Q&A with Kerosene Fragrances
Whenever I encounter a new brand or line, of course I want to know the “what,” especially if it will eventually end up in my store. But I never tire of hearing and understanding the “who” and the “why,” too. Who is the person or partnership behind a product? What motivates and inspires them? How does that personality and passion make its way through the product characteristics and packaging to a target client?
I have never met John of Kerosene Fragrances, but we have exchanged many e-mails, and I decided he would be a good subject for a brief question-and-answer—a sort of look behind the scenes of a real-life niche parfumer based out of a familiar place (Detroit), rather than faraway lands, like Europe.
Here is our conversation:
Your story and brand are quite unique: what made you decide to become a “parfumer”?
I always like to have a project on the go, and enjoy the challenge of creating things, whether it be music, writing, or building a motorcycle. So when I got into perfume as a hobby, I smelled everything I could get my hands on. I eventually got bored and started researching how to create my own fragrances. A shop in New York tested out my first creations and decided to pick up the brand. About a year later I quit my factory day job to focus on building the Kerosene brand.
What is your biggest challenge with your brand and/or you personally? (e.g. awareness, distribution, time-management)
What would be considered a ‘challenge’ for most is seen as a positive for us as a brand. We want Kerosene to be recognized and well-known, but we want true fans of our fragrances to spread the word on a ‘grass roots’ level, and that’s exactly what’s been happening. It has been a slow and steady growth for us. We don’t advertise. Whoever gets their hands on the scents and loves them, shares their experience with others, and that’s how the brand has been recognized.
What is your process when you develop a new scent prototype? Does it start with a scent you remember that you want to recreate, or an abstract concept you want to personify in smell?
I like to build upon a particular note that I enjoy, or have just discovered. Instead of focusing on what the ‘masses’ will enjoy or appreciate, it’s important for me to create something ‘solid’ that I am proud of. Above all, I want my fragrances to be distinct and memorable.
What is your hope for Kerosene? Best possible scenario?
Right now, we’re in the best possible scenario. We are able to provide a handcrafted product that is made in the U.S.A. to appreciators of artisanal fragrances around the world, and have the freedom to be making a living doing so. We’re very grateful.
There is a movement of “renaissance people” in and around Detroit that are making lemonade out of lemons, so to speak, like Shinola for example. What do you see for the future of “made in Detroit”?
The ‘Made in Detroit’ movement will continue. People are recognizing the importance of supporting brands that are based in the U.S.A., and re-building vulnerable communities through empowerment; positivity breeds positivity.