Wine and perfume aren’t a notorious match. Sometimes, however, pairing the unlikely leads to innovative concepts that work surprisingly well.
This is what happened with New York’s first “scent sommelier” Kelly Jones, founder of Kelly & Jones‘ Notes of Wine fragrance collection. For anyone interested in starting their own business, challenging societal norms or just having an unexpected aromatic experience, read on.
Epicure & Culture: When did you decide you wanted to own your business and what led you to go for it?
Kelly Jones: I grew up in Detroit and love cars. My dad worked at General Motors [Delphi] as an engineer and I spent my childhood at car shows. I went on with a great career in the industry as a product planner. But one day, I started sketching a business plan for a perfume bar. I became obsessed with fragrance and studied it after work each night. After two years of perfecting my business plan, I decided to take the leap and go out on my own to try something new.
E&C: What was it that drew you to the world of scents?
KJ: I’ve always been obsessed with scent and fragrance, and had so many fun and memorable scents from childhood. The haystack in my grandparents’s barn. The engine oil in my dad’s Model A. Burning leaves in autumn. To me, the whole world was a perfume. It was a cherry blossom tree in Japan that finally inspired me to create my own perfume. The mission of Kelly & Jones is to to reveal the beautiful nuances of life through fragrance.
E&C: What was your inspiration for Kelly & Jones?
KJ: I was at a wine tasting in California when the winemaker declared, “Who is wearing vanilla?” I didn’t realize that there was a “no perfume in the tasting room” rule. That’s because scent can interfere with the taste of wine. I got in trouble, but it inspired me to figure out a way to pair perfume with wine.
KJ: I highly respect the world of wine, and all of the study and work that goes into becoming a sommelier. It’s the same situation with a perfumer — it takes years of serious study. I created the term “scent sommelier” to capture the spirit of the similarities of wine and perfume. Now, more people out there are enjoying the combination. But I’m proud that I created the wine and perfume pairing event concept in 2008.
E&C: How do you go about choosing how to pair perfumes and wines?
KJ: There are no serious rules — it’s all about what types of wine and scent you love. Traditionally, you should never wear perfume to a wine tasting. The fragrance can really interfere with your tasting experience. That’s why I created my line, to connect the two worlds and allow your nose to understand and appreciate all the nuances.
E&C: What gap do you think Kelly & Jones helps fill in NYC’s lifestyle world?
KJ: New York is a wine city. I’ve had the opportunity to taste the most exquisite wines here, from all over the world. We also have fantastic wine events and festivals. I participate in events with NY Wine Festivals, where we give attendees a really original and surprising experience of pairing wine and perfume.
E&C: Where can people experience Kelly & Jones’ perfumes?
KJ: Check out the whole collection at the lovely Jill Lindsey boutique in Brooklyn. It’s an exquisite little store that also has a wine bar, making it the perfect spot to sip some wine and experience the perfumes. The collection is also available at Teich Design in the West Village, and at Bene Rialto in Midtown.
E&C: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own innovative business?
KJ: Dream big, but hustle, work hard and stay focused. Create a really solid business plan before you take the leap.
E&C: Any future trend or innovation predictions for the world of wine and/or perfume?
KJ: I love that Michigan is becoming a notable wine region. I’d love to spend some time there this summer, getting some new inspiration from my hometown terroir.
E&C: What is your earliest childhood memory of scent and how it influenced you?
KJ: Focusing on the scent of burning spark plugs and engine oil from my dad’s Model A Ford really helped me to appreciate and really notice all the scents that surround us every day.
*Photos courtesy of Kelly & Jones. This article originally appeared on Drive the District.
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