You may have noticed Boy Smells candles in black vessels adorned with pink labels on your Instagram feeds, your friends’ mantles, and probably even in your home.
What started as a small, queer-owned company slowly became one of the biggest names in the fragrance category. Now, with an expansive collection featuring candles, intimates, and fine fragrances, Boy Smells is making two of its biggest moves.
In the spring of 2021, Boy Smells finally evolved from candles and introduced the world to its “genderful” fine fragrance collection. Instead of taking gender out of the equation with “ungendered” or “genderless,’ scents, the Boy Smells philosophy is rooted in inviting consumers to define themselves however they please.
The brand followed its successful fine fragrance debut with more scents inspired by its existing library and new originals, signaling that there’s much more to come in the future. Today, Boy Smells introduces their latest original scent, Woodphoria.
Wood notes are used frequently across the brand’s catalog, but this is the first fragrance that falls squarely into the woods family. Like the rest of their collection, the scent balances the dualities inside us: pliable and firm, plush and firm, soft and coarse.
Woodphoria opens with a spicy blend of black pepper and cardamom, buoyed by coconut water’s fresh, mellow sweetness. Boy Smells is working with what they’ve coined “overlap notes,” or notes that work as the conduit between the typical structure of the top middle and base notes, taking you from one to the other.
Here, fig leaves work as the overlap between the top and heart, giving way to jasmine petals, lily of the valley, and soft suede. An overlap note of the honeyed, earthy ambroxan brings you down to the base, which is grounded by the sandalwood’s softness and the cedarwood’s sturdiness, all accented by soft musks.
Right away, Woodphoria is more reserved than the often bold, boisterous Boy Smells fragrances, and it sits closer to the skin and doesn’t reveal itself so brashly. This difference in volume is a welcome change for those who may not want their fragrance to enter a room before they do.
The scent is surprising because it isn’t your typical dry, earthy wood scent. Instead, it offers a bit more freshness from the coconut water, a hot spice from the pepper, and airiness from the florals at its heart. It’s an alluring, velvety take on wood that beckons you to come closer. Historically, Boy Smells fragrances give it away all at once, and this one leaves itself as more of a mystery.
The launch of Woodphoria also marks another step in expanding the Boy Smells universe: their partnership with Sephora. Officially launching online Tuesday, August 30th on Sephora.com and in 122 in-store locations on Tuesday, September 12th, you’ll be able to shop 24 products, including the new, Sephora-exclusive fine fragrance, Woodphoria.
While currently available in a few department stores and many independent retailers, entering Sephora makes many brands’ end game a reality. While e-commerce is more popular and convenient than ever in most categories with one-click buying, curated shopping, and targeted ads on desktop and mobile, studies have shown that when it comes to beauty, most consumers still prefer to purchase in-store.
Co-Founder and Creator of Boy Smells, Matthew Herman, told us how much it meant to see his brand in Sephora. “Ever since we launched Boy Smells in 2016, we’ve been working tirelessly to change the narrative around how gender and identity are thought of, both in the world of fragrance and the beauty industry,” Herman says. “Launching at Sephora marks a huge milestone regarding recognition for queer-owned brands. Our vision of a genderful future where consumers are empowered to embrace their authentic selves reflects the shifting values of modern-day consumers.”
A presence on the gondolas of America’s biggest beauty retailer allows consumers that are hesitant to buy a candle (or fine fragrance) online without smelling it the chance to explore the collection at their leisure and replenish after they fall in love.
This does pose a unique challenge for the brand. The Boy Smells “genderful” ethos still challenges the fragrances industry’s binary gender segmentation. While they’re not the first brand to create scents for all genders, they have made it an ownable part of the Boy Smells DNA. How does the brand plan to bring its concept to life in a retailer whose fragrance section is still so gendered?
Herman explained, “Our debut into Sephora reflects the shift that beauty is for everyone. We package in pink but are called Boy,” Herman says. “Nothing is off limits when it comes to embracing who you are. And, nothing is off limits when we blend our signature fragrances, mixing traditionally masculine and feminine notes in unexpected ways.”
What began as an indie fragrance darling is now marking its territory in Sephoras nationwide, checking off a box that is typically essential for brands to become a household name. Still, if we know anything about Boy Smells, it’s that the brand is not concerned with anything typical. Another fine fragrance launch and landing in retailers is undeniably a milestone move, but it’s only one step in—what is sure to be—the next era in fragrance, which is only bigger and bolder from here.