Hawthorne and Mission Chinese Food chef and founder Danny Bowien have teamed to create Botanic and Woody, a floral-based men’s scent retailing for $60 and available for a one-month period at hawthorne.co/danny.
Developed by perfumer Olivier Gillotin, the bespoke scent is composed of ingredients such as floral North African blue chamomile, ambrette, rose, leathery saffron, organic ylang-ylang from Madagascar, Haitian vetiver and Moroccan cedarwood.
Hawthorne founders Phillip Wong and Brian Jeong wanted to challenge the perception of floral fragrances not being considered masculine. “Florals are a common category for fragrances,” Wong said. “We felt that looking at it from a new, different transformative lens and using ingredients that are familiar — like suede for instance — translating this idea of the floral category in a new dynamic way, just matched up with Danny.”
Bowien, who launched Mission Chinese in 2012 in New York City, was a natural fit for the collaboration because of his use of florals in his dishes. “In traditional Szechuan food, when would you ever see Mastorian flowers sitting in tofu,” Jeong said.
“This particular scent that we were thinking of had been in the pipeline for a while and we felt it was apropos for this floral, dynamic, bright scent to be paired with a chef,” Wong explained. “Just thinking about Danny and his approach to cooking is this explosive, dynamic, fun way of using familiar ingredients, translating them in a new voice, new direction, new image, we felt that was pretty synonymous with this Botanic and Woody scent.”
Hawthorne launched with fragrances in September 2016 before expanding to personal-care products such as deodorants, body washes and bar soaps. The brand, according to Wong, does “all this guesswork for you” through a quiz that asks about one’s preferences between soap and body wash, types of deodorants and fragrances, as well as personality traits, preferred evening plans and work settings. After the quiz, a deodorant, bar soap, body wash and ‘work’ and ‘play’ colognes are offered, ranging in price from $15 to $100.
According to Jeong, the quiz is 97 percent accurate, customers buy an average of three items and they have seen “less than 1 percent return on the first purchase. About 80 percent of their customers are in their 20s and 30s.
“Growing up, we were always interested in fashion and grooming and fragrances, and we wanted to reinvent and take a modern look,” said Jeong. “We basically started thinking, could we make a new experience that makes [fragrance] really accessible to all different types of people?”
Part of the accessibility is the price point. “The first thing everyone knows about fragrances is that it has ridiculously high margins,” said Jeong, “and we basically said let’s take those margins and invest it back in the product.” Hawthorne keeps its prices low by focusing on its fragrances and formulas and designing minimal packaging.
“Our bottles are pretty simple,” said Jeong. “We don’t spend a lot of money on bottle shape, keep it clean, keep it simple like a blank canvas, spend on what’s inside, the things that you’re actually using. We know that today’s consumer no longer relies on price point to understand what is premium or luxury. They look to brand, quality, and experience. Thus, we choose to price our products accessibly and not as a niche product.”