By  on September 6, 2013

Simplicity is eternal.

That is the motto of fragrancedeveloper Gary McNatton, who collaborated with illustrator R. NicholsHanzlik on R. Nichols Candles, a home fragrance brand meant to evokehappiness through uncomplicated product.

“In simplicity there islongevity,” said McNatton, coproprietor of R. Nichols and the forcebehind the popular line of Gap fragrances in the Nineties, includingGrass, Heaven and Dream. “Without bells and whistles, something can havea longer life, designwise.”

McNatton said the idea for his newbusiness, which was launched in 2012 in San Francisco, began in late2011 when he was feeling the holiday blues and happened upon Hanzlik’sillustrations in a stationery store. “I started smiling, and I said‘That’s exactly what fragrance should do, it should make you happy,’”said McNatton. “A fragrance should be fun, it should be the best part ofyour business.”

For Hanzlik, R. Nichols cofounder andcoproprietor, who has spent the majority of his 17-year careerillustrating stationery and books like “French Women Don’t Get Fat,”teaming with McNatton allowed for a new means of creative expression. “Iwanted to do something that is fresh, new and fun,” said Hanzlik, whohas also designed for Fresh, Space NK and Target.

R. Nicholsmade its debut at the New York International Gift Fair in August 2012with its first range of seven candles, including Mow, the scent of afreshly cut lawn. “My favorite fragrance on the planet is the scent offresh-cut grass,” said McNatton, whose love for the aroma inspired hisGap Grass fragrance, launched in spring 1995.

McNatton, who isnot a fan of the traditional fragrance pyramid structure, said hiscandles feature a linear scent construction. “I like a fragrance tostart and end in the same place,” he said, adding that Givaudan perfumerStephen Nilsen created many of the scents.

At the 2012 GiftFair, the line was discovered by Oprah Winfrey’s team, who selected itfor her holiday “Favorite Things.” “We had to keep the brand a secretuntil Christmas,” said Hanzlik. In summer 2013, three new candles wereadded: Bloom, an interpretation of budding rose; Surf, a blend of saltair, bleached driftwood and sunshine, and Read, the scent of aged paper,ink and leather.

Beginning on Sept. 16, R. Nichols will releaseits holiday range of three winter-inspired candles, Sparkle, Glistenand Glow, as well as a Holiday Votive Trio set, priced at $68, whichincludes mini versions of all three. “I have a million ideas, but I wantto keep it tightly edited,” said Hanzlik, who plans to add a couple ofnew candles per year.

Sold in about 130 U.S. doors, primarily atBloomingdale’s, as well as select U.K. doors, R. Nichols is expanding,according to its founders. With eyes on international distribution,namely Japan and Russia, McNatton said he hopes to grow the businesssteadily, and expects to be in about 220 doors by the same time nextyear. Room sprays and body care are also being developed.

Foreach $45 soy-and-paraffin candle, McNatton and Hanzlik imagine a theme,which is then interpreted into a “paper mosaic” Hanzlik creates fromcolored construction paper, scissors and a glue stick. The image is thenturned into a decal, which is then fused onto the glass flacon. “Whenthe candle burns, they appear to glow from within,” said Hanzlik, addingthat the candles feature a more-concentrated 12 to 15 percent fragranceoil.

Although the brand would not comment on financials,industry sources expect the line to generate about $1 million from Sept.16 to the same time next year.

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