The Local Artisans of Tobermory

Recently whilst on holiday in the Scottish Isles, besides admiring the spectacular beauty of Scotland and the Inner Hebrides, The Local Artisan Guide was lucky enough to stumble (okay we took a ferry to the Island of Mull) upon the town of Tobermory. 

The picturesque town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

The picturesque town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

Tobermory is a picturesque town on the Island of Mull (part of the Inner Hebrides) with colorful houses, restaurants and shops lined up on a marina with rolling green hills and trees all apart of an incredible vista. Tobermory Bay was originally a fishing port that has since become home to small businesses, restaurants, small hotels and artisanal shops that offer a range in products including; jewelry, chocolates, soap, pottery, cheese, leather goods, a distiller, art, local fashion, stationary, baked goods and more. 

As you get off the ferry you follow the crescent shape road known as Main Street around the marina with multicolor buildings dotting the landscape. While walking down the street and entering the various shops one observes that many of the shops not only carry local products but many of the products are produced in the shop itself. There are also many products made from local artisans near by on the island.

After exploring Main Street here are some of the highlights in Tobermory:

AN CAMUS

An Camus

An Camus

Slightly off Main Street as soon as you depart the ferry you will come upon the studio and shop of An Camus where Stuart and Helen Orr can be seen working on their glass products, knick-knacks and stationary.

The workshop of An Camus is located in the shop itself where you see many items in the process of being made.

The workshop of An Camus is located in the shop itself where you see many items in the process of being made.

An Camus offers many representations of the sea and wildlife.

An Camus offers many representations of the sea and wildlife.

Its typical to see Stuart and Helen hard at work creating their wares.

Its typical to see Stuart and Helen hard at work creating their wares.

A small example of An Camus’s beautiful glassware.

A small example of An Camus’s beautiful glassware.

ISLE OF MULL SOAP CO.

Isle of Mull Soap Co.

Isle of Mull Soap Co.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. is a quaint soap shop founded by husband and wife team Stu and Sophie who create soap inspired by the culture of Scotland and all the many natural and native ingredients you can only find in the Scottish Isles. Soaps, soap bombs, candles, bath and body, gifts and accessories can be found in this shop along with beautiful packaging and always a friendly welcome.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. has a large selection of soap and bath products.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. has a large selection of soap and bath products.

With such scents as Hot Toddy, Cinnamon & Citrus and Rose & Patchouli, shopping here makes for great souvenirs.

With such scents as Hot Toddy, Cinnamon & Citrus and Rose & Patchouli, shopping here makes for great souvenirs.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. also offers bath bombs, bath and body and great gifts to remind you of your stay in Tobermory.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. also offers bath bombs, bath and body and great gifts to remind you of your stay in Tobermory.

TOBERMORY DISTILLERY

The visitor center for Tobermory Distillery.

The visitor center for Tobermory Distillery.

Tobermory Distillery, where the magic happens.

Tobermory Distillery, where the magic happens.

Established in 1798, Tobermory Distillery is the only distillery on the Island of Mull and one of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland. The distillery is unique not only because of its picturesque location but because they offer not one but two distinctive single malts.

The shop in the visitor center of the distillery offers their entire selection of scotch and whiskey.

The shop in the visitor center of the distillery offers their entire selection of scotch and whiskey.

There is even a formal tasting room that you can make an appointment to experience.

There is even a formal tasting room that you can make an appointment to experience.

Tobermory Distillery offers more than just whiskey at the visitor center. Here you can purchase, hats, t-shirts and even soap made with whiskey!

Tobermory Distillery offers more than just whiskey at the visitor center. Here you can purchase, hats, t-shirts and even soap made with whiskey!

Is there such a thing as a “wee dram”? We think not, especially after you taste their whiskeys.

Is there such a thing as a “wee dram”? We think not, especially after you taste their whiskeys.

THE LAUNDRY

Is it a Laundry or a store? It’s both and both are well done.

Is it a Laundry or a store? It’s both and both are well done.

The Laundry is a laundry service with a twist. The twist being that The Laundry is also a boutique that offers products made from local artisans from the Isle of Mull which include fashion, handbags, gifts, candles, bedding and more.

The Laundry offers a selection of fashion, accessories and gifts made on the Isle of Mull. Oh and exceptional laundry services too.

