Palmetto Scent Studio utilizes scent as an important aspect of design. “We help people explore fragrance as a vehicle for conveying a design element, a feeling, a memory. [Fragrance] can do any of those things,” says Jeff La Rue, co-owner of Palmetto Scent Studio.
“Fragrance has the ability to immediately transport you somewhere,”
What Does It Mean To Design With Scent?
“Scent sets the mood for a space,” says Jeff. “How do you want that room of your house to feel?”
“You might want different rooms to feel different. For the kitchen – you might think of herbal, citrus, bright. But you might not want that scent in your bedroom.”
If you want a candle for a certain space but don’t have a specific scent in mind, Jeff and Glenda encourage you to think about what your home or office looks like.
“People are more familiar with describing images than scents…If I ask them what their kitchen looks like and they describe granite countertops, stainless doors, glass and steel – that smells different than a country kitchen with upholstery,” explains Jeff.
“One might smell like baked bread while the other smells like citrus.”
Of course, there are times when designing the scent of your home goes beyond the space itself. The staff at Palmetto Scent Studio are experts at recreating a fond memory through scent.
“A young lady was going to college and wanted something that smelled like her back yard in the marsh while she’s in the Northeast. She wanted a candle that smelled of home,” says Glenda.
“We’ve also had long distance couples who will blend two candles that smell the same so when they’re talking on the phone they can have the same scent in the room.”
Capture Customers With A Private Label Scent
Glenda and Jeff also see custom scents as a unique advantage for businesses. “Think about scent as a way to capture people and get them coming
back,” says Glenda.
By expanding your brand image and product offerings to include a custom scent, you provide a way for customers and guests to keep the memory of your business with them.
“One of the breweries we work with, they used locally sourced ingredients like citrus and basil to craft their unique beers. Seasonally, we work to come up with two or three candles that match what’s on tap,” says Glenda. “With them, we’ve expanded from candles to hand sanitizers. A little out of the box, but that describes us.”
“It’s just very powerful and we love doing the private labels,” says Glenda.
A Creative Experience At Palmetto Scent Studio
So how does creating your custom scent work? Different from most custom candle shops, Palmetto Scent Studio encourages walk-ins.
To start, explore their scent wall. Filled with 100+ options and everything from Anjou pear to yuzu, Glenda and Jeff arm customers with a notepad.
“If you don’t smell every one [scent], at least smell the ones that are a little curious to you,” Jeff advises.
After a few minutes the staff at Palmetto Scent Studio will help you select a few from your list of favorites that work well together.
“We sometimes take colored markers and put dots next to foodie smells, spicy, flowers, etc. so they [customers] can think of them as categories. Lemongrass might pair nicely with foodie smells or spicy smells. There’s overlap, and the goal is to make YOUR nose happy,” says Jeff.
“Then we grab samples and put them together. They get an idea of how the scents will blend together. Guests rarely go half and half. They might only want a drop or two of campfire in their bourbon to enhance smokey notes. Then we start thinking about – what do you want to stand out?”
“I like to say it’s cooking without a recipe. You smell it along the way,” says Glenda. “It’s very individualized.”
The custom experience doesn’t stop at scent. “Like scent being really personal, so is a vessel,” says Glenda.
“In describing their kitchen, someone might prefer something totally sleek, no embellishments. But someone in a Victorian home might want ornate and decorated.”
Each candle vessel is sourced from a U.S. based company and is certified to be candle safe. You can also bring your own vessel, as long as it previously had a candle in it before.
“You probably don’t want to put a candle in your great-grandmother’s champagne glass from her wedding. We would feel terrible if it got a crack in the glass from the heat. So we shy away [from that], but for the most part we get creative,” says Jeff.
Crafting your custom scent and pouring your candle generally takes about 30 minutes.
While your candle sets (about 2 hours), Jeff and Glenda encourage you to explore the neighboring shops and restaurants. Once your candle has cured they’ll hand deliver the finished product to you.
Custom Scented Body Products
For customers who are looking for something beyond candles, Palmetto Scent Studio has created a carefully curated line of body products.
“[We wanted to] give guests the experience of custom scents, even if they weren’t particularly needing or wanting a home fragrance,” says Glenda. “I’m sensitive to parabens, so I wanted to take the time to find the bases to the products.”
“Price-wise, they’re acceptable. Especially for kids who are going shopping. They can pick up a roll-on fragrance for $16.”
Add your custom fragrance to goat’s milk body lotion, sugar scrubs, body wash and mists, as well as foaming hand soap. You can also customize your own hand sanitizer, a welcome relief from some of the less desirable ones we’ve all encountered this past year.
Spreading Joy Through Custom Experiences
Palmetto Scent Studio started out as a pop-up event at local breweries and farmers markets. “I loved the synergy of having the pop-up [at a brewery] because it’s a natural pair,” says Glenda. “The pop-ups were the first time I realized we were making people really happy. I love making people happy.”
As their business continues to grow, the personalized, customizable aspect remains the focal point.
“We keep it simple, take the reins off and let people have fun,” says Jeff. “Complication is not pleasurable to me. We wanted the creative process in our studio to be more like that of cooks who don’t follow recipes – they want to be off leash a little bit.”
“We love our community and couldn’t be here without them,” says Jeff. “We want to continue to be that small mom and pop shop.”
Follow Palmetto Scent Studio on Instagram for their latest pop-up schedule, or call ahead [due to COVID safety measures] for a ‘walk-in’ candle making experience at 157 Church Street, Downtown Charleston.