I first met Mickey Ashmore, founder of Sabah, under the multi-colored lights of the original Katoi mothership. We were both at the newest Thai restaurant in Corktown to support its grand opening when Courtney, one of Katoi’s owners, said we should talk to each other. Sabahs are extremely comfortable leather shoes based on traditional Turkish leatherworking methods, made by hand. To say they feel like walking on a cloud gives clouds too much credit.
Mickey travels the world selling Sabahs, and was on the brink of opening a series of stores across the country. We began discussing scent both in the context of the ginger and fish sauce emanating from Katoi’s kitchen, and during travel, where a whiff of the familiar can instill a deep sense of peace. Mickey was interested in a custom scent, one he could take with him on his travels, that would capture the essence of Sabah. He wanted comfort, adventure, and home, which would be captured by the desert aromas of the Southwest US, where Mickey had spent time growing up.
After some initial misguided forays into the scents of spice markets and Arabian roses, a picture started to emerge. Dry, desert air, with a wisp of pine smoke, the scent of leather, and an aura of lavender to induce calm. From the sharp tang of palo santo to the loving embrace of sandalwood, we found Sabah Number One, a scent both exotic and familiar, like the slipper you didn’t know was made just for you.