The Magical Journey of Experiencing the World through Scents – Hudson Valley Perfumer + Sommelier Kelly Jones – Interview by Naomi Harris, Contributing Editor, Hudson Valley Style Magazine – Photography by Maxwell Alexander (Duncan Avenue Studios)
Naomi: Hello, Kelly! What an absolute pleasure it is to connect & create with you, thanks for chatting with me. Tell us about your niche perfume brand KELLY + JONES – what led you to launch it and how do you define your product?
Kelly: We create olfactive experiences inspired by the vineyard and beyond. Did you know that you’re not supposed to wear perfume while sipping wine? It’s a rule that makes a lot of sense – the aroma can interfere with the wine. I got in trouble at a winery for wearing fragrance! But the vanilla on my skin was intertwining with the Chardonnay in my glass, creating an all-new experience. So I set out to create fragrances that teach us more about the aromas in wine, and the joy of all our senses.
Naomi: We love to see women successful at creating their own business! I understand you’ve provided scents for some notable celebrities & events, can you share about some of those exciting collaborations?
Kelly: Thank you! K+J fragrances are super interactive, so we’ve celebrated at wine festivals across New York. It’s great to experience the perfumes paired with a glass of wine. We’ve also created bespoke scent experiences. A scent bar at Justin Timberlake’s recent album launch allowed VIP guests to blend fragrances to wear on the dance floor. We served as the “Scent DJ” for the launch of the Ferrari Portofino, pairing aromas with a visual driving journey through Italy.
We created a tropical cocktail-inspired scent bar for Sandals Resort in Turks and Caicos. The fragrances are available at Macy’s and also have been at Urban Outfitters; locally, you can find them at various venues across the Hudson Valley. Now, we’re taking these experiences into the virtual event space, with at-home smelling kits and classes.
Naomi: How amazing! Now you’ve put down roots here in the Hudson Valley. What do you love about this area?
Kelly: I’m originally from Montana, and I was drawn to this area since the landscape reminds me of home. With the Catskill Mountains in the distance from my scent studio, it just inspires me all the time. I love getting into nature to ideate new fragrances. And did I mention all of the vineyards?
Naomi: Agreed, it’s the perfect spot here for creatives; speaking of, where or from whom do you draw inspiration for your scents? Give us a peek into your creative process!
Kelly: I love gathering with friends at local wine bars to try new wines and pairings. It’s great to visit local wineries too, and exchange inspiration with the vintners. The “terroir” of the Hudson Valley is my constant inspiration. Foraging the forest floor on local trails for new scents, picking berries at the local farms, and discovering a truly “fresh waterfall” aroma.
Naomi: So interesting! As scent is such a literal experience, how has this past year living in a global pandemic challenged you as an independent perfumer?
Kelly: The fact that COVID can affect your sense of smell is pretty distressing, alongside all of the other challenges. When the pandemic hit, I immediately noticed the need – and shortage – of hand sanitizer. With the ingredients in my scent studio, I made a super quick pivot to begin producing hand sanitizer. We started delivering it to front line workers and local grocers in need. At the same time, I created a batch with fragrance to make people feel better – aromas that lift the spirits in this difficult time.
Naomi: What a great way to make a positive contribution during a difficult time! So how are you imagining sharing your perfumes & people experiencing your scents going forward?
Kelly: Previously, we had a tendency to wear perfume for others – a date on the town, gatherings with friends and family, or a work meeting. Now, we really wear perfume for ourselves more. That spritz can lift our spirits, and add a sense of style while we are lounging in sweatpants!
We’ll be back out in the field soon, though. In May, we’ll be back to market life with a pop up at Stone Ridge Orchard. We’ll be wearing masks and sniffing in an all new way – but we’ll be together.
Naomi: Love that. Fragrances hold very personal & powerful meanings to us, I’ve no doubt we’ll always be reaching for ways to discover more. Let’s chat about your collections – I personally have become obsessed with the Mezcal line of KELLY + JONES. Do you have any favorites within your line?
Kelly: The Eau de Mezcal Collection is quite mystical. I worked with mezcal distillers in Oaxaca, Mexico to create the collection, and a portion of the sales go back to the communities there.
My current favorite is the new Ice Wine eau de parfum. It’s inspired by the frozen vineyards of the Finger Lakes region.
Naomi: So what’s next for KELLY + JONES? Any new scent releases or products coming out soon?
Kelly: I’m excited to announce that we’ll be launching the new Mezcal Verde. It’s a bright green aroma with smoky bottom notes. Imagine yourself sipping mezcal next to a waterfall in the Catskill Mountains – that’s what it smells like.
Naomi: Sounds divine, can’t wait! Aside from perfumery, what do you do outside of work?
Kelly: My scent studio is next to Village Coffee in Kingston, so I love hopping down to meet friends for lunch and a hello. You can usually find me and my Cairn Terrier on the hiking trails. I’m also a tournament water skier and love being out on the lake.
Naomi: It was so nice getting to know you and your sensational perfume brand better, Kelly, thank you for sharing the details about your unique business! Do you have a personal scent ethos to leave with us?
Kelly: Our sense of smell is the most magical and mystical of all our senses. But we tend to ignore it. I like to inspire others to really let your nose experience all of the essences that surround us every day.