the inspiration.
Donovan Brown and Garrett Mitchell went to high school together and were part of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), where they learned about marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Ever since, they had “dabbled” in one business or another, still seeking the one that would ignite their passions and engage consumers. This day, they and two friends, Trey Brown and Dean Parker, also from the Motor City, sat around an apartment in Los Angeles batting ideas back and forth when they hit on a winner: Ride FRSH, the first Black-owned car air freshener company in the US.
Car air fresheners were boring. Mostly, there was that pine tree on drab cardboard hanging from a rear-view mirror like a forlorn Christmas ornament. Car air fresheners came out around 1952. All that time, one company dominated the market. They didn’t have to “try harder” since they were number one, so little, if any, thought was given to updating or improving the freshener. Therefore, they grew trite and eventually tacky.
The Ride FRSH team made the car air freshener cool! They are fashionably designed with a gold string for a touch of dazzle. They are also twice as thick as the old-fashioned fresheners and last almost twice as long. Each one has a fun lyric from a hip hop song about cars on the back, such as Drive Slow Homie and Sittin’ Sideways.
Ride FRSH Scents
- Ocean Breeze: Crisp, clean, smooth with salty ozone notes and the aroma of citrus.
- Vanilla: Soft, warm, comforting, both exotic and simple.
- Pina Colada: A bouquet of pineapple, coconut and orange with an unmistakable tropical vibe.
- Cherry: Both sweet and tart, this scent is combines an earthy spiciness with sparkling red fruits.
- Peach: The aroma of freshly picked peaches with hints of coconut, violet petals and orange.
- Jasmine: Rich, sweet, fruity with an edge of sensual musk.
- Lavender: The ultimate calming scent, delicate and powdery while floral, herbal, and evergreen woodsy at the same time.
- Eucalyptus: Both energizing and calming with its signature minty/woodsy aroma.
- Woodgrain: Hearty and spicy with notes of sandalwood, cedar and clove.
- Leather: Classic, timeless, luxurious with incense-like earthy saffron and a base of warm amber.
Ride FRSH partnered with Nickelodeon and the NBA to bring you SpongeBob Squarepants and his buddies, Patrick Star and Squidward. Or cheer on your favorite basketball team—so far Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and, of course, the Detroit Pistons.
Then the Ride FRSH team went one step further to stand out and disrupt the market. They offer a subscription service, the first of its kind in car air fresheners and a way to build a Ride FRSH community. Subscriptions are two fresheners per month, either random or in pairs, and a customized box with consumers choosing the scents. They now have 10,000 regular subscribers.
Ride FRSH success is definitely exciting and the team is very appreciative of it, but they also want to become role models for people of color and provide opportunities and encouragement for them to explore entrepreneurship as a career option.