Hey, Posse! No, Brown Girl Jane isn’t my (yet another name) for my late, beloved Girl. First off, she was blonde, not brown and second… no. What Brown Girl Jane is? Welp! It’s a new (or new to me) line of perfumes (and wellness products) that I stumbled upon while scrolling through Surrender to Chance‘s site. I’m always looking to support POC businesses, especially WOC, so JUMPED AWN IT! ordering samples of all 3 WANDERLUST series perfumes, each inspired by holiday destinations beloved by the BGJ founders.
Let’s stroll, shall we?
Lamu (Joy). Interestingly, of the three Lamu is the only one I’ve visited (and both visits were quick due to cholera outbreaks – it’s not far from Mombasa (on the Indian Ocean coast) and they were always having cholera outbreaks back when I was traveling to Kenya. Sigh. Anyhoo…It’s a charming island in the Kenya Archipelago, with heavily Moorish-influenced architecture and an otherworldly feel. Like Mackinac Island in the US, it is car-free, with foot travel and donkeys being the transportation of choice. It’s vaguely… salty? smelling (the place) and I totally understand how the perfumers came up with this scent – this is not a ‘suntan oil’ scent – it’s more coastal than beachy, (like that ambergris/Brittany Coast one I like for Autumn – Ambre Grisea) with a salty, floral (tiare-adjacent) vibe. I wasn’t at Lamu long enough to form a real opinion but I have spent time at Lake Nakuru (of the famous flamingos that line the shore) and Lamu brings back that smell – slightly vegetal, salty-warm (it is the Indian Ocean, after all), tropical florals.. with a hint of …dare I say ‘fishiness’ (but in a VERY good way) to it. It really does bring back fond memories and is very joyful. I’d described it as joyful before I went on the BGJ website and saw they’d given it that description as well. They are right. It’s sunny and joyful. I love it.
Bahia. (Peace) Meaning ‘bay’, Bahia is the name of a lot of bay-adjacent locales, the best known being State of Bahia in Brazil. Dunno about you but when I think of Brazil – anywhere in Brazil – I think suntan lotion. Blame it on Rio. But.. I mean, c’mon. SUNTAN LOTION! Glistening, near-perfect brown bodies. The sway, the sway. And guess what? They banged that right the hell OUT! in Bahia. For me, this is the one that is easiest to both wear and to parse. It’s Brazil in a bottle. Sexy. Relaxing. Nothing groundbreaking but, to be fair (h/t March) there’s a limit to what you can do with Suntan Lotion anymore. If you change it too much it stops being Suntan Lotion. And that would make me sad. I love that vibe so much that I am always up for another entry into the genre. This one is excellently done, with not one hint of greasiness – just the afterglow.
Casablanca (Love) – according to Fragrantica this was launched in 2022! So. Brand New!
The closest I’ve come to Casablanca is a late-night stopover in Marrakech but I’m getting a bit of that Atlantic Coast of Africa vibe from this perfume. It’s absolutely gorgeous – a bit more complex than the other two and more grounded on land, with a teeny hint of the gourmand about it, which I am assuming is the vanilla orchid and the cardamom. This is going to sound weird but what I love most about Africa (at least the places in which I’ve spent time) is its steadfast disinclination to view the USA as the epicenter of the Universe. No slam against my home country but when I am traveling outside the US for pleasure I like to see places that are not USA-centric. Africa and the Middle East fascinate me because their histories are so feckin’ OLD – and they have an inward focus that is intriguing – but their outward focus is not on us/US (heh. see what I did there? okay. I’m done). Anyhoo this isn’t some janked-up version of ‘let’s go to the spice market’ – rather, this recalls the walled pleasure gardens so beloved of the Arabic world. But, at least to my nose, it’s not an Arabic fragrance, rather it evokes the experience of a woman of color visiting an Arabic garden, secure in the knowledge that her beauty is commonplace within those walls. She is appreciated, she is lauded, she is safe. It reminds me of my own pleasure garden (though I do wish the walls were 12′ instead of my measly 6′). It is an almost indescribably feeling of peacefulness and belonging. Heady stuff.
So! Here’s the thing: when I ordered my samples from Surrender to Chance I must’ve lost mah MIND because I bought two each of the 3 samples! So. I have 3 brand-new samples to give away! What’s your favorite holiday destination? Tell me a story about it and I’ll have M. Jacques (yes. HE”S STILL HERE) punch the living daylights out of randomDOT and pick a winner.