In recent years, a handful of Texans have entered the mass-market perfume industry by establishing independent perfume houses. These small companies, spread across the state, create bold scents inspired by everything from the Southwest to ’90s TV shows.
Co-founder Dennon Couron launched Boyd’s of Texas in 2016 as a beauty-
specialty retailer, but when he learned that customers loved his bar soaps primarily because of their scent, he changed his mind. The company was relaunched about a year later as an independent fragrance house, now based out of a Southtown studio in San Antonio. Boyd’s produces unisex eau de parfums based on natural essences that pay homage to the state; Yellow Rose, for example, combines Egyptian rose with Texas cedar. “A vast majority of popular US-based indie fragrances really fall into one of two categories: LA and New York,” Couron says. “There was an opportunity to get known as a third-wave perfume brand, to be a legend in the Southwest.”
Former music teacher Chavalia Dunlap-Mwamba launched her first perfume line in 2011, making her one of the first black perfumers in Texas. Among the most popular Pink MahogHany options she creates in her Longview studio is Not Yet Named, a blend of ripened pineapple and vanilla. “I think of perfumes as art,” she says. “When we buy art, we take the time to make sure it fits our aesthetic and the vibe we’re going for.”
Since leaving her advertising career in 2015 to design fragrances full-time, Claire Baxter has produced hundreds of fragrances. She is influenced by the literature and lore surrounding the Salem witch trials, which began in 1692 (hence the name of her society). Baxter’s Halloween collections are selling particularly well: this year it has designed five offerings inspired by the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Everyone has that memory of perfume, that one thing they smell that carries them,” Baxter says. “It’s the closest thing to magic people can experience.”
This article was originally published in the month of October 2022 of Texas monthlywith the title “On the nose”.Subscribe today.