The Laundry offers a selection of fashion, accessories and gifts made on the Isle of Mull. Oh and exceptional laundry services too.

The Laundry offers bedding, which comes in handy for all the Airbnb’s on the island.

The Laundry offers bedding, which comes in handy for all the Airbnb’s on the island.

Handbags made from local leathers are one of the key products you will find in The Laundry.

Handbags made from local leathers are one of the key products you will find in The Laundry.

ISLE OF MULL SILVER & GOLDSMITHS

You can’t miss Isle of Mull Silver & Goldsmith’s cobalt blue storefront on Main Street.

You can’t miss Isle of Mull Silver & Goldsmith’s cobalt blue storefront on Main Street.

Founded in 1975 by Phil Campbell, Isle of Mull Silver & Goldsmiths provides jewelry made by local designers and features Scottish jewelry which includes quaichs, kilt pins, cufflinks, silver spoons and more traditional and contemporary designs.

Jewelry to wear for your kilts to represent your clans is a feature at the Isle of Mull Silversmith & Goldsmiths.

Jewelry to wear for your kilts to represent your clans is a feature at the Isle of Mull Silversmith & Goldsmiths.

The shop also offers a wide selection of traditional silver spoons.

The shop also offers a wide selection of traditional silver spoons.

There is also a wide selection of traditional and contemporary jewelry designs made from local artisans.

There is also a wide selection of traditional and contemporary jewelry designs made from local artisans.

ISLAND BLUE TOBERMORY

Island Blue Tobermory is great place to shop for children’s gifts and art from local residents.

Island Blue Tobermory is great place to shop for children’s gifts and art from local residents.

Photographer Martin Guppy founded Island Blue which includes art from local artists, toys, skincare, candles, scarves, mugs and more.

Colorful mugs and coasters have imagery of the local sea and wildlife.

Colorful mugs and coasters have imagery of the local sea and wildlife.

Many scents made from local ingredients are displayed in the store.

Many scents made from local ingredients are displayed in the store.

Island Blue Tobermory offers a fun, eclectic array of souvenirs from Tobermory.

Island Blue Tobermory offers a fun, eclectic array of souvenirs from Tobermory.

Wood carvings of bird life and mugs of local cattle are a favorite at the store.

Wood carvings of bird life and mugs of local cattle are a favorite at the store.

MULL POTTERY

The welcoming storefront of Mull Pottery.

The welcoming storefront of Mull Pottery.

Mull Pottery was established over 25 years ago using their own recipe for clay ceramics. The shop also offers pottery made by skilled craftspeople including the popular and stunningly beautiful Iona Range. All pieces are handmade, making each piece unique.

The selection of mugs with abstract vistas is a popular sell at Mull Pottery.

The selection of mugs with abstract vistas is a popular sell at Mull Pottery.

Sea and wildlife imagery is a great choice for souvenir gift giving.

Sea and wildlife imagery is a great choice for souvenir gift giving.

The incredibly beautiful (and affordable) Iona Range ceramics make Mull Pottery an amazing stop on your trip to Tobermory.

The incredibly beautiful (and affordable) Iona Range ceramics make Mull Pottery an amazing stop on your trip to Tobermory.

ISLAND CRAFTS

The sea-green shop of Island Crafts.

The sea-green shop of Island Crafts.

Island Crafts Tobermory offers a wide selection of work predominately from artists living and working or with connections with the Isle of Mull.  They sell walking sticks, books, jewelry, stationary, antlers, gifts and more.

Island Crafts offer a unique selection of walking sticks made locally for that favorite of all activities in the Hebrides, walking the hills.

Island Crafts offer a unique selection of walking sticks made locally for that favorite of all activities in the Hebrides, walking the hills.

Beautiful home decor objects made from shells and pairing knives made with natural materials are show stoppers at Island Craft.

Beautiful home decor objects made from shells and pairing knives made with natural materials are show stoppers at Island Craft.

Island Craft also offers accessories, throws and caps made from wool from local sheep that help keep crafts alive and well in Tobermory.

Island Craft also offers accessories, throws and caps made from wool from local sheep that help keep crafts alive and well in Tobermory.

TOBERMORY HANDMADE CHOCOLATE

Just look for the chocolate colored building for Tobermory Handmade Chocolate.

Just look for the chocolate colored building for Tobermory Handmade Chocolate.

