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Edmonton designer harnesses forest smells with unisex fragrances

Josh Smith's Libertine Fragrance is featured in new Edmonton Made gift guide featuring all local products

Josh Smith developed a line of unisex fragrances that are being featured in the new Edmonton Made gift guide.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Josh Smith developed a line of unisex fragrances that are being featured in the new Edmonton Made gift guide.

An Edmonton fragrance-maker sees the forest for the breeze.

Josh Smith came to Edmonton to take a forestry program at NAIT, but switched his career path when he found a way to harness the scents of the woods in unisex fragrances.

Libertine Fragrance specializes in smells like mossy forest floors and freshly cut hay.

“Some are kind of woody, I’ve got more cedar and fir notes and those sort of things – some that are more herbal and grassy, and on the other side more fruit or floral inspirations,” Smith said.

“It’s kind of a nice way to take you back to more of a natural environment, while still being in the city in an apartment.”

Smith is one of a handful of Edmonton designers featured in the inaugural Gifted catalogue from Edmonton Made, launching in conjunction with Edmonton Design Week.

Smith’s business started as a school project, when he took design at the University of Alberta and incorporated what he previously learned at NAIT.

He started ordering essential oils and reading up on how to combine fragrances, using a trial-and-error process to find formulas that worked.

“I had really no intentions of carrying on with it past that project’s end date, but it was really well received,” Smith said.

Part of the appeal is the gearing of all his scents to people of any gender, rather than making separate men’s and women’s fragrances.

His products are also marketed as vegan and cruelty-free.

“There’s a lot of gender division in terms of fragrances … I myself enjoy ingredients that would be more meant for women, and I know a lot of women who enjoy wearing men’s colognes,” Smith said.

“You should be wearing it for yourself versus what other people might expect or want.”

Gifted includes 99 items from 42 Edmonton companies, including clothes, jewelry, art, body and bath products, artwork, food, furniture and more, chosen by a panel of business and design experts.

Others include Michelle Dall'Acqua, who makes jewelry from old guitar strings, and Kyle Closen, a former welder who changed careers to do leatherworking.

Laura Tailleur, who created the guide, said it highlights the innovation of Edmonton “makers.”

“We want to show that there’s lots of different ways that Edmontonians are contributing to the economic diversity here, and there’s lots of different ways that you can support local,” she said.

The guide’s launch party will take place Sept. 25 at Hyatt Hotel.

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