"If you have a dream and are willing to sacrifice a lot of things for it, you can do anything," Gregory said.
The 35-year old launched Fable in April after more than five yeras of research and development and a million dollars of investment. The scent is sold at Tiba de Nuhad Khoury at The Mall at Green Hills... Bergdorf Goodman's New York store. His company expects sales from $500,000 to $1 million this year.
Gregory's plunge into the high-end fragrance world was prompted by a visit nine years go to the rare depp-blue Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where it resides in a case of high-tech security glass.
As the great-grandson of Evalyn Walsh McLean, who owned the Hope Diamond until her death in 1947, Gregory had grown up hearing about the legendary 45.52 carat diamond.
The scene at the Smithsonian impressed upon Gregory the attraction of the fabled gem and the marketing possibilities of a product base on his family history.
"There was such a crowd around the case, people were having their picture taken in front of it and wanting to reach out and touch it," Gregory said.
His experience in the industry — first as a fragrance model, then working form perfume company Boucheron as a trainer of counter personnel at Castner Knott stores for more than three years — gave Gregory sales contacts and an awareness of the best selling scents.
It still proved difficult for an unknown from Nashville to break into the fragrance business. Gregory invested over $1 million of his own into the creation and marketing of Fable.
He was turned down by nine cosmetic companies before connecting with British-based Quest International, which he contracted with to create and manufacture the fragrance.
"People always say to me, 'I wish I had done this or that,'" Gregory said. "I don't want to be 50 years old and saying I wish I had tried to do this."
Gregory's intention was to creat a classic fragrance with notes of creme brulee, which had been a favorite of his great grandmother. He spent more than four years rejecting and refining scents until he was satisfied. Fable ended up with notes of ivy, bergamot, rosewood and ylang ylang.
The perfume, or "juice" as it's called in the industry, is made in France, as are the bottles. New York designer Marc Rosen, who designed packaging for Elizabeth Arden's Red Door and Halston's Catalyst for Men, came up with the lin's five different packages, which range from $55 for perfumed creme to $375 for the 1 ounce parfum. Each bottle is topped with a crystal-faceted, indigo stone reminiscent of the Hope Diamond.
"The timing of this has been perfect," Gregory said. He noted the interest generated by the movie, "Titanic," which featured a similar blue diamond necklace.
About two years ago, Gregory brought Chuck Rapp on board as vice president of his company, which is called [Fable Fragrance] Inc. Rapp, a former marketer with Clairol and Matrix hair products, wants to slowly build Fable's niche market, rather than having it make a quick splash and just be remembered as the fragrance of the month.
"The real advantage we have is Joseph's background in retail," Rapp said, "He knows from being out there what people at the fragrance counter experience on a day-to-day basis."
That's why Gregory is returning to the counter, this time in personal appearances to sign Fable boxes and talk to people about the great-grandmother he never met but has heard stories about.
"She was very discreet, but she was giving," Gregory said of McLean. "I want to touch people like she did."
Gregory is now working on a line of men's scents, and the company plans to have a web site up in October. Fable will be in twice as many stores by the end of the year, and will be available in a newly designed silver edition collectible bottle.
"When women wear a fragrance, they want to be able to tell where it came from and the story behind it," Gregory said.
"This is product based on people."