Founded in 1991 by husband and wife team Keith and Rhoda, Tobermory Handmade Chocolate offers artisan handmade chocolate with a variety of flavors native to Scotland and the Scottish Isles along with more traditional chocolates. There is also a cozy cafe and well stocked gift shop that offers more than local chocolates to take home.

The shop at Tobermory Handmade Chocolate offers an array of gift giving besides chocolate.

The shop at Tobermory Handmade Chocolate offers an array of gift giving besides chocolate.

Lots of home decor items available at the shop.

Lots of home decor items available at the shop.

Besides being able to buy their chocolates, there is a cozy cafe to settle in and taste and drink all Tobermory Handmade Chocolate has to offer.

Besides being able to buy their chocolates, there is a cozy cafe to settle in and taste and drink all Tobermory Handmade Chocolate has to offer.

Walking down Main Street in Tobermory will have you experiencing more than artisanal shops. There is a multitude of restaurants, bars, churches and more to explore. Then when you are done exploring Tobermory, feel free to travel throughout the Isle of Mull and find even more local artisans honing crafts passed down to them from generations of living in the Scottish Isles.

Can’t miss The Tobermory Hotel in all its pink glory!

Can’t miss The Tobermory Hotel in all its pink glory!

Arnos Hall is community owned facility that hosts events and markets all year round.

Arnos Hall is community owned facility that hosts events and markets all year round.

This former Gothic church is now home to a gallery for local souvenirs and a popular cafe for both locals and visitors alike.

This former Gothic church is now home to a gallery for local souvenirs and a popular cafe for both locals and visitors alike.

It is easy to understand how these vistas inspired so many beautiful depictions in the souvenir shops in Tobermory.

It is easy to understand how these vistas inspired so many beautiful depictions in the souvenir shops in Tobermory.

By Natalie Rivera






Bleek Street No More

In the summer of 2017 The Local Artisan Guide wrote a blog on the sad state of Bleecker Street. With its high rate of empty store fronts, Bleecker Street was starting to look more and more like a street in the mid-west rust belt. Retailers both local and national were abandoning their shops due to astronomical rent increases while landlords were fine with waiting out for tenants that could afford high rents. A few national beauty brands were moving in such as Aesop and The Organic Pharmacy, but in general walking down Bleecker Street seemed quite bleak. 

Fast forward to early 2019 where walking down Bleecker Street is now a more positive experience. Rents have started to come down however there are still multiple shops that are empty. Unfortunately stores are still closing (Sunni Spencer just shut down) but a few new brands are opening up under the revitalization project “Love, Bleecker.”

Still many empty storefronts dot Bleecker Street.

Still many empty storefronts dot Bleecker Street.

“Love, Bleecker” is a collaboration between Skylight and Brookfield Properties, created to breathe back some life into Bleecker Street. “Love, Bleecker” has acquired four storefronts to introduce four online brands who never had a brick and mortar presence. The four brands are couture retailers Prabal Gurung, men’s leather good brand Slightly Alabama, cashmere brand Lingua Franca and plant based bodega with floral collab Bonberi & Fleurotica

Along with the storefronts “Love, Bleecker” will also introduce art installations, music and more interactive community events in collaboration with the shops. 

#lovebleecker

#lovebleecker

“Love, Bleecker” paired each shop with an artist to have fashion and art play off each other. For Slightly Alabama they paired artist Chelsea Hryrick Browne, who created an installation of intricately hand-cut paper designs that will be displayed in the shop’s windows for 6 months. Her designs, which are layers of hand-cut paper create the illusion of an abstract painting.

Slightly Alabama and artist Chelsea Hrynick Browne collaboration.

Slightly Alabama and artist Chelsea Hrynick Browne collaboration.

Prabal Gurung was paired with Edward Ross who crafted a glass sculptural lighting installation which will live in the space for the year.

Prabal Gurung and Edward Ross collaboration.

Prabal Gurung and Edward Ross collaboration.

Lingua Franca was partnered with artist Ashley Longshore who made a very colorful and glittery painting of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Lingua Franca and Ashley Longshore collaboration.

Lingua Franca and Ashley Longshore collaboration.

Bonberi & Fleurotica have been paired with Signe Pierce who created floral and neon illuminated sculptures. 

Bonberi & Fleurotica collaboration with Signe Pierce.

Bonberi & Fleurotica collaboration with Signe Pierce.

