Boy Smells, originally a candle brand, has successfully transitioned into a fragrance and body lotion company. Established in 2016 by Matthew Herman and David Kien, Boy Smells has experienced rapid growth in the world of scents, having sold over 100,000 candles. The brand has also expanded its product line to include fragrances and body lotions, solidifying its position in the market.

The idea for Boy Smells emerged during Herman and Kien’s relationship when they sought to create a design-oriented business that embraced queerness. Herman, with a background in fashion design for esteemed labels such as Giles Deacon, Proenza Schouler, and Nasty Gal, had a passion for fragrances. Kien, a fashion production specialist in Los Angeles, was looking for a relaxing hobby alongside his fashion work. Together, they formed Boy Smells to bring their vision to life.

One of the brand’s key differentiators is its unique positioning in the market. Boy Smells aims to challenge gender norms and celebrate individuality. Breaking away from traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, Boy Smells adorns its candles in pink packaging and offers scents like rose and jasmine, typically associated with femininity. By doing so, Boy Smells seeks to create a space for self-expression, disrupting the binary model in favor of inclusivity.

Central to Boy Smells’ identity is the concept of “genderful.” Rejecting the idea of binary gender, the brand emphasizes the spectrum of masculinity and femininity that exists within everyone. Boy Smells encourages individuals to embrace their full identities and be loved for who they are. This message has struck a chord, especially among millennials who value inclusivity and the freedom of self-expression.

In terms of distribution, Boy Smells initially targeted specialty boutiques like ByGeorge and Forty Five Ten. Additionally, the brand attended trade shows and leveraged their network in the high fashion and wholesale industries. Their breakthrough came when they were invited to be part of Nordstrom’s “Space” concept, amplifying their brand presence. Since then, Boy Smells has secured partnerships with renowned retailers like Selfridges, Liberty, Farfetch, and Sephora. Notably, London and the UK have emerged as the brand’s top markets outside of the US.

While the brand’s primary focus remains on the United States, Boy Smells has plans to expand into Asia and Southeast Asia, recognizing the potential in these markets. However, they are currently not prepared for such expansion. The brand’s British audience has resonated strongly with its sense of humor and love for candles, making London and the UK significant growth areas.

In addition to candles, Boy Smells has ventured into other product categories, including fragrances and hand lotions. They acknowledge ample opportunities to innovate in the home and bathroom space but are primarily focused on fragrances at the moment. Their fragrances have performed well at Sephora, indicating their potential for success. Scent plays a crucial role in Boy Smells’ brand identity, and they believe collaborations in the home and hospitality sectors could be interesting avenues to explore.

Collaborations have played a pivotal role in Boy Smells’ ascent. The brand has joined forces with notable artists and musicians like Kacey Musgraves and Grace Jones. Musgraves represents a liberal message in the country music industry and is a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Grace Jones, an iconic figure in embracing genderful identities, aligns perfectly with the brand’s values. Boy Smells selects collaborators based on their personal interests and admiration for their work.

While Boy Smells has yet to open its first store, the brand achieved success with a pop-up shop at Platform in Culver City. This pop-up had a high conversion rate, indicating strong customer interest. As the brand seeks to expand its retail presence, they are carefully considering various locations such as Silver Lake, the Arts District, Melrose, and West Adams. They prioritize finding a location that aligns with their brand vision and are taking their time to ensure the perfect fit.

To support their growth and expansion, Boy Smells recently appointed David Duplantis as CEO. Duplantis brings a wealth of experience from his previous roles at J. Crew, Gap, and Coach. As the brand navigates its growth, the founders are open to external capital investments, provided they find the right partner.

The journey of Boy Smells from a candle brand to a fragrance powerhouse exemplifies the founders’ vision and their ability to connect with their target audience. By embracing inclusivity, promoting genderful values, and fostering creative collaborations, Boy Smells has set itself apart in the highly competitive world of scents. As the brand continues to thrive, Boy Smells has a promising future ahead.

Useful Links:
1. Boy Smells Official Website
2. Boy Smells on Sephora