Boy Smells Studio Visit
Pico-Union is one of Los Angeles’ more modest neighborhoods. Driving through to meet with Matthew Herman and David Kien, I wondered if the right address was plugged into my Lyft. Thankfully, tucked at the end of a street laden with sign-less retail is a haven – Boy Smells. Modern furniture reupholstered in sumptuous velvets and textiles greet guests upon entry, along with a rainbow of scent that is too unique to be adequately described with words. If relaxation wore perfume, it would wear “Boy Smells Studio”.
Juxtaposing its neighbors befits the brand. Its cheeky combination of millennial pink packaging stamped with a sans serif logo has become synonymous with elevated and unexpected home scents after only two years of business. With its new office already starting to feel tight, the scent revolution led by Matthew Herman and Davie Kien doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
The gents began their aromatic experiments in 2016. “Boy Smells started in 2016 from our Los Angeles home where we hand-blended and hand-poured our original five smells including Kush, Petal and Cedar Stack,” says Kien. The trials in candle making soon developed into a personal-care business. “Collectively, we knew we wanted to create re-imagined self-care products that were inclusive and affirming, regardless of gender,” he continued. So they did. In 2018, the brand launched a collection of loungewear made from 100% pima cotton called Unmentionables. The bralettes and briefs come in a smattering of solid colors that would scoff at the notion of gender if colors could scoff.
Matthew lived in New York prior to relocating West. While New Yorkers can no longer express Patti Smith-like creative freedoms, a Manhattanite can still stick out in Los Angeles. Herman, however, fits into the county quite well. “I try to bring the energy and spirit from my past experiences in NYC to LA while maintaining a more holistic and thoughtful approach to day-to-day affairs. For us as co-owners and life-partners, our daily rituals are non-negotiable and Los Angeles gives us the space to experiment and explore,” he says. There isn't space for the yoga Herman had hoped to practice in the brand's new HQ, but experimentation and inspiration are everywhere.
As business grows, the brand remains committed to an eco-conscious approach in all that they do, because that’s what makes sense. “Our wax is all-natural and sourced from coconut and bees then hand-poured in a reusable glass vessel. We work closely with our supplies to source the best materials available with the least amount of impact to the natural order of things,” a representative of the brand said. While specifics of the brand’s future product development remain a secret, rest assured that the Herman and Kien continue to create and disrupt. “We are looking deeper into new product categories with exciting launches throughout 2019.” Tantalizing.
Words: James Francis Kelley
Photography: Afari La-Anyane (@afarlaa)