Besides “Love, Bleecker” there have been multiple store openings of brands that have not had brick and mortar stores including; TDE (The Daily Edit), Kilona, St.Frank, Naadam, Margaux, Hill House Home and gold no.8 to name a few. Some pop up shops have opened up indefinitely such as Netluxe, The Citizenry Bunkhouse, Buckberry, Quaker Marine Supply and Greyers. Other more established brands have opened up new locations on Bleecker Street, which include Faherty, Buck Mason, Jay Kos and Marine Layer making Bleecker Street an up and coming men’s fashion destination.

Welcome to Bleecker Street! New brands are popping up along the way.

Welcome to Bleecker Street! New brands are popping up along the way.

So in the end, just walk down Bleecker Street, enjoy the new brands, art and events and remember at the end of the road there is thankfully Magnolia Bakery.

By Natalie Rivera

Artisanal Toy Shops in NYC

Let’s face it, Christmas and the holidays are for the kids. Your child or the children of your friends and relatives may have been giving hints to you and Santa all year on what they want for Christmas however I am willing to bet there is a lot of plastic and commercialism in the toys that they desire. It is up to you as an adult of taste, style and global knowledge to help expose the children in your life to quality, artisanal toys that feed their imagination, educate and give back to the world.

The Local Artisan Guide has a few toy stores that are near and dear to our hearts and bring out the inner child in us. When an adult loves exploring a toy store, you know you have found someplace special to share with the kiddos.

Below are a few toy stores in New York City that not only make excellent holiday gift giving for children but are a great place to bring them to let them explore on their own and see how amazing an artisan toy can be which helps foster a socially conscious and more evolved child.

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PLAYING MANTIS - 32 N Moore St., Tribeca, NYC

Playing Mantis is one of those rare throwback toy stores that keep the plastic to a minimum. The shop is full of handcrafted toys made from wood and recycled materials to help inspire kids imagination sans batteries. The back of the store has mini costumes of characters you would find in storybooks and there is a carefully curated library of stories from cultures around the world. Its one of the most eco-friendly toy shops around and will help inspire any child’s imagination.

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TEICH TOYS & BOOKS - 573 Hudson St., West Village, NYC

As you enter the vintage circus store theme, Teich Toys & Books offers children a wide selection of classic and hand-crafted toys and books to inspire and engage their minds. There is lack of plastic and noisy gadgets at Teich replaced by hard to find children’s books with occasional live puppet shows and regular story times.

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KIDDING AROUND - 60 West 15th St., Chelsea, NYC

Kidding Around is a renowned children’s store that has a reputation of one of the best Indie toy stores in New York City. They offer an array of eclectic toys, dolls, and games chosen for their capacity to inspire creativity. The shelves are lined with starter chess sets, science kits, and board games. A plus is the friendly, knowledgeable staff that can help guide you to the perfect gift.

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DINOSAUR HILL - 306 East 9th St., East Village, NYC

Dinosaur Hill is committed to purveying handmade wonderments, toys and clothes that challenge the mind, please the eye, and stimulate the senses. The store is a colorful explosion of toys, reeking of old-school charm and focusing more on character than commercialism with its beautifully made toys meant to last. Their artisanal puppets from around the world are a special attraction at the shop.

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MINI JAKE - 178 North 9th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC

Mini Jake is a modern children's and baby's store, featuring furniture, toys, strollers, clothes, sleepwear, cribs, bedding, diaper bags, mattresses, bassinets and much more. The store is a big draw for the hipster parent that values modern, educational safe, sophisticated and educational toys that the kids will love.

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NORMAN & JULES - 158 7th Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215

This colorful, neat thoughtfully laid out toy store displays a carefully edited collection of well made, beautifully designed, and thoughtful items – while remaining environmentally and socially conscious. Norman & Jules is for the parent who wants to help foster their child’s love of organic, environmentally friendly and sustainable toys.

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FAO SCHWARZ - 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown, NYC

It wouldn’t be a New York City toy shopping guide without the toy store giant FAO Schwarz. Established in 1862, this New York institution just recently reopened their flagship store in Rockefeller Center where it is continuing their tradition of being the world’s most iconic toy store. FAO Schwarz offers a larger than life offering of every type of toy, game, dolls, cars, educational toys and more. It is definitely worth it for the experience (however the multitude of tourists is a little off putting).

