P.F. Candle Co. Founders on Scents That Smell Like Summer

Thomas Neuberger and Kristen Pumphrey.
Photo: Courtesy of P.F. Candle Co.

Scientific research verify that, of all of the senses, scent presents the very best recall. In “Scent Memories,” the Cut asks folks concerning the scents they affiliate with completely different occasions of their lives.

Next up are Kristen Pumphrey and Thomas Neuberger, the duo behind Los Angeles–primarily based home-fragrance firm P.F. Candle Co. The couple just lately debuted their first e book, At Home With Fragrance: Creating Modern Scents for Your Space, a information to DIY-ing your individual customized scents and adorning your private home with perfume. They’ve additionally simply launched a brand new limited-edition candle, Watermelon & Chili, a tart and juicy scent that packs the carefree vibes of pool events and picnics previous into the model’s signature amber jars. The Cut caught up with the couple to speak sizzling springs, skunks, and their most memorable summer season nights.

Your first scent reminiscence:Kristen Pumphrey: I grew up in Virginia, and in the summertime we’d all the time catch lightning bugs, or fireflies, and put them into jars. My mother would use previous Classico-pasta-sauce jars and poke holes within the lids for us. I all the time thought that the lightning bugs themselves had that type of mineral-y and sharp scent, however as an grownup, I spotted it was truly the scent of a cleaned-out pasta-sauce jar. That scent takes me again.

Thomas Neuberger: For me, it’s being caught in a automotive in visitors. When I used to be 18, I left California for seven years earlier than transferring again, and once I did, I had all these bizarre experiences the place I might be caught in visitors and the scent of smog, or exhaust, would simply transport me again to being a child caught in visitors. It’d be 100 levels, and my mother’s automotive didn’t have air-conditioning within the ’90s, so the home windows could be down and we might simply be smelling the town air, which isn’t nice. It’s all the time actually positional, too. I’ll be on an overpass and I’ll scent one thing that jogs my memory of being on that very same overpass once I was 5.

Happiness smells like:Okay.P.: Warm white florals like tuberose, gardenia, and jasmine. They have a little bit little bit of a vanilla facet to them, which I like. Because these florals are so heat, they really feel like they’re enveloping you in a hug.

T.N.: Happiness smells like freedom and no duty. Every so typically, I’ll be strolling or driving at night time, and there’s this cool, minty, medicinal scent coming off the wilderness areas right here in Los Angeles. It’s in all probability a dry creek or one thing, but it surely jogs my memory of being a youngster, once I would simply stroll throughout the town as a result of I had nothing else to do. That scent jogs my memory of being carefree — no dad and mom, no guidelines, no tasks. It’s the scent of freedom, to me.

Love smells like:T.N.: Anything our firm makes, as a result of it jogs my memory of on a regular basis we spent collectively constructing the corporate. Every time I scent our merchandise, particularly our hottest one, Teakwood & Tobacco, which we’re making more often than not, I’m introduced again to these first couple years, when it was simply us making candles collectively.

Okay.P.: I really feel like love smells like pheromones and somebody’s private odor. When I first met Tom, he was dwelling on this punk home in Austin. He had a pallet as a wall, not an precise wall; the bathe scenario was sketchy; and he was all the time using his bike, so he positively smelled grungy. At first, I used to be very shocked by it, however I knew I used to be falling in love with him once I favored that scent. It’s a little bit gross, however that’s how you understand you’re in love with somebody: once you like the way in which they scent — all of the unhealthy, too.

Heartbreak or loss smells like:T.N.: Probably flowers, as a result of everybody provides them this present when you’re within the hospital or somebody dies. I feel there’s some irony there, but it surely actually does make sense as a result of flowers are so lovely and delicate, however they’re additionally impermanent, and I feel that involves signify life’s totality. It’s illustration of the impermanence of life.

Okay.P.: Yeah, they’re type of all the time decaying when you get them. That decaying molecule is known as indole, so, for me, that molecule smells like heartbreak or loss. Some folks assume it smells like halitosis or mothballs. I scent it in previous homes, just like the built-in cupboards in ours, or in thrift shops. I all the time affiliate that scent with different folks’s recollections.

Friendship smells like:T.N.: All my mates scent unhealthy, like I used to scent, as a result of they’re all soiled hippies, so friendship in all probability smells like BO, stale beer, and cigarette smoke …

Okay.P.: I feel my mates scent a little bit higher [laughs]. Friendship smells like balmy night time air. This might be a teenage reminiscence — once you’re driving round with the home windows down, and also you’re up later than the remainder of the world, so it’s cool and balmy on the similar time. It smells a little bit humid, a little bit dewy, balsamic, woody, and a little bit spicy and smoky.

Regret smells like:T.N.: I’m a giant proponent of no regrets in life and made it some extent to attempt to not remorse something, as a result of errors are simply the constructing blocks to the place you might be right now. So, for me, remorse is a constructing block, like a base be aware. Probably a woody one, like sandalwood, or possibly one thing extra fairly and powdery, like orris root.

Okay.P.: Orris root is sweet as a result of it’s all concrete, too. I really feel like remorse smells like nicely whiskey. That’s it.

