When the search for a uniquely customised fragrance can feel like an arduous task, Commodity Fragrances emerges as a beacon of authenticity and creativity. Born in 2013 through a groundbreaking global Kickstarter campaign, this unisex brand has taken the fragrance industry by storm, continuously pushing boundaries and redefining the art of exploration.
Commodity stands as a testament to the power of passion, innovation, and a commitment to uncompromising values. The brand challenges the status quo, offering a range of captivating and consciously crafted scents. Commodity's dedication to being cruelty-free, paraben-free, and phthalate-free reflects its unwavering belief in responsible beauty and sustainability.
Through the years, Commodity has weathered ups and downs. Yet, with each challenge, the brand has grown stronger and more determined. Today, in collaboration with some of the world's most accomplished artisans, Commodity has transformed the fragrance landscape, offering a spectrum of exceptional scents for individuals to discover and make their own. In an exclusive conversation, Commodity's Re-Founder Vicken Arslanian, shares details on how a feeling can be created within a scent, the suffering that can come with starting a business, and the invention and innovation of the brand's very own 'Scent Space'.
Emilie Louizides: Tell us a bit about Commodity and what inspired you to create the brand?
Commodity: I actually call myself the “Re-Founder.” Commodity was brought to life by a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, but I wasn’t associated with the brand at this time. I’ve been in fragrance distribution for more than 20 years so my eye was on Commodity, watching it develop in the market. I never expected to buy a brand, but when I received the offer to buy Commodity, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.
EL: You've created Scent Space, an opportunity for customers to take control of the projection of their chosen scent. Please tell us a bit about how it works. I can only imagine this has led to customers feeling more understood?
C: I created Scent Space because fragrance isn’t one scent-fits-all. Some people don’t want others to smell their fragrance, while some want to make more of an impact. It’s really individualized. We developed the Scent Space concept so people can start taking control of their fragrance from a projection point of view.
Each fragrance is available in 3 Scent Spaces: Personal, Expressive and Bold.
The Expressive Scent Space was actually our starting point. These were our original, iconic formulations, considered by many to be the perfect balance of projection and strength. The scents are infused with balanced, easy-to-wear notes and will be noticed by the wearer and the many around them.
The Personal Scent Space is for those who like to hold their fragrances close. We infused the Expressive fragrances with soft, molecular notes like Iso E Super and Skin Musk that ensure the scents cling to the skin. These fragrances will only be noticed by the wearer and the few they allow close.
Then there’s the other end of the Scent Space spectrum. The Bold Scent Space is infused with deep, dark notes of bravado like Patchouli or Labdanum for added projection. Fragrances that refuse to go unnoticed, these are for the wearer and everyone else.
EL: To take it a step further, you also offer discovery kits, which include all six of your fragrances across all three strengths. What kind of feedback have you received on the discovery kits from customers and retailers alike?
C: Yes, we have 6-scent Discovery Kits for each Scent Space, and an 18-scent Exploration Kit of the entire Scent Space Collection. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and the Exploration Kit is consistently our best seller.
I actually recommend all customers try Kits before buying full-size. Kits are there to provide fragrance wearers with a full introduction to a brand, typically at a lower price point. Shopping for fragrance online can be overwhelming, and oftentimes descriptions alone aren’t enough. Even with a full description, a scent might not meet someone’s expectations after spraying on the skin due to their unique skin chemistry. With Kits, consumers can keep sampling different fragrances and brands, and only commit to a full-size bottle when they find something truly worthy of their investment.
EL: You offer six signature scents: Milk, Gold, Paper, Book, Velvet, and Moss. How do you create a feeling in a scent, from the initial inspiration, to the notes, and the final name?
C: Creating a fragrance can be a very technical process but is ultimately enveloped in artistry. The most important element in creating a fragrance is the inspiration, which can come from a wide variety of places. Some brands start with the name of a fragrance and then develop the scent, others create the final fragrance and make a name that matches the scent. Inspiration can come from locations, memories, people, buildings, paintings, and virtually anything else. A “feeling” is created when the name matches the scent and the scent matches the inspiration. All three working together is that artistry brought to life.
EL: In your opinion, what can a fragrance offer a person stepping out into the world each day?
C: Fragrance is meant to offer a boost of confidence or a spark of joy, but that isn’t always the case. Someone may enjoy how a fragrance smells, but not truly enjoy how far—or not far—it’s projecting. This is how fragrance may negatively affect one’s confidence, stress, anxiety, etc. due to a fear over how a scent is perceived. This is why I created Scent Space: to let people decide for themselves how far their scent will travel, and let fragrance become that boost of confidence, not an inhibitor.
EL: As a brand, you've been open about your ups and down that include beginning on Kickstarter, being dubbed as Sephora's rising star, shuttering in 2019 and then successfully relaunching the following year. What have been the biggest lessons along the way?
C: This is my second time around at creating a brand and probably my tenth startup business. I arrogantly thought I could leap ahead quickly and make far less mistakes this time around. I’m happy to say that I was totally wrong. Mistakes still happen and everything still takes a lot of time. I think real entrepreneurs actually like the suffering part of building a business. It’s so much more rewarding when (and if) it’s successful. The only part that’s different this time around is that I have perspective and every little mistake doesn’t seem like the end of the world, or the end of the brand or the end of my life!
EL: What would fragrance lovers and collectors say sets Commodity apart from other brands?
C: I think they’d say that it’s the fragrances themselves. Commodity scents are very different than anything I’ve ever smelled, which is why I was always so drawn to the brand. Our scents are especially loved by those who want something unique or want to be the only one in the room wearing a certain fragrance.
EL: What about customers who are just beginning to explore the world of fragrance - what positives will they take from their first experience with Commodity?
C: Commodity is a great place to start when it comes to exploring niche fragrance because we strive to keep things very elemental. That’s why our fragrances have names like Moss and Gold, so someone can get an initial idea of what it’s going to smell like. But juxtaposed against these intuitive descriptions are artisan-crafted fragrances that smell truly unique.
EL: What are you most proud to have accomplished with Commodity?
C: I’m most proud of creating Scent Space. I was initially very nervous about everyone understanding and accepting the concept, but I couldn’t have anticipated a more welcoming response.
EL: What's next for Commodity?
C: So many great projects are coming soon. It’s been a dream of mine to have an ultra-modern Commodity store in New York City, so hopefully that will open this year. I also hope to connect more with international fans with in-person events, like our London event last year. Also, a new fragrance and a new size offering are in the works, which we’re very excited about.