These are our top recommendations and are great destinations if you want to raise or expose a child to a more socially conscious, evolved, eco-friendly and sustainable childhood.

By Natalie Rivera





Olfactory Experiences in NYC

Once on a date with a fairly new boyfriend a few years ago my new beau presented me with a beautifully wrapped package. As I tore into my unexpected gift I uncovered to my dismay a fancy bottle of perfume. I was quite frankly a little insulted. “Is he having a problem with the way I smell?” immediately went through my mind. He sensed my reaction and tried to put me at ease by saying he was gifting me the perfume because the scent I was wearing reminded him too much of an ex-girlfriend he would prefer to forget. He gave me a very expensive bottle of perfume that at the time I had never heard of, Annick Goutal’s Eau’d Hadrien (yes my new beau was loaded). I was ignorant at the time of the great gift he had given me, obviously he thought if he was going to ask me to change my scent it would be less offensive if the perfume was one of the world’s most expensive at the time. Since our sense of smell is the sense that brings a memory back the most vividly, I didn’t want him remembering his ex when we were together so I gave up my mixture of Issey Miyake’s L'eau d’Issey with a base of Fresh’s Milk Body Lotion (now discontinued) and started wearing the Eau’d Hadrien

I was not exactly thrilled about this because my signature scent of L’eau d’Issey and Fresh’s Milk Lotion was my calling card at the time, one that had strangers telling me how wonderful I smelled. The Eau’d Hadrien did not mix well with my skin chemistry, it smelled like bug spray when it hit my skin so after awhile I just went without scent. My new boyfriend turned out to be a playboy and we broke up so I gave the bottle of Eau’d Hadrien to a friend of mine and she smelled like a lovely citrus and orange grove the moment it hit her skin (which I believed is what you ideally smell like when you use Eau’d Hadrien). 

Once you find a perfume, fragrance or cologne you love, you claim it as your own and state to the world, “this is my signature scent!”. Well that is fine but for the last few decades there is a great chance that many people around you are shopping around the same places to buy their scents (department stores, Sephora, airport duty free shops) so as you walk into a crowded room don’t be too surprised if your scent is not as original as you think it is. 

That is why I recommend you start looking off the beaten path for a scent that is your’s truly and also offers an olfactory experience when seeking it out. 

In the last few years there have been a few brands both old and new that have created a magical, lovely and at times a bespoke experience when seeking out your signature scent. Many of these brands have gone back in time to how fragrances were created hundreds of years ago and have followed the model of the apothecary. Some brands have gone into the future and have reinvented fragrances by creating them to recall olfactory experiences from around the world that are more unisex in nature. 

Here are a few picks of artisanal brands and olfactory destinations located in New York City but available world wide that are making it easier to truly find a signature scent that you can feel quite confident no one else in the room is going to be wearing.

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Aedes Perfumery - 16A Orchard St., Lower East Side, NYC

On the cusp of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, as you walk down gritty Orchard Street with its small contemporary art galleries and fashion forward independent brands there you will find Aedes Perfumery. The shop is petite, dark and romantic. You almost feel trepidatious by entering but once you do you enter you are immediately enveloped into Aedes’s world of highly curative perfumes from over 75 small independent brands all over the world. Their excellent staff is trained to educate their customer on different olfactive groups and let you explore their scents and what works for you. Aedes also has their own perfume, AEDES DE VENUSTAS. Housed in aubergine glass that is baroque yet futuristic, AEDED DE VENUSTAS offers nine very different scents and experiences, it is definitely a boutique you can lose a whole afternoon in. They also offer candles and home fragrances which make for unique gift giving.

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Claus Porto - 230 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

In neighboring Nolita, the neighborhood has lately become a destination for artisanal perfume and fragrance brands lining the small streets along with other high-end independent boutiques. One of the latest brands to join this unique enclave is Claus Porto. Just entering the shop is an experience in itself with a 42 ft long archway made entirely from Portuguese cork, which visitors can step into and admire Claus Porto’s signature products. The brand is over 130 years old and stems from Portugal and built its name on hand-crafted, artisan fragrances which draw on ingredients from Portugal’s lush countryside. All the artwork is from their decades old archives and besides fragrances you can find soaps, candles, diffusers, bath and body and stationary, all which make for perfect gifts.

