How to Smell Like a Tomboy: A Fragrance Partnership

Last month TomboyX launched their first fragrance. A spicy, subtly androgynous fragrance that is sure to be a favorite no matter where you land on the sex or gender spectrum. When we spoke to Fran Dunaway, CEO of TomboyX, she said "we didn't want anything too frilly or overly feminine. It was important for the scent to be calming and not too lingering or offensive." As TomboyX began the process of working with the parfumerie, Fran was sure to emphasize one thing she wanted to be sure that anyone could wear it, that’s it’s gender neutral. No matter where you fall on the gender spectrum."

With the perfume on sale last week we're releasing an exclusive interview with the fragrance’s designer Zara Barrie where she talks about the process of designing a fragrance for a Tomboy.

What inspired the partnership with TomboyX? Why did they strike you as a brand that had a story to tell in fragrance?

I had been stalking TomboyX on Instagram for a few months prior before even thinking of them as a fragrance with a powerful story to tell! Eventually, I did a desk-side with Fran and Naomi to learn more about the brand while I was still working at Elite Daily. I instantly connected with their definition of "Tomboy," with their mission and their product. They are trailblazers in the space, I thought to myself. I left with their press kit and went straight to dinner with my father, a longtime, gifted fragrance entrepreneur. (I come from generations of fragrance entrepreneurs. My grandfather built a fragrance empire from nothing). We both decided that TomboyX needed a fragrance because they are completely unique and they have a devoted audience that resonates with the brand on an emotional level. Mainly, we felt strongly about a TomboyX fragrance because there hasn't been a fragrance with a backstory like TomboyX ever. We always look for white noise when creating a fragrance -- we don't think it's effective (or exciting) to put our energy into something that is oversaturated and been done before. We are interested in telling new stories and uplifting new voices. My dad really saw that in their press kit and immediately asked me to set up a meeting.

At a high level, please walk us through the process of designing a fragrance. What are some important things to consider when starting out?

The most important thing when it comes to designing a fragrance is always putting the consumer first. It doesn't matter what you personally like. It doesn't matter what's trendy right now at Sephora or what mainstream magazine editors are claiming to be all the rage. You must know exactly who your consumer is, so specifically. You must know what is important to them outside of your product. What they stand for. What they value in life. You must listen to the consumer and honor what moves them at their core. In fact, having your consumer on your team is imperative. Fragrances fail when the people behind them are disconnected from the audience the fragrance hopes to serve. What's so special about TomboyX is that they have built a strong community and they listen and value and honor and are a part of that community.

In terms of the blend of elements in the TomboyX fragrance, what did you feel was important to stay away from, what did you want included?

I think because TomboyX tends to cater to people who are strong and comfortable in their own skin, toward people who are already thinking outside the traditional gender binary, it was important for the blend to be powerful, not too floral or overly apologetic or demure. So many fragrances catered to women are demure, and so many fragrances catered to men are so aggressive. Since TomboyX is about breaking those specific stereotypes it had to have elements of both while still being unique and like nothing you've ever smelled before. It had to be nuanced like its consumer. And it is!

How do you think this fragrance represents the brand? What does it say about the nature of being a tomboy?

This fragrance says that there is no perfect way to be a tomboy and that tomboy is an energy above anything else. It's not gender-specific. It's not in the way you dress. It's who you are at your core. Underwear is something you wear beneath your fashion exterior. Fragrance is how people smell you, not see you. Both are intimate, so they are in line with one another.

This fragrance is perfect for the brand because it represents the feeling of being a tomboy, not just the fashion or gender expression of being a tomboy.

What was the feeling or idea you were trying to evoke with this fragrance?

The feeling of complete and total freedom.

Now that the fragrance has come to fruition, what does the scent make you think of? Does it bring anything to mind?

It makes me as a femme-presenting tomboy feel like myself in a way that no fragrance ever has. It feels sexy in a deeply empowering way, the kind of sexy that takes control of a room and their own lives.

Is there anything else you want TomboyX customers to know about the fragrance or the process behind its creation?

There is something so visceral and emotional about this fragrance. It helps you express who you are without you having to say it out loud.