Detroit Denim Co
Eric Yelsma and I met at the annual Ponyride holiday market a few years ago where we were both slinging our wares. Eric is the founder of Detroit Denim Co., and makes badass jeans. The denim is American, the stitching done here in Detroit, the product guaranteed for life. He was on the brink of moving his industrial sewing and cutting machines from Ponyride, a maker space in Corktown, into his own space in Rivertown. He told me he had always been drawn to scent, and part of the intention he wanted to bring to his new shop was a custom fragrance. And he knew exactly what he wanted. "A pine tree, doused in diesel fuel, lit on fire with a burning cigar." Well, ok.
Some notes are easy. The burning cigar was captured by a raisin-y raw tobacco absolute and birch tar, which smells of a peaty scotch or campfire. But it’s not quite as simple as mixing this with some diesel fuel in an atomizer bottle and calling it done. One of the fascinating challenges of creating a custom scent for a customer is learning the translation between their words, and the language of scent. Diesel fuel has a very distinctive smell, but it is not a recommended fragrance ingredient, so we needed to find fragrant synonym. It was clear that no single note would fully capture the depth, the sourness, and the hint of fruity notes diesel contains, so we began putting pieces together. Chinese cedar is smoky with an oily character. Geranium can be overpowering, but a single drop gives an indistinct aura of fruity esters. Oregano gives a roughness that is smoothed and soured by vetiver. As the framework of the scent emerged and the ratios became clear, these fragrant fragments were sewn together with coffee and cistus to speak the phrase in the language of scent, and so DD Co. Number 1 was born: a pine tree, doused in diesel fuel, lit on fire with a burning cigar.
But Eric wanted more! To expand his line of offerings, he wanted to include both a candle and soap, with his custom DD Co. scent at their heart. Since the maker community in Detroit is fairly tight knit, I knew exactly who to call. Caitlyn Pisarski at Motor City Soap and Quinn Hamilton from Firebrand candles were both immediately on board with the chance to work together with Detroit Denim. Through much trial and error, we were able to translate Eric’s vision across all of our products. All three, soap, scent, and candle, are available at the Detroit Denim flagship retail store in Rivertown Detroit.