The world often wants to put people into boxes, to sift everyone into categories. It just seems easier sometimes: rich or poor. Successful or not. Worth listening to or worth tuning out. Right or wrong. Male or female. But there are people who are pushing back on those categories – people who believe that life can be richer without harshly-drawn lines. Matthew Herman of Boy Smells — a rapidly-expanding queer-owned personal fragrance and product brand — is trying to change that.
“For us, it’s just about showing up… whatever way you want to show up, it’s right,” Herman said. “And you can show up differently every single day, because you are whoever you want to be. And that’s great.”
Herman cut their teeth in the fashion world, working for innovative brands like NastyGal. When they talked about the issue of binary luxury with friend and business partner David Kien, they discovered a hole in the industry: a place where comfort was non-binary.
“We had been talking as individuals — or even men — who weren't shopping at Levi's or these kinds of more rugged, stereotypically-masculine stores,” Herman said. “We thought, ‘It’d be great to have this store with home stuff, but fashion and all sort of other things.’ And then we were [said], ‘Well, let's start with one thing. Let's just think about like candles.’”
The result was Boy Smells, a brand focused on identity, specifically its concept of genderfulness. This idea implores a new kind of consumer — namely the 18-25 set — to harness their power across the gender spectrum and oppose traditional marketing nomenclature like “genderless” or “gender-neutral.” On this episode, Matthe explains what it all means, how he worked to create this concept from his own kitchen, and what it took to ship and scale during a pandemic.
This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.