Mei Xu is an Asian American entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in the consumer product and wellness industries. Passionate about innovation and infusing a founder’s spirit into conglomerates, universities, and hospitals, Xu is a sought-after speaker, corporate board member, and award-winning author.
Xu created one of the fastest-growing privately-owned companies in the United States. Her passion for innovation and design-driven growth has made her a public spokesperson on entrepreneurship and reshoring since 2012 when she joined twelve other blue-chip CEOs at President Obama’s Insourcing American Jobs Forum at the White House.
Her business achievements have garnered her many awards and accolades, including,
She has served on many corporate and nonprofit boards, including the University of Maryland, the Baltimore Foundation, Children’s National Hospital Foundation, and the Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc.
In 1994, Xu began experimenting with fragrance and chemicals in her Bethesda basement, starting a global enterprise employing 1,400 workers and operating five global design, development, and production facilities. She began focusing on candles when she spotted a trend, believing that this product category contained the highest innovation potential. Xu believed that one day she would bring fragrance-infused candles into the health and wellness space.
As she grew Chesapeake Bay Candles into a lifestyle brand and diversified its product line, transforming rather bland and drab slender candle offerings into fragrance-infused fashion statements, she and her team traveled the world to anticipate and forecast trends. She incubated various product ideas in development centers in China, Vietnam, and the American seaboard in the United States, manufactured them in her factories, and sold them to Bloomingdale’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, and other top retailers.
Chesapeake Bay became the first American brand to invest in Vietnam following the reinstatement of its trading relationship with the United States. It was also among the few to onshore nearly one hundred jobs to the United States in 2011, following the opening of its first US factory in Maryland. Xu’s capstone achievement at the company came in 2016 with the launch of the “Mind & Body” collection. Generating $20 million in annual sales, Mind & Body was the first fragrance line in the wellness category. With her vision to unite the fragrance-based consumer product and wellness industries, Xu successfully negotiated the sale of Chesapeake Bay Candle to Newell Brands in 2017, a conglomerate with a $14 billion portfolio of consumer goods. A Columbia University Business case study detailing Mei’s leadership in trend forecasting, managing resilient global supply chains, establishing manufacturing facilities in new countries, reshoring jobs to the United States, and establishing strategic partnerships with major retailers is now required reading for all MBA students.
Deeply committed to helping female entrepreneurs, Mei launched the social impact venture called Yes She May in 2020. Originally designed to help small female business owners weather the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic, the venture began informally with Xu mentoring business owners, advising on design innovation-style thinking, and giving keynote speeches about doing business in the United States. The venture soon scaled into a global e-commerce platform that elevated women-owned companies in the beauty, fashion, and wellness sectors. Partnering with FedEx, Facebook, Square, and Santander Bank UK, Xu curated and helped launch nearly 100 innovative brands.
While scaling Yes She May, Xu became reflective on her entrepreneurial journey and wrote Burn: How Grit, Innovation, and a Dash of Luck Ignited a Multi-Million Dollar Success Story. Geared to founders, entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in applying innovation to non-traditional business categories, the memoir details her childhood in communist China and her experience in a reeducation camp following the Tiananmen Square massacre. It follows her journey to the United States, where she spearheaded and scaled a multi-million-dollar fragrance and wellness business.
Leveraging her industry leadership in fragrance and her passion for wellness and environmental stewardship, Xu founded Concord Fragrances in 2023. Launching at Bloomingdales’ stores and website, Blueme, the newly founded brand, is a first-in-class “functional fragrance” company. Blueme uses the latest science-based research and formulas to provide a whole new way to strategically layer scent into consumers’ lives, allowing them to enjoy physiological and emotional benefits and increase their well-being! Not only will her new collections help consumers to elevate and fragrance their personal space, they will also further address the consumer’s drive for sustainability by offering recandle (refill candles) to encourage reusing the candle vessels. This approach promises to become the new global standard in fragrance-based wellness. As Xu continually works on unlocking the power of our senses’ smell, she is constantly thriving in design, innovation, and social entrepreneurship!