Run by partners in life and business, Christopher Draghi and Robert Dobay, Source Adage came to fruition in the quiet, yet humming suburb of Hudson, New York. Generating foot traffic from city dwellers and visitors alike, the historically significant neighborhood is a retail hub nestled in an idyllic setting, perfect for the relaxing ambiance of the high-end perfume store. In talks with Draghi and Dobay, they discuss the mentality behind each of their designs, as well as inspirations for scents, and what is next for the brand.
Taking inspiration from trips to California and the Florida Keys, Source Adage recognizes the beauty in nature and the way this manifests itself in the fragrances that their clientele want to wear, citing the concept behind their “Pacific Coast” home fragrance as a hike they took in Monterey. Understanding the differentiation between scents to be worn on the skin and scents for the home, the duo has come up with many different complex and timeless fragrances for any occasion. With an understanding of the personal aspect to choosing a perfume, the perfume wearer can take comfort knowing Source Adage gets it.
How did you get started making fragrances?
We weren’t finding home fragrances that fit our lifestyle. As male consumers and designers, much of what we found in the market place skewed feminine in the packaging and in the scent profiles (too sweet, too floral). We desired complex, layered scents to compliment our home and studio. And a stylish vessel that we didn’t need to hide behind books! We had a clear vision for “what we’d do” and brought that to our contacts in the fragrance industry to help us execute on it.
What does your brand bring to the world of fragrance?
What we hope that we bring to an exciting niche fragrance market, and even to the fragrance market at large, is an authentic American luxury product with a distinct point of view. Robert and I are very hands-on from start to finish for all of the products. We don’t formulate to chase trends or emulate others. We create fragrances to satisfy our own creativity and curiosity with the quality of product as a north star. It’s personal and we think that shows in the products and is what connects so well with our clients.
How did you come up with the concept for your brand?
The name “source adage” comes from the concept of being “derived from a common truth” which speaks to fragrances inspired by unspoiled landscapes. From inception, we saw US regions as a broad palette that allowed us to experiment with a variety of ingredients and genres while remaining true to that overarching concept. All of our core home scents and perfumes follow this destination-driven narrative. As we work more and more on custom scent projects—where new narratives inform the scent development—we draw upon the same principles of identifying the core essence of the theme to guide us stylistically and in the choice of ingredients.
Have you gone on any trips recently that have inspired your scents?
After a recent visit to the central coast of California, we decided to reintroduce our 'PACIFIC COAST' home fragrance. The sagebrush we found on our hikes along the Monterey peninsula inspired us to reformulate the scent with bolder herb and citrus notes. Our next unisex perfume debut, 'i’khana,' is inspired by travel to the Gulf Coast and the Florida Keys. The scent is reminiscent of a late summer afternoon after a day at the beach. Notes of citrus, spice, and light wood shape the fragrance.
What is the production of perfume like?
We start the process in-house identifying the region of inspiration to then let our imagination guide us as we blend from our collection of raw ingredients. Once we’ve landed on a formula that we both like, that target oil goes to our perfumer who will work their magic to formulate wearable versions. There is a lot of science behind proper perfume making. We embrace and cherish that part of the equation even as a niche brand. I often tell clients that we have the fun part with the alchemy of fragrance design but it is the perfumers and fragrance houses who do the heavy lifting by making sure each final fragrance not only smells great but also meets the standards you’d expect from a quality product.
What is the difference between making home scents versus perfume?
We treat the formulation for our home fragrance much the same as our perfumes. We have become known for unique, sophisticated fragrances even in our home line so we utilize many of the same raw ingredients to build the accords for a balanced, complex scent. We are mindful that certain ingredients may perform better in a burning candle or oil diffuser vs. wearability for the skin, but, otherwise, our creative approach is the same and the quality standard is as exacting.
What about Source Adage’s packaging do you find particularly special?
As designers, it was important for us to have our own proprietary vessel to establish the brand identity as well as have an object of decor that you’d proudly display. The “adage” vessel, made of hand-pressed black glass that we use for our candles and diffusers, has become our signature. We take great care in all of our packaging but the “adage” vessel is certainly the statement piece.
What do you hope your product brings to the wearer’s daily life?
Our perfumes have a point of view and that transcends to the wearer. From the mild-mannered to the extrovert, our scents convey a layer of intrigue. We strive to create fragrances that strike the right balance between evocative and sophisticated. That’s a great aspiration for anyone’s life, no?
Tell me a little bit about your store—what do you want people to achieve when they step inside?
You just kind of “get” what we’re all about when you see the facade of our store and step inside. Fragrances deserve context so we set out to design an immersive experience that expresses the character of our scents; masculine-leaning and complex. It was important for us to create a mood—a sensory experience. Not a commercial one. The wall colors, the decor, and the lighting all reinforce that goal and help to tell our brand story.
Hudson is such an amazing area. What do you love about having a business there?
Hudson is an anomaly for a small town. Beyond its cultural charm, Hudson has an unusually sophisticated level of retail stores, restaurants, and galleries due to its audience who comes primarily from NYC. After just one visit we saw a unique opportunity to launch our brand in our own brick and mortar store here and curate the environment in which our products would be sold. Hudson’s relaxed atmosphere allows us to connect with our clients, get invaluable feedback, and…continue creating new fragrances!