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Olfactory NYC - 281 Mott St., Nolita, NYC

Its easy to step into Olfactory from the outside as the boutique is an explosion of all the colors of the rainbow. That is when the Olfactory adventure just begins. The friendly staff will guide you into their process for creating your very own perfume. First you will explore their core scents that  are created using the finest and natural and sustainable ingredients. Second you will explore different variations of your core scent by adding accords that help enhance and customize the scent. Third you will chose the color of your of your bottle and help personalize it and like magic you have your very own custom scent! A plus is that the ingredients are vegan, organic, sustainable sourced, Phthalate And Paraben Free and the packaging is sourced locally. Scented candles, body lotions, body wash and gifts are also available so you can shop for yourself and your loved ones in a sustainable manner.

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Le Labo - 233 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

Is a perfume brand founded in New York City in 2006 and has a mission to customize your scent with a made-to-order bottle to ensure the freshest fragrance at the time of purchase. Created in collaboration with the world’s top perfumers and using only the highest-quality essential oils, Le Labo creates scents that are vegan and cruelty free. The brand’s fragrances, hand-dipped candles, and body products are designed to enrich the senses. Once you select your scent they will freshly blend your bottle and then personalize and engrave your bottle for you. There are also grooming, hair, body, home accessories and an eclectic set of oddities available at this rustic and earthy shop that helps ensure you are creating a unique experience for yourself. 

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Atelier Colognes - 247 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

When Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter first met, little did they know that their love for cologne and scents would spur a brand that is dedicated entirely to cologne. Hence Atelier Cologne was created so colognes could be worn as pure perfumes. With six olfactory groups they have created over 38 scents that range from flowery scents to nights full of the essence of tobacco. All made in France using ingredients native to France. Atelier Cologne products are with 0% paraben, paraffinum liquidum, GMO, animal derived ingredients, colorants, sulfates and made by artisans and craftsmen. Their charming boutique also offers candles, bath and both, travel sizes and gift sets. 

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Malin+Goetz - 235 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

Malin+Goetz is a skincare brand that operates like an apothecary using the simplest ingredients to provide a healthy product for your skin. They have a curated collection of fine fragrances, each inspired by a traditional perfumery ingredient with a modern interpretation and are perfect unisex scents. The shop shares its owners spare, less is more philosophy with clean minimal lines that is reflected in its packaging. The brand also offers besides skin and fragrances, candles, hair, body products, soap, beauty and gifts.

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Deceim/Avestan - 26 Prince St., Nolita, NYC

Deceim, the beauty brand that has been revolutionizing the beauty world has created a brand of unisex perfumes and fragrances called Avestan. And just like Deceim has brought new concepts to beauty, Avestan has brought new concepts to fragrances by focusing on experiences and scents that bring back memories from world travels. Wonder what an aromatic visualisation of firewood near a tent in Tanzania smells like? Or what the inside of a violin atelier smells like? The smell of copper in a Budapest architecture? Well with Avestan you will be privy to these unisex fragrances that work with the magic of olfactory memory. Currently they have over 15 scents that all included besides fragrances, candles, body and hair products. 

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Santa Maria Novella - 285 Lafayette St., Nolita, NYC

Santa Maria Novella is a apothecary brand from Florence, Italy that can trace the beginnings of its formulation from 1221 with the official pharmacy opening in 1612. Thus the Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Perfume and Pharmaceutical Oficine of Holy Mary Novella) was born with an emblematic name that gave precedence to perfume or the ephemeral rather than the curative aspect of more spiritual inspiration, the medicinal or pharmaceutical. They catered to royalty, nobles and merchants worldwide and today Santa Maria Novella offers a multitude of aromatic waters, colognes, candles, home accessories for both men and women (even pets). Its a brand draped in history and with a staff that is more than happy to help explain the centuries old formulas that have been past down the ages.

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MiN NY - 117 Crosby St., Soho, NYC

MiN NY is a fragrance brand that operates on a conceptual philosophy of our definition of what constitutes a fragrance. Set in Soho’s Cast Iron District, MiN NY have created over 17 fragrance with such names and experiences as “Shaman” for mystical time travelers, “Moondust” because the moon it is said the moon smells of gunpowder after a desert rain. “Old School Bench” to bring back memories of pencil shavings and vintage desks. The brand also offers candles, haircare, gifts, eyewear and a highly curated selection of artisanal perfume brands from around the world.

