The Perfect Reminder

Kelly Jones

The Perfect Reminder

  • Words Jacqueline Raposo
  • Photographs Larissa Fatseas
The Perfect Reminder

The Perfect Reminder

Perfumer Kelly Jones remembers the fresh mountain air of her home state of Montana and the desert aroma surrounding her childhood in Texas. She remembers various birthdays by the bottles of perfume friends gifted her. She remembers the smell of her father’s 1932 Model T Ford — the wool seat covers, the spark plugs, the engine oil — and of the cars at various vintage car shows they saw together over the years: memories so precious they inspired a career in the automobile industry.

By her late twenties, Kelly was working in her “dream job” as a product planner for Toyota, managing large projects, living in Los Angeles, and traveling regularly to Mexico and Japan. But one day in a random, paralyzing moment of doubt, she asked herself: “Am I really happy? Will I just do this forever?” She started to worry: Would the fact that she had succeeded at such an early age eventually fizzle her love for the job? Would she find herself decades later driving a Lexus and miserable? To calm her building anxiety, she increasingly turned to the soothing environments of aromatherapy and spa treatments.

And then, “magic” happened.

While in Tokyo, she sat as the sole woman in a stark conference room, about to present to Toyota’s Board of Directors. Out the window, “this incredibly vibrant, full of life Cherry Blossom tree was blowing petals in the wind. I went to another world in that moment,” she says. “I felt like I could smell them through the window. I started drawing this fragrance bar… these perfumes…. On the plane on the way home, I started making a business plan… It turned into me using my vacation time to study fragrance, to go to spa conferences, to network: using every minute of my weekends, free time, and vacation. It started coming to life. I couldn’t stop.”

Kelly eventually quit her job with Toyota. She moved to Tucson, Arizona; a smaller city with an eager spa community and lower cost of living, it seemed the perfect place for a smart business owner to start over in a new field. There, her Salud Scent Studio welcomed patrons with a community feel focused around designing personal blends in a non-intimidating, fun setting.

And then she fell in love… with a revelation.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Reminder
The Perfect Reminder

She was vacationing amongst the vineyards of northern California when a winemaker called her out for wearing a vanilla-laced perfume in his tasting room right as she sank her lips into a buttery, oaky Chardonnay. “I realized crossing these two worlds were completely forbidden,” she says of the “#1 rule of wine tasting”. But she had picked up matching notes in her perfume and the delicious wine! She returned to Arizona with a few cases of vino and a mission:  “I sat in my store and created blends I thought would enhance the nuances, pair with, and create a new way to think of the wine,” she explains. “Sixty people came for a wine and perfume pairing, and it was a huge success. It helped me realize I had to bring this to life and explore it.”

During this time, the economy began crumbling. Salud coasted along healthfully, but she didn’t know how long a brick and mortar store would hold. Then she got offered a job as the Marketing Manager for the New York office of Firmenich–a Swiss-owned company that creates perfume and flavor. Realizing she could explore her new fragrance idea on the side, she shut the store and moved east. 

“I had no time for my own business,” Kelly explains of her failure to grow her passion into a sustainable standalone over the years. “I went through several occasions where I thought I couldn’t do both anymore…but then something would always happen to make me not quit: a good friend would call, or my mom would get on the phone to remind me why I was doing this.” With the support of family and friends around her, she battled on with growing Kelly + Jones while also working hard back in the corporate world.

And then, another sign.

One day, she was moving into a one-room rental on a whimsical New York West Village street. She pulled up the blinds from a window to see a Cherry Blossom tree floating petals into the air. “I was getting sucked into the corporate world again,” she reflects of having lost her focus. “That Cherry Blossom tree didn’t come out of nowhere. It told me not to quit.” She left the corporate world and has focused solely on blending scents and stories ever since.


Her Notes of Chardonnay from the Reserve Collection brings her right back to that California tasting room moment, where bursts of honeydew melon blast green sweetness you often find with the first sip of the varietal, and then mellow out with middle notes of florals and vanilla before sinking into the caramel and butterscotch notes of toasted oak barrels. Her Wine Cabin candle brings together copal incense with cedar, pine, and wood smoke, inspired by cabins found on a snowshoe trek in the wild of a Montana winter, a California vineyard, and a rocky Catskill, New York trail. And she recently published a Perfumer’s Guide to Wine Aromas wheel, which shows how intricately she pairs the fragrances in perfume and wine. Her patience and dedication have led to her skeptics – those in the wine world who once believed that perfume should never be worn in a tasting room – now looking to her for advice, asking her what fragrance she picks up in their wine so that they can better understand their own product. “This is what the patience was for,” she reflects, “and believing what this can do.”

The Perfect Reminder
The Perfect Reminder

Now, instead of flying business class to Tokyo, Kelly travels by car to flea markets and craft fairs. Since she committed to Kelly + Jones full time, her business has grown to twenty-five corporate accounts on an international scale. But the best thing now, she says, “the reward, if you will – is I’m around these people every day who also believe in something, and are working so hard on what they love. And when you work hard on what you love, you find your tribe of people who also believe in you, who want to see you succeed, and who also want to share.” She knows one day she may go back to the corporate arena that served her so well. But, especially given the tenuous state of world affairs at present, she’s more than content with the tribe of other entrepreneurs and creatives currently unifying around the scene with Kelly + Jones.

“I want to be surrounded by people who want to collaborate,” she finishes. “Who want to help each other, and who dream really big.”

 

 

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