Whether enhancing work, living or recreation spaces, Bambi Montgomery’s seemingly effortless approach and undeniable abilities have established her as one of Chicago’s most influential and sought after atmosphere curators.
Montgomery, a Chicago native, has a diverse resume that also boasts of working as a perfumer, product developer, salon/spa owner and interior designer.
Her businesses, Honey Child Chicago and HIVE Los Cabos Mexico, separately generate over a million dollars in service and retail sales, and have gained Montgomery national attention and acclaim for her superior level of detail and business savvy.
It is her commitment to excellence, love of details and rare synesthete abilities that keep her ever growing client list coming back again and again to give their projects a special touch.
A recognized olfactive expert, Bambi’s work has garnered press and been featured in numerous magazines, ad campaigns and television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, InStyle, Allure, Essence, Ebony, Time Out Chicago, and Chicago Social, among others.
N’DIGO recently sat down with Bambi to find out more about her keen sense of smell and her recently launched collection, HIVE Luxury Fragrances.
N’DIGO: Tell us about HIVE Luxury Fragrances and the inspiration behind it.
Bambi Montgomery: This is a beautiful fragrance line curated by me. The inspiration behind the brand is the ability to share my personal story through fragrance and to infuse a bit of luxury into every area of your life.
Who or what is The HIVE?
Among my most treasured collections are my friends, a group that I have affectionately nicknamed The HIVE. They inspire me to be my best self!
Can you explain a bit about your deep connection to your sense of smell?
I smell everything…even when I don’t want to. I’ve had this ability since I can remember. It’s called synesthesia. I’ve learned to embrace it and use it to develop my signature in fragrance.
Your recently unveiled line has six amazing distinct fragrances. Can you walk us through the process of creating a fragrance?
For this collection, The Treasured Collection, I wanted to honor the five people and one fur baby in my life that have had the most impact. My process is simple…at least for me anyway.
I remember the smell of my perfume combined with my father’s cologne as we hugged and I created that smell. I remember the smell of my puppy after a run in the grass mixed with my perfume and I created that.
My cousin is the person I trust with everything. That emotion, that feeling of trust, smells like something to me. Once that smell memory is clear, I identify notes that will duplicate what I’m smelling in my head.
I also hear music when I smell things, which provides a deeper connection to the fragrance I’m creating. I’m grateful to have worked with the incomparable Michael Drayton to create the music I heard in my head while curating these fragrances. It is truly a lovely and well-balanced collection!
You recently completed an extensive training course at the prestigious Pratt Institute. Tell us a little about that.
I am what some call a “niche perfumer” since I am not formally French trained. In my opinion, not being formally trained allows me to create in an organic way that has cultivated my signature. I don’t feel bound by the rules of perfumery. I’m free while creating.
The courses I took at Pratt assisted me with learning a bit of the formal language, along with identifying notes and learning how to isolate them to further enhance my signature. I found the classes to have fine-tuned my already keen sense of smell. It was an amazing experience, especially to get to work with a perfumer whom I’d admired for years!
How do you go about creating custom fragrances for your clients?
I sit with them and ask a series of questions…some of them are intimate. While listening, I start to image and actually smell what they desire based on what they share. Then I work to create that personal fragrance. In a few weeks, I invite my guests back in to try a few things I’ve created and shortly after, they have a unique fragrance created just for them.
What are some of the things you plan to do with The HIVE Foundation?
There are limited resources for high school graduates who don’t desire to go the traditional route of college. I desire to provide scholarships and resources for not only budding perfumers, but DJs, chefs, stylists, etc. My goals is to be an actual HIVE…a support system for creatives.
What are some of the unique challenges you’ve faced as an African-American woman establishing your brand in the fragrance marketplace?
As far as my brand, I have only experienced excitement and interest from not only my community, but from boutique owners and department stores, thus far. But as a businesswoman in general, I’ve experienced the lack of seriousness taken with my ventures and the lack of trust that I can do what I say I’m capable of doing. My track record now puts a bit of that to rest, though.
Who would play you in a movie on your life?
Everyone says I look like Janet Jackson, so maybe her for appearance. But I just love Tiffany Haddish; she’s as funny as I am!
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m crazy shy, but I can really sing. But I probably never would in front of anyone else.
Favorite quote or affirmation?
I have a couple: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Also, “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it!”
What’s next for Bambi Montgomery?
I’d love to carve out time for a love life! I’m ready for a situation. Also, I plan to grow the HIVE brand. I do have a little juicy project that I’m working on that I’m not allowed to discuss just yet.
(For more information on HIVE Luxury Fragrances, please visit www.hiveluxuryfragrances.com.)