Sitting at Little Pine in Los Angeles, Patrick Kelly is brimming with excitement. “It was the best set day I’ve ever experienced,” he says over a cup of coffee, reflecting on the previous day’s photo shoot for his brand, Sigil Scent. “People were just connecting to the concept, with the campaign, and each other in such a deep way where it truly feels like this will go so far beyond just selling perfume, and really be about that deep human connection that the fragrance can facilitate.” He pauses, smiling as he thinks about the previous 24 hours. “And it was so palpable. I’m getting chills just thinking about it right now.”
Kelly’s chills, excitement, and passion aren’t just palpable, they’re transferable to whoever he comes in contact with. He knows the staff at this hip vegan restaurant; he’d rather share dishes than divide the table. This genuine care is present in every aspect of Sigil Scent—a high-quality line of 100 per cent natural, genderless fragrances that Kelly founded in 2015 and relaunched in 2019.
“With the first iteration of the brand I was a bit more, perhaps, afraid to put all of my own identity and vision into the world,” he says. “Maybe it was out of fear of being too narrow—or not as broadly appealing—but I don’t really fucking care anymore! This is who I am, and the people that get it and connect to it will have a much more deep and meaningful experience in the brand. It won’t just be about the product; it will be about how they see themselves in the brand and what it stands for.”
At this point, connecting with Sigil is connecting directly with Kelly. The self-taught perfumer is still pouring and aging the batches himself in a Koreatown loft. Every bottle of Solutio, Amor Fati, Anima Mundi, and Prima Materia (his best-seller) has gone through his hands.
However, with the high demand for his earthy and ethereal fragrances, he’s already thinking about expansion. “As I’m scaling, it gets really tricky because one order now could totally deplete my inventory of juice. I’m kind of just taking every day step by step,” he says. He’s currently producing 640 units every three to four weeks. “That’s insane! I haven’t actually considered that math in a minute. I should just stop for a moment and be like, ‘Holy shit, that’s wild,’” Kelly says, laughing. He’s been so head-down in the day-to-day that he hasn’t taken a moment to appreciate his progress. “In the old branding,” he remembers, “I was maybe selling that much in a year.”
After a massive rebrand of packaging and marketing of the four scents (four feels like a full collection; it’s substantive more so than three, but five starts to feel overwhelming if you’re smelling them all), Kelly is ready to push the power of his brand further. “I think we’re taking [the fragrance world into the future] with the imagery that we’re creating and the voice that we’re adding into the brand identity as it’s represented in the market,” he says. Part of this brand identity is Sigil Scent’s interview series that talks to influential people about identity within each subject’s scent profile. “It’s about who they are. The pronouns piece I think is so important just to create awareness for this language that is still evolving culturally,” he says, referring to how he asks each subject for their preferred gender pronouns. “And that’s a huge win. If someone reads that and they’re like, ‘Oh, what is this?’ or they dive in a little bit more or they even see it and appreciate it, that is already understanding it.”
Kelly’s goal above all is to represent more than just what the beauty and scent industry has provided the public. “I think my perfumes are a little more experimental,” he offers. “There’s something for everyone, but there are some adventurous, unexpected palettes in one or two of them.” The inclusive concept of “for everyone” is true to the core of Sigil in terms of fragrance identity and personal identity—and 2020 is going to be even stronger for both the brand and Kelly.
“More inclusive, more representation,” he says with confidence, when prodded about the future. “I think we’ve seen enough of shirtless muscle-men in the desert. I think that’s dead, and we need to have more diversity, more true emotional experiences represented, and just more storytelling. I mean, fragrance has so much capacity to take people places and to evoke deep sensations more so than just, ‘Oh, that guy’s hot,’ you know? I think we need to take people farther, faster. Maybe outer space. I don’t know. Maybe an outer space fragrance or something.”