Interview with David Kien and Matthew Herman of Boy Smells

We talked to the creators of our favorite new obsession, Boy Smells Scented Candles, about how they honed their nose, what's a boy smell, and seeing shows at the Ace Hotel.

You are both from a fashion background. How did you get started with Boy Smells?

MATTHEW: We began Boy Smells at the end of 2015. Having both worked in the apparel side of fashion, we found ourselves fatigued by how much product was being made just for external appearances. Our interests shifted towards the inner experience: underwear, bedding, perfumes, furniture, scent, and candles. We refocused on creating something for our own environments. 



Your candle fragrances are quite sophisticated. Did you study aromatherapy? How did you figure out your different fragrances?

DAVID: rafting candles was the opposite of what we were doing before in our professional careers. Candles are calming and affirming and what was once a hobby has become a business. The ritual of lighting and burning a candle is woven into my daily experience so much so that we have candles in every room of the house; it’s a part of how we function. 

Matthew is the one who always had the nose. He owns a cabinet full of personal fragrances that he never wears exclusively. As in, he's combining scents from varying fragrance houses to create his own distinct smell. He's built up an understanding of which notes are complimentary and which aren't.

Why the name Boy Smells?

MATTHEW: The brand is purposely tongue and cheek. We approach candles the same way we approach all design: with a sense of humor and accessibility for everyone.

Identity is so much more layered and complex than it used to be, and scent is a landscape that can truly explore these cultural changes. There are masculine scents that our girlfriends like, and feminine scents we love. So, for us scent is gender-fluid. In fact, Boy Smells intentionally plays with the preconceptions of scent designed for gender. 

 It’s meant to be fun and irreverent, and enjoyed by all.  

The boys of Boy Smells, David Kien and Matthew Herman. Photo courtesy Boy Smells. 

The boys of Boy Smells, David Kien and Matthew Herman. Photo courtesy Boy Smells. 

Which is each of your favorite candle from your line?

DAVID: KUSH, our first concoction is still a favorite of mine and a best seller. It has notes of cannabis, suede, white musk, tulip, and amber.

MATTHEW: I am super excited about our newbie, COIN. It’s a real standout: rust, copper, saffron, and plug tobacco. It’s complex and sharp, kind of an old soul. 

What's next for Boy Smells?

DAVID: We are building a library of smells and testing them with our friends before we even consider releasing. These can be released in the form of a scented candle, but may be considered in a totally different format.

We’re New Yorkers who fantasize about being in L.A. all the time. Where are your favorite parts of L.A. and where do you like to spend your time?

MATTHEW: We live in Pico-Union, which is wedged between the ever rising Downtown and bustling Koreatown. There is an amazing Mexican spot called Happy Taco within a block, but we also do pick up from a Pho shop made by Koreans. We've seen a ridiculous number of shows at the Theater at the Ace Hotel---comedy/music/movies. It's only a seven minute Lyft ride from our home. Ultimately, we are homebodies, so we love Postmates and Apple TV.