Welcome to the latest in our series of conversations with people we admire. Our latest gracious subject? Our adviser Jessica Hendricks Yee—the founder of The Brave Collection, a line of jewelry that’s made in Cambodia and raises money to fight human trafficking. (You can see some of the collection in our shoot for our new Sandara fragrance.) In our conversation, she shares what inspires her, her favorite scent memories, and her 91-year-old grandma’s key to longevity. She also gives us the scoop on her next big project. (Hint: it involves jewelry). Check it out below.Read More
Hello, and welcome to our first guest post on Out of the Blue. It comes from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the leading organization for identifying and protecting threatened and endangered species. We are proud to support the IUCN’s mission by donating a portion of the proceeds from every bottle of fragrance we sell, and we are also proud to welcome them to our blog with this timely post.
The paradise islands of Hawaii are famous for their beaches, volcanoes and rich biodiversity. Over 10,000 species of plants, animals and fungi are found only on these islands—nowhere else on earth—and they play a major role in generating an annual $10 billion in annual income from the tourist industry.
Hawaii’s native species are also a valued part of traditional life, where they are used for medicine, ceremonies, tools and jewelry. Despite the economic, social and environmental importance of these species, current estimates indicate that as much 50% of all species found on Hawaii are at risk of extinction.
An astonishing 83% of the 433 Hawaiian plant species listed on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ are facing a risk of extinction in the wild. Fifty-two percent of the Hawaiian plant species are classified as Critically Endangered (CR).
It seemed like a good idea at the time: Take some of our fine fragrances, and make candles from their scents. After all, if you love the way something smells on your skin throughout the day, why not perfume the air with it, too. Easy, right? Well, in the immortal words of the Brad Pitt film Moneyball, it’s incredibly hard.
Fortunately, we had the incredibly talented perfumer Nathalie Benareau to help us, and she made it seem effortless. In roughly two months, she took her original scents from Hanami, Olmsted & Vaux and Hepcat, and translated them into Annica, Claremont and Howl, respectively. “This guy I love to work with is very knowledgeable, and he gave me a few ideas on what to use,” she says. “I called him in and he said ‘Augh! These people who try to turn fragrance into a candle. It never works!’ [Laughs.] But it does if you do it the right way.”
We couldn’t agree more. We spoke with Nathalie to learn just what the right way entails.
When we first founded our business, one of our first decisions was that we would be a values-based organization—one that always takes into account all of our stakeholders when making any decision. This means that we consider the perspective of our clients, our partners, our team, our investors and our planet, with everything we do.
This might seem like the obvious thing to do, but unfortunately it’s not a common one, as many businesses make decisions only through the narrow lens of short-term profitability. By instead considering all stakeholders, we believe we will make thoughtful and balanced decisions that will, in turn, create the best outcomes for all of our stakeholders—including, most importantly, you.
Happily, we’re not alone in adopting this approach. In fact, there is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping businesses focus on creating what many call “conscious capitalism.” That organization is B Lab, and we’re thrilled to share that we’ve just been certified by them as a B Corp.
When we began planning our photoshoot for Sandara—our brand-new scent, inspired by a mindful walk in the Redwoods—we knew it had to be something special. The location was a no-brainer: Portola Redwoods State Park embodied our vision for the fragrance. And the models, well, they couldn’t be just models. (Not that any model is ever just a model, but you know what we mean.) We wanted people who understood what Sandara was all about.
“There is no smell like this smell from the timur pepper.”
So says a representative from Mane, our partners for our new fragrance Sandara, describing that scent’s key ingredient, Nepalese timur pepper. It’s prized for its lemony top notes, with traces of ginger, grapefruit and spice. (It is a pepper, after all.) As Sandara’s perfumer, Gino Percontino, puts it: “The heart of the fragrance is the timur pepper. It’s one of the shining stars. To me it means so much.”
But as with many star ingredients, Nepalese timur pepper isn’t easy to come by. It’s rare and therefore precious, a reminder that in ancient days, spices were as valued as gold, and just as subject to counterfeiting and fraud. (That said, the pepper is not as rare as, say, Indian sandalwood, which has been harvested to the point of near-extinction.) Mane sources it responsibly, partnering with impoverished communities in Nepal to ensure that the pepper is a critical source of income not just for the women who live and work there now, but for generations to come.
And then there were seven.
For the first time, we are adding a new fragrance to our collection of six award-winning scents. The new scent is called Sandara, and we think it’s unlike anything else out there.
To explain just what makes it so special, we asked the man who should know: Gino Percontino, the perfumer who crafted it, and who is working with us for the very first time. Here’s what he told us:
These days, you hear the term “natural” thrown around a lot. It sounds great—who doesn’t like nature?—but it’s a little misleading. After all, cyanide is found in nature, but you wouldn’t want to eat it, drink it, or spray it on your skin. That’s why we prefer the term botanical. It’s a little more precise (we only use plant products). And at this point, natural is basically a marketing buzzword. And who needs more of those?
Our goal is simple: We strive to use the best possible ingredients in all of our products, and the reality is that scents created in labs are often the better choice. Take Indian sandalwood. A wonderful ingredient, but one that’s been overharvested to the point of near-extinction. We love how it smells, which is why we don’t use it—we want future generations to experience it, too.
Welcome to the latest in our series of interviews with people we admire. Kevin Fink is one of those people. He’s the man behind Emmer & Rye, one of the best restaurants in our hometown of Austin, Texas, if not the country. (Just ask Bon Appetit or Food & Wine or any number of publications singing its praises.)
What makes it so good? Much of it comes from Kevin’s mindful approach to food, which he honed at such iconic spots as Noma and The French Laundry. Everything he does he does with purpose, whether it’s exclusively using whole animals or buying heritage grains. These things ensure the food tastes better, sure, but they’re also the right thing to do—things that support the community, reduce waste, foster relationships with farmers and growers. We aim for a similar approach with our fragrances and candles, and that’s why we asked Kevin to host a special scent dinner when we launched last year.
We caught up with Kevin recently, and he was as busy as ever. He and his wife had their first child, a baby boy, this fall. And soon, he will open Henbit, a restaurant that brings the same mindful approach to food as Emmer & Rye, but for a more casual diner. (It will open at Fareground, an upcoming marketplace in downtown Austin.) As you might expect, Fink is deeply thoughtful and considerate, precise with how he speaks, occasionally cutting himself off mid-sentence to layer on a new idea, as if hurrying to match the pace of his own thoughts. We just tried our best to keep up.
Welcome to the latest installment of Meet the Team, where we interview members of our team to get their insights on fragrance, candles, and life itself. Next up: Amanda Klohmann, who leads our Customer Experience team.
We spoke with her about her favorite fragrances, her scent memories, and her favorite places to go in Austin…