Sharon Farsijani is a former reporter and anchor, turned author, poet and perfume entrepreneur. She was born in Tehran and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her family returned to Tehran when she was a teenager exposing her to the Middle Eastern culture. As a westernized female teenager she explored Iran’s way of life, school system and culture. After difficult situations in Iran she ultimately returned to the US.
She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has finally returned to her hometown of New York City. After publishing her collection of sensual poetry, she decided to share her story as a young woman during some of the most heated years in Iran’s modern history through the lens of a completely Brooklynized teenager.
This perfume entrepreneur also launched her own company, Desert35 Fragrances, designing custom fragrances from scratch for newlyweds, bridal parties, bar mitzvahs, and all other special occasions. A company she found to help herself and others express themselves through the world of scent.
She is an advocate of understanding cultural differences and providing opportunities to teenagers, especially female teenagers, and individuals to realize their full potential through education and awareness.
Sharon graduated with two BA degrees from Tehran University in Italian Literature and California State University Fullerton in Broadcast Journalism. She also received her Masters of Business Administration from Pepperdine University in California. She is fluent in English, Italian and Farsi.
She is an avid dancer, tennis player, and book enthusiast.
OnMogul.com caught up with Shaghayegh “Sharon" Farsijani, author of “Shaming My Red Lips” and Desert35 fragrance entrepreneur, to chat about how her experience of being brought back to Tehran, Iran at the age of 17 and how it molded her into the woman she is today.
1) How and why did you decide to launch a perfume company? Why Desert35?
Desert35 Fragrances is a luxury perfume and cologne company, based in New York City, creating scents for weddings, bridal showers, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and all special occasions; along with custom fragrances for individuals.
Fragrances are the ultimate expression of you. At Desert35, we collaborate with you to create that expression through your own signature fragrance. Our specialists utilize your personality and mood, along with over 50 different fragrance notes, to create a one-of-a-kind perfume or cologne. Alongside our master perfumers we are the intersection of fashion, high end scent design blended with natural oils.
Desert comes from my name in Farsi, Shaghayegh, which means Wild Desert Poppy. 35 is how old I was when I launched it. It all began with the initial idea after I was a bridesmaid at so many of my friend’s weddings and was constantly being asked what should be gifted to the bridal party. One day, it came to me that why doesn’t my fragrance company create the scent specifically for my friend’s wedding. Many don’t realize but it gives you an opportunity to relive that day by taking you down memory lane everytime you spray or wear it. Desert35 has the ability to recreate that same formula as it will always be saved in our database. It’s really an extension of the couple’s creativity, popped in a bottle and wrapped up nicely in a luxurious box. Every event attendee is always wanting to give the couple something special and unique and this is the perfect option to do just that!
2) Tell me how your life changed when you returned to Iran as a 17 year old?
As many know, Brooklyn is far different than Iran. I was a complete opinionated Brooklynized teenager that is was placed in an Islamic culture where I felt completely alone and different. My thoughts, beliefs, religion, etc. was too different for those around me to understand, appreciate, or tolerate. Growing up, you are always wanting validation and to fit in but that wasn’t the case for me. What I was used to back in Brooklyn was the extreme opposite in regards to attire as what was expected in the islamic culture. How to dress in public changed. I felt like I couldn’t be my true authentic self without being judged. This time in my life was an unpleasant experience to say the least as it was a rough adjustment period.
3) How has your time in Iran influenced your career as an author and perfume entrepreneur here in the USA?
Traveling from Brooklyn to Tehran to California and now back to my hometown of New York City, I have had the opportunity to perfect some of the best occupations that I hold near and dear to my heart; Reporter, Anchor, Author, Lehman Brothers Communication Director. Before parting ways to create Desert35 Fragrances, I worked with Martha Stewart. I am proudly the CEO/ Founder of Desert35 Fragrances creating not only a line for customizing your signature scent along with scents for weddings and special occasions but also two distinct lines of fragrances inspired by emotions from my memoir. My memoir, Shaming My Red Lips, takes you on a ride with me through all the emotions I felt through the troubling times leading up to my success and where I am now.
4) What were your biggest challenges thus far?
As a teenager I was constantly striving to be myself, choosing my path, and my religion. Being surrounded by many that did not support my beliefs and who I was, was extremely difficult. Standing out amongst the crowd was something I had to understand was not necessarily a negative thing but rather something that can help you achieve your goals if done the right way. As an entrepreneur, I have come to learn through struggles of people not believing in my dream that fear exists because courage does. I have come to the understanding that is it best to use my personal compass and navigate through troubling times and not let fear stop me from the end result. Through my journey I have finally come to the realization that there is absolutely no problem with expressing who you are at your core and knowing there is always abundance when you share your true authentic self with others. Whether that is through a product, a book, a movie, or something alike, others ultimately value that individuality and are looking for something to connect to. All in all, knowing that it is a journey not a destination keeps me going through troubling times and helps me appreciate the process. And let’s not forget, everyone is a work in progress!
5) Tell us how the title Shaming My Red Lips came about? When and where can your memoir be purchased?
My memoir is story of how a teenager, originally from Brooklyn, views Iran from a completely westernized standpoint. It’s to show the importance of remaining true to yourself and fighting for what you believe in and not be ashamed of anything. I share my true story and all its hardships, setbacks, intimacies, and victories because in the end, they led me to security, hope and finally self-discovery. The Red Lips is a symbol of femininity and really standing out/ expressing yourself.
We then connected the book to my fragrances because my company, Desert35, is about self expression and being your true authentic self always- only in fragrance format. All 3 lines are some kind of self expression whether you are creating the scent from scratch or using The Poppy Collection: power of authenticity line or Unrestricted Eau De Parfums.
Shaming My Red Lips will be available for purchase in both the Market at Macy’s in Fort Lauderdale 6/3 and Macys Herald Square as of 8/1.It can also be purchased on Amazon.com.
6) The Poppy Collection and Unrestricted in the Now will be available at Macy's in The Market at Macy’s Fort Lauderdale and on Amazon.com, beginning on June 3rd, and Macy’s Herald Square in New York on August 1st. What can we expect next from you?
Funny you ask as we are always a couple steps ahead. Moving forward, as a company we are continuing to learn more about what our customers are wanting and keeping up with the fragrances trends to be able to create more and have the best product in the market. Most importantly, we are putting an emphasis on a company initiative to help others and give back because only when you are experiencing your full potential is the time you will be living. There are a few more exciting things in the works as well; I am writing within gaps of time the follow-up to Shaming My Red Lips...so the story continues. Lastly, the book is being made into a movie as well and I will be co-producing it. We are thrilled at the momentum behind our brand and are excited to share it with the world.