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I have never been one with a “signature” anything. Whether it be a hairstyle, lip gloss, or scent, I’ve never felt my identity encapsulated enough by a material thing that I’ve opted to make it mine. I prefer keeping an eye on what’s new and clean in the beauty space -- and taking a few carefully-selected picks for a test spin each season.
While the hair and makeup industries have marketed themselves as fair game for explorers like me, the fragrance world has always felt closer to one of those giant, plush obstacle courses that twirls you around, then launches you into a sinking sand pit on live TV. It’s a space that’s snobby and difficult to navigate -- so much so that I’ve felt content excluding it from my routine entirely -- until now, thanks to Snif, the new direct-to-consumer fragrance company breaking all the rules.
Out With The Old…
Traditionally, fragrances have been crafted by a small and elite group of master perfumers four to five steps away from their shoppers, Bryan Edwards explains to me while on a Google Hangout with his Snif co-founder Phil Riportella. Neither Edwards nor Riportella comes from a beauty background, which is, in a way, the secret sauce to their fragrance concept, Snif. As non-industry people, Edwards and Riportella are uniquely positioned to relate to a demographic of shoppers that has felt excluded from the traditional fragrance experience.
Over the past two years, they’ve built a partnership that allows a 150-year-old heritage fragrance house to handle the perfuming -- while they break just about every rule of fragrance’s old guard. Edwards and Riportella have an obvious respect for the art of fragrance (“This is not Bryan and I in our bathtubs creating potions,” Riportella jokes) but feel comfortable poking fun at the awful experience buying it: the pushy salespeople, decision fatigue, and jargon-laden labels, to name a few. “Fragrance was outdated,” Riportella explains -- and Snif is bringing it up with the times.
Zero Dollars, Three Scents
Everything about Snif feels new and, frankly, smart. The concept works like this: Edwards and Riportella work with world class perfumers to draft a preliminary lineup of genderless, clean, “easy-to-like” seasonal scents. Then, they present them to their Scent Board, a group of other non-industry, highly-tasteful individuals for feedback and refinement. Together they lock in their scents, which they drop with cheeky names and absolutely no descriptions on their website each quarter (they’ve only dropped Ex On The Beach, Salty Stares, and Way With Woods so far).
To smell each fragrance, you can order a Snif Bundle Kit straight to your door, free of charge. Each Kit comes with three full-sized (30 ml) bottles of the drop’s scents, plus three small (2 ml) samples to match. Snif gives you a week to take those samples for as many test spins as you’d like before deciding what’s for you and what isn’t. You can keep all three scents for $150 or pay $65 per bottle if you only like one or two. Whatever you don’t like, you can return -- completely free.
A Crazy Concept… That Works
For whatever reason (perhaps the cheeky marketing? sleek packaging?), my gut told me to trust Snif as soon as I laid eyes on the brand. But, I also imagined a fragrance company selling descriptionless, genderless fragrances over the internet would get some pushback. I asked Edwards and Riportella about this break with tradition and its reception: “People thought we were crazy--” Riportella begins, before Edwards interrupts him to clarify: “They still do.”
Snif’s try-before-you-buy model was designed so that shoppers can focus on the actual scents (in their own environment, without external factors) rather than the labels that dress them. It also helps that Snif has pretty much eliminated risk completely -- there’s no cost in trying the fragrances, whether or not you like them.
But, a lot of thought has gone into making these decisions. For one, guiding shoppers with labels and marketing can be risky in and of itself. Fragrance smells different to everyone -- and being overly descriptive with labels suggesting notes of “Italian mandarin” isn’t actually all that helpful, especially for a demographic who admits to being largely clueless about fragrance. Additionally, gendered products appear to be phasing out of the beauty space as a whole, so creating genderless scents, while a departure from traditional fragrance norms, didn’t exactly feel revolutionary for a modern company (“I don’t want to call this a trend… it’s just here,” Riportella explains). Snif’s try-before-you-buy model was designed so that shoppers can focus on the actual scents (in their own environment, without external factors) rather than the labels that dress them. It also helps that Snif has pretty much eliminated risk completely -- there’s no cost in trying the fragrances, whether or not you like them.
And so far, put simply, “it’s working.” Many shoppers are opting to keep all three bottles of Snif’s first drop: “Some people have reached out saying they love one or two, their partner loves the third, so they’re keeping all three,” Riportella explains. And Edwards happily reports that even a few shoppers who haven’t loved Snif’s first batch of scents have contacted Snif to express their excitement over the brand experience from shopping online and fulfillment to unboxing and return: “It’s a testament to what we’ve built the brand on.”
I recently got my hands on Snif’s first Bundle Kit and have spent the better part of the last week fangirling over their first three scents: Salty Stares, Ex On The Beach, and Way With Woods. In keeping with Snif’s ethos, I won’t attempt to describe what each scent smells like, but I will say that trying to pick a favorite is how I imagine a parent feels when asked to choose a favorite child -- it’s just not like that. Some (Way With Woods) may be easier to wear everyday than others (Salty Stares), but each is easy on the nose, versatile-yet-unique, obviously high-quality, and lasts all day.
It’s clear that Snif has paid their commitment to creating easy-to-like scents a lot of attention. My first indication? The fact that every member of my family has swung by for a spritz since my box arrived. Whatever your style or mood, I imagine there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself drawn to at least one bottle living inside Snif’s ultra-chic first box, too. And if you’re not, standby: Edwards and Riportella are committed to learning and growing with their customers, so their next drop may just be for you.
Snif’s first Bundle Kit is so exquisite, I’d feel confident pre-ordering whatever the brand decides to drop next without knowing a thing about it.
Snif’s first Bundle Kit is so exquisite, I’d feel confident pre-ordering whatever the brand decides to drop next without knowing a thing about it. At just a few weeks old, the brand already feels like a big success. I can’t say I’m surprised: with impeccable branding, a seamless shopping experience, and a product of this quality, there’s a lot to love about it. What’s more is that Snif is more than just a product -- it’s an entire experience, and an intoxicating one at that. I’m thrilled to enter the wonderful world of fragrance with Snif: it feels good to finally be here -- and it smells even better.
5 More Things To Love About Snif:
- Each scent is crafted with the industry’s highest clean standards.
- They were crafted by a 150-year-old heritage fragrance house.
- Everything about the brand is relatable and non-intimidating, a huge departure from traditional fragrances.
- If you keep all 3 scents in your bundle, you’ll save $45.
- Your 7-day trial period is completely free.