Nestled on an unassuming Brooklyn street, a chic fragrance studio hides a fully functioning factory.
That studio is Joya — conveniently located at 19 Vanderbilt Avenue in the crosshairs of Fulton, Williamsburg and DUMBO in Clinton Hill. Part fragrance studio, part design collective, Joya is the brainchild to founder Frederick Bouchardy. While the company has been retailing mostly candles since 2006, it has opened its first flagship door and will offer, for the first time, tours, workshops, salons, master classes with visiting perfumers and art installations.
Vaunting a roster of indie and mainstream clients including Opening Ceremony, Malin + Goetz, Barneys New York and Marriott Hotels, the bespoke fragrance atelier aims to illustrate a radical community engagement initiative.
“I’m totally OK with making this a complete destination where people think, ‘I’m going to Brooklyn and I’m going to eat this brunch and then I’m going to go make this artisan candle or take a warehouse tour and then go buy some antiques,” Bouchardy said.
While he declined to provide figures, industry sources estimate the buildout of the 10,000 square foot studio in Clinton Hill cost approximately $500,000.
“I know that this is a destination and we’re going to have to give people all these different options. That’s why we’re doing the events and the workshops — to give people a reason to be here.” Bouchardy further explains his goals to include workshops and classes to extend beyond profit, but remove the veiled curtain in the industry to showcase the artisanship of the company’s work.
Joya, the Spanish word for jewel, began as a modest concept — to launch a line of scented candles in a department store. Now, the company is a staple in the candle arena. In addition to its own line of Joya products, it develops bespoke scents to nearly 100 clients, which include clothing retailers, department stores, hotels and private clients. Its distribution list falls short of around 200 retailers worldwide.
In terms of pricing for the vast array of projects the company takes on, private clients interested in custom work can expect to pay $300 and up, new development of a scent for a brand starts at $2,000 and corporate clients are lucky enough to have Joya absorb the development costs — for good reason. Bouchardy estimates that hospitality clients can generate in the neighborhood of $1 million in the next year.
“Our offering is quiet niche. We don’t distribute it a lot on purpose because I want to grow something for the long term,” Bouchardy said. “Fragrances are so personal. You need to give it time for people to adopt it as their thing. If you distribute it everywhere, it’s kind of tricky to make people feel special about it. At the same time, we have a strong industrial part of our business that lets us play.”
And play they shall. The new space is a 19th century converted garage, where the locally sourced products are developed from conception to distribution. Bouchardy approached architecture firm Taylor and Miller to design retail space within the context of their production facility. The result is gritty industrial meets futuristic minimalism. Upon entering the space, a 1,000-square-foot gallery, comprised of a series of large floating steel and wood veneer surfaces suspended by steel rods from the factory ceiling, showcase both in-house and collaborative offerings.
Broken down into Joya’s own core collections and coveted limited editions; shop-exclusive fragrances and innovations, and lifestyle products from around the world that complement the brand vision, the experience is meant to hover between the contexts of consumption and production. Bouchardy believes that these two environments have been too often ripped apart for the sake of protecting the sanctity of the antiseptic and heavily branded retail store. The gallery’s decor is fabricated in the U.S.
“The basic concept in a way represents what we do — it’s the cast/mold relationship. The shelves are holding the thing that’s precious and pretty. One side is refined and perfect and the other side is industrial and rough. We left everything exposed — the conduit, the lighting because this is the other side of our business and it’s pretty beautiful. It’s an exploration of materials and texture. It’s a really pretty way to show stuff. It’s meant to be more of a galley than just a regular shop. We could have just easily taken old furniture and setup shop here. We didn’t want there to be a separation between retail and manufacturing.”
A few of the offerings available at the studio include a candle taper made in Africa by a women’s collective at $4, an Oliver Ruuger “In Girum” art print at $250, an artist series Snarkitecture candle at $120 and Joya’s signature hand-poured candle in slip cast porcelain vessel with 22k gold rim at $78.
“We have a candle downstairs that is priced $450 and then we have others that are $28. We have a different idea on luxury and we’re not trying to create a luxury brand — trying to create a design studio that has different, diverse price points — some that are accessible and some that hurt a little.”
Regarding plans to expand his diverse fragrance atelier, Bouchardy takes a 180 and reveals it to be in “not cool” Columbus Circle. He explains his decision to be quite simple: He either wants to be a destination or right in the thick of it all.
“I don’t want to be in a cool place. We have enough cool design partners and retailers. We’re good with cool. We either want destination or traffic. Nothing in-between.”
He expects to launch his next venture sometime in 2016.
“We experienced approximately 25 percent growth from 2014 to 2015 and are looking to double revenue this year with the launch of our studio space, which represents a stronger way to communicate in retail,” Bouchardy said. He declined to elaborate on the sales figures.
The Clinton Hill studio will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with special hours for workshops, tours, bespoke design consultations and events.