Patti Upton: Founder and Chief of Aromatique Continues to Inspire

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 29, 2010 12:00 am  

The awards and accolades piled up along with a fair share of Aromatique imitators. The company's success also drew her into the upper echelons of the business world.

In 1993, Upton was named to the board of directors at Southwestern Bell Corp. and now its successor, AT&T Inc.

"I bet I'm the only board member of a Fortune 500 company who didn't graduate from college," she said.

That's true as far as her attendance at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is concerned. Prior to that, the Jonesboro native did finish a two-year program at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., one of the oldest all-girls schools in the nation.

Her design awards at Stephens recognized talent that would be put on full display after raising her family and starting Aromatique with the encouragement of her husband, Dick.

She is proud of the philanthropic legacy the company has built, supporting a variety of state and local charities that include Little Rock's University of
Arkansas for Medical Science and Heber Springs Relay for Life, which benefits the Arkansas Chapter of the American Cancer Society.

In 1993, Upton launched "The Natural State," a fragrance line she created that has raised more than $1.7 million for the Nature Conservancy.

"We try to be as generous as we can, and we have a reputation for that," she said. "We try to give something back. That's very important to me."

Upton has slowed her pace some at Aromatique, which she concedes was a hard thing to do. But she relishes a continued hands-on involvement with the creative side of the business.

Upton shared her thoughts on entrepreneurship in 1997 when she was inducted into The Society of Entrepreneurs in Memphis.

"At the onset, entrepreneur held a meaning to me of a highly successful person," she said. "I quickly learned that it meant only that you were the organizer of an undertaking ... no free lunches, no time off for success. Today's entrepreneurship is not just a part of the nation's economy; it is the driving force, the unbridled energy of creative endeavor. I am proud of the accomplishments of Aromatique and its worldwide acceptance. My Southern roots are deep, and so it is that I had an advantage not available to all ... my family and my friends."




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