Scent Style: Chelsey Burnside, Cofounder and Creative Director at Studio Sophomore

Words by Sara Harowitz

Photography by Chelsey Burnside

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Just like your fashion sense, your scent preferences can say so much about who you are. So we decided to ask inspiring people in our network to come up with a unique diffuser cocktail—something that showcases their personalities and makes them feel amazing in their spaces.

Chelsey Burnside is talented almost to the point of it being frustrating—almost. But she is so funny and friendly and downright likeable that you forgive her for being effortlessly skilled at everything she tries...except maybe sports.

With a background in journalism (at school for which she met this author), she’s got a natural knack for writing; in her current gig as cofounder and creative director of Toronto-based Studio Sophomore, she puts this ability, along with many others, to work on brand campaigns spanning video, copywriting, social media, photography, graphic design, and more. Founded with her partner (in business and life) Cainan Querido, Sophomore is a creative agency with, well, agency. The work they produce is fresh, innovative, high-quality, playful; it’s also effective, which is why companies like Bumble, Indigo, Roots, MEC, and Dr Dennis Gross have all used their services.

As the owner of a fast-growing startup, Burnside understandably works a lot. For her, the chance to experiment with natural home scenting was an exercise in slowing down.

Scent is so personal. What does it mean to you?

Scent is the sense I find most nostalgic; it’s transporting. Sometimes I’ll smell something—Meomi pinot noir, laundry detergent, L’Oreal Kids cherry-almond shampoo, Chinatown—and the memory will be so strong that it cuts me off mid-sentence and sucks me back in time (picture a smaller, Canadian, less charming Domnhall Gleeson in About Time). To this day, certain hand soaps jolt me back to my Grade 9 boyfriend’s house and I still find it unnerving.

Describe your personality in three to five words.

Someone once described me as Kate Middleton in a snapback, which I’ll take.

With those words in mind, tell us about the diffuser cocktail that you’ve created to represent your scent style.

While I’d love to weave a solid skateboarding-through-Buckingham-Palace analogy in here, I think this scent experiment was all about chilling out, and finding the perfect droplet formula to complement my nighttime routine of putting on a face mask (the not-government-mandated kind) and binge-watching trashy murder shows (#UnsolvedMysteries). I started with equal parts Spruce and Frankincense because it sounded mystical; dallied with a splash of Sweet Orange; and spent a week in minimalist Retreat mode, pretending I hadn’t just cancelled two vacations. In the end I landed on Dusk with an extra splash of Frankincense.

Why did you choose these oils and how do they work together? What does the final aroma smell like or remind you of?

I was pretty proud of how well these two complemented each other…until I looked at the Dusk label and realized that Frankincense is actually one of its base notes. Aromatic Sherlockery aside, the scent reminds me of a small-town library at Christmastime and just reminds me to breathe.

What room do you diffuse it in, and when do you diffuse it?

On my nightstand, as close to my face as possible, right before bed (best served with a spritz of Sleep Mist for good measure).

Aside from scent, what makes you feel truly at home in your space?

Good sheets (from White Terry Home). A good robe (from Mary Young). A glass of red wine. A sweatsuit. A scrunchie. CJ, my german shepherd.

Chelsey Burnside

What’s your favourite thing about your home?

The criss-crossy light that hits the wall every day around 8 p.m.


10 drops Dusk Essential Oil Blend

5 drops Frankincense Essential Oil