Success smells like:T.N.: Something spicy, like cinnamon, pepper, or cardamom. I feel success is being content material in your present scenario, and that jogs my memory of the sensation of being heat, cozy, and enveloped.

Okay.P.: To me, it could scent like the highest of a mountain: once you’ve made it previous the trail, and also you’ve carried out one thing that you simply’re actually pleased with. It smells a little bit foresty, possibly like Jeffrey pine or juniper, with a little bit little bit of granite, which is de facto flinty, and simply cool, crisp air. We’re all the time attempting to bottle our recollections like that and put it into our scents, and Cedar & Sagebrush smells like that type of hike within the Eastern Sierras.

The worst scent is:T.N.: Barnyard smells. I don’t like barnyard smells. Growing up exterior of L.A., there are plenty of cow farms, and I lived exterior this metropolis referred to as Norco, which is just like the horse capital of the world. The manure doesn’t hassle me a lot; it’s extra the leather-based and urine …

Okay.P.: The worst scent molecule I’ve ever smelled is civet essence. It’s extracted from the perennial gland of a civet. They do it synthetically now, but it surely’s simply so sharp and uric and disgusting. It smells like soggy litter field. It’s like decay in a scent. It’s a extremely vital and standard a part of French perfumery, the place they simply use a little bit little bit of civet to get that physique and that elevate, however once you scent it on its personal, it’s disgusting.

Your very best trip smells like:T.N.: New Mexico. There are so many great issues to expertise and scent there. There’s dry desert air, chiles airing out on the porch, juniper and sagebrush throughout, however I feel probably the most iconic New Mexican scent, which reminds us of vacationing there, is piñon logs as a result of everybody’s all the time burning them. And we truly made a perfume primarily based on this. It’s smoky, cinnamony, and it’s a little bit vanilla-y.

Your house smells like:Okay.P.: Hopefully good! That’s positively our job. We simply wrote a e book the place we break down what every room in our home smells like and the way we layer. The base layer of our home is nearly a musty, woody scent as a result of we reside in a 100-year previous craftsman. We construct off that by gravitating towards woody base notes, so we do our Moonrise diffuser and Teakwood & Tobacco diffuser, and I burn plenty of incense from Incienso de Santa Fe. I’m actually into the little paper-booklet incense from Papier d’Arménie for the lavatory, and candles are our nighttime factor. Right now, we’re burning Watermelon & Chili, which is sort of a summertime-in-a-jar scent, and a extremely vital part to all of that is opening the home windows. The recent air helps get the whole lot transferring so it’s not stale and musty, particularly in an older home.

The very first thing you scent within the morning:T.N.: We wish to sleep with our home windows open, so it’s that misty morning scent, ocean breeze, dewy grass. Over the previous month or so, plenty of the flowers are coming into bloom within the neighborhood, so I additionally scent jasmine and orange blossom.

Okay.P.: Slept-in sheets, and Tom will get up earlier than me, so I scent him making an Americano and that will get me up.

The last item you scent earlier than you bought to mattress:T.N.: Crest toothpaste. I actually just like the style and scent of it — that minty and natural, medicinal scent — far more than Colgate. But I suppose all American toothpaste is that means, versus European toothpaste that’s clove primarily based. We like mint in our mouth.

Okay.P.: Kiehl’s hand salve, which is a little bit minty, the cool night time air, and dusty e book pages, as a result of I’m all the time studying earlier than I am going to mattress.

A scent or scent you like that others often don’t:T.N.: I actually like sulfurous scents. I simply considered skunk [laughs]. Okay, I don’t like skunk, however I discover it attention-grabbing. I wouldn’t need to scent like sulfur, but it surely’s one of many issues that you simply scent — like skunk, garlic, matches — the place you’re like, I need to scent extra of this. I don’t assume they scent good, however they’re intriguing.

Okay.P.: I’d say sulfur too, as a result of I like the scent of a just-struck match. It additionally jogs my memory of this sizzling spring that we go to within the Sierras. It’s one of many issues that folks assume goes to scent unhealthy, however as a result of I’ve such good associations with it, I don’t thoughts it.

You scent like:T.N.: I’m hoping I scent good, however I suppose that’s as much as interpretation.

Okay.P.: I didn’t lay the groundwork nicely, did I?

T.N.: It’s gotten higher! I’m obsessive about this balm referred to as Solid Vibes from an organization referred to as Moon Rivers Naturals. It’s this hippie scent, kind of, but it surely smells like citrus, patchouli, and powdery chamomile. I’m very obsessive about chamomile. I like the scent of it, I like ingesting the tea, I put chamomile oil within the diffuser in our daughter’s room, so I hopefully scent like that.

Okay.P.: I feel you do. I don’t put on fragrance, so I feel I scent like my scented physique merchandise. I put on Tom’s deodorant, which is Old Spice — sharing is caring — and Weleda Skin Food. In the summer season, I change to a dry physique oil, so I scent like Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, and R+Co hair merchandise. They’re very strongly scented, however I actually like the way in which they scent; they’re very juicy and aquatic. Using these merchandise in my hair truly pushed my boundaries of the kind of merchandise that we wished to provide. Before, we have been doing plenty of woody merchandise, however I acquired adjusted to the juiciness of R+Co merchandise and began making scents like that, too.

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