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Fueguia - 21 Crosby St., Soho, NYC

Fueguia is an Argentinian sustainable perfume brand that uses only certain natural ingredients, being often very unique and used for the first time in perfumery. These ingredients being used in perfumery are also a great challenge due to the fact that climate change affects the availability, quality and prices of the different botanical species. Because of the scarcity of these ingredients, Fueguia 1833 produces only limited series of fragrances, using the finest natural ingredients available at the time of production. Each bottle shows the year and the lot number of the fragrance that is enclosed – a progressive number from 1 to 400 being engraved on a crystal bottle of each perfume. The boutiques are dark with well crafted vitrines highlighting the scents and adding to the luxurious and unique event of sampling the limited edition fragrances.

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Marianell Soap Bar and Spa - 102 Thompson St., Soho, NYC

Marianella Soap Bar is the brainchild and passion project of mother and son team Marianella and David Foote who recreate the soaps and scents of Marianella’s nostalgic travels and her Venezuelan childhood spent making soaps and beauty products by hand in her grandmother’s kitchen. The fragrances and soaps makes the most luxurious one of a kind bath and body products with no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, No Parabens, No Harsh Chemicals and No Animal Testing, all made in the U.S.A. Their beautiful, light, airy and cheerful shop features their custom fragrances, soaps, beauty, bath and body, home fragrances and gift sets (they just started a monthly subscription box). 

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The Scentarium - 85 Franklin St., Tribeca, NYC

The Scentarium is by appointment only and once there, its owner Sue Phillips will help you create a bespoke signature fragrance that captures the essence of you and gives you a custom perfume to wear and cherish. Whether its just you or a party of 50, Sue Phillips will educate you on perfumery and help you decide what is right for you by introducing you to groups of scents and then mixing and matching to get the unique scent that you desire. Sue also offers her own scents that she has created throughout the years.

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Bond No. 9 New York - 9 Bond St., Noho, NYC

Bond No. 9 New York is the first American parfumerie to be headed by a woman, Laurice Rahmé, who gives homage to New York City by giving every New York neighborhood a scent of its own. The brand is very civic minded, campaigning for and spreading peace internationally and raising funds for the cause via their universally loved “Scent of Peace”. The store itself is a Alice in Wonderland experience that will have you browsing through the city via your olfactory senses. 

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Kilian - 946 Madison Ave., Upper East Side, NYC

Founded by Kilian Hennessy, Kilian is a luxury perfume brand that seeks to create perfume the way it was made in the late 19th and the early 20th century, but adding a contemporary twist at the same time. Kilian’s concept of their “eco-luxe” philosophy that each bottle can be refilled and kept for a lifetime help put them on the map worldwide. There are over 35 scents in the collection, each telling a story with names like “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”,  and “In the Garden of Good & Evil”, every scent evokes ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury.

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Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, 898 Madison Ave., Upper East Side, NYC.

Think of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle as a publishing house for the industry’s very best Perfume Designers. As their editor, Frédéric Malle guides them individually through their creative process to ensure that they are always transcending their limits. Together they create works of art that will be the perfume classics of tomorrow. With a team of 13 perfume designers, the shop resembles an elegant home, a contemporary interpretation of a 1930s Parisian apartment with the clinical design of a fragrance laboratory. There are celebrated features including Frédéric Malle’s own signature smelling columns and refrigerated perfume cabinets. Besides helping educate the customer on olfactory elements, there are limited editions, candles, home scents, beauty and gifts. 


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Twisted Lily - 360 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NYC

Twisted Lily is a unique fragrance boutique and apothecary featuring hard to find niche, indie and natural fragrances from all over the world. This Brooklyn bright and cheery boutique curates fragrances that are created from just a few blocks away to the far side of the globe. Twisted Lily also features modern apothecary products such as skincare, grooming and beauty lines. 

So there is a small sample of olfactory experiences in New York City. There are also a few honorable mentions such as Alchemlogie, Joya, Annick Goutal and more.

Besides finding your signature scent, all the brands mentioned are perfect destinations for thoughtful, unique, beautiful gift giving for the holidays.

I am now confident when I walk into a room that my scent is as personal and unique to me as my fingerprint. I will not reveal the brand or formulation I chose because this is truly “my signature scent”. My fragrance will forever bring up vivid memories of just..me.

By Natalie Rivera