There are so many fascinating people in the fragrance and beauty community. From the creative minds that bring products to us to the critics who tell us what to buy, you can learn so much by asking a few questions.
In this new series I send a list of questions to individuals I look up to and share their answers with you. This week, we have Dave from Fragrance Bros. Dave is a YouTuber who regularly reviews scents ranging from the very niche to the extremely mainstream. Check out his iconic video, S*** Fragrance Heads Say:
Here are his thoughts about blogging, interacting with his audience, and making his own perfume.
1. How did you get started in reviewing fragrances for YouTube?
A few years ago I ran out of cologne and wanted to get a new bottle. But because I hate talking to sales associates and hate fragrance counters in general, I did some searches online for good men’s fragrances, and that’s how I stumbled upon the YouTube fragrance community. They made many good suggestions, and I took notes of things to try. I found myself spending a lot of time watching these videos and noticed that they all were videos of individuals giving their opinions. I thought it would be a great idea to see two or more people giving their thoughts on a fragrance because it would add a conversational quality to the video and give the viewer two opinions rather than just one. I had a camera and buddy willing to go in with me, and thus Fragrance Bros. was born. It was a little rough at first, but we got better and eventually found our audience that really gets what the channel is about.
2. What has been the best thing that’s come out of this experience for you, and why?
The best thing is all the relationships that I have had through all this. I have made some wonderful professional connections, personal connections, and even deep friendships from this. One of my favorite perfumers has become a good friend of mine, and one of my favorite reviewers became a great friend and even stayed in my home for his vacation. People really respect my channel for its opinions and that really means so much. Most of my subscribers are very nice, and the interaction with them has been wonderful. I couldn’t do it without the support of my viewers, and they always surprise and humble me with just how great they are.
3. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? What is it, and why?
I think one of the first things I would change would be to stick with my friend Jer from the start and would have asked him to join first. Many may or may not know that I had a different co-host for the first few videos. He didn’t love fragrances as much as me so he stopped reviewing pretty early. Jeremy stepped in and was fantastic. He’s a great friend so we had a natural chemistry and were comfortable joking with each other. That really helped define our channel. The next thing I would do differently is I would have upgraded the video and audio quality earlier. I had an okay camera at first, but the quality wasn’t great. When I upgraded to a DSLR, it changed everything, and when I look at the difference in video and audio quality, the old videos seem almost DIY and less serious.
4. Think back to any particular event in your blogging experience that stands out, negatively or positively. What was it, and what did you take from it?
I get a lot of flak for doing negative reviews. Because my videos are very opinionated, some reviews give bad scores to fragrances. We do that because we think it’s important to talk about a fragrance honestly. Doing this adds, I think, value to our library of reviews, because someone will know that we won’t be influenced by hype or trends or any other factor. But because we give bad marks, and because we have a fun time with our reviews, I get some harsh comments periodically. Most of the time I just delete them, but sometimes I respectfully respond. So to answer your question, I’ve learned to have a thick skin and not get upset at critical or stupid comments.
5. What is your blogging process? Does it start with the fragrance or something else?
Yeah it’s actually fairly straightforward. With so many fragrances out there, it’s sometimes hard to decide what to review, but I usually try to do a mix of choices ranging from trending fragrances, new fragrances, unknowns, subscribers’ choice, or something that I just love. Then the actual review process is easy enough. I wear it and write my thoughts down. For me, I really enjoy handwriting my reviews for whatever reason. And then when we shoot reviews, we usually record a few at a time so I have several weeks’ worth of reviews to work with.
6. How do you manage the administrative side of your platform?
After I record our reviews, I edit the videos in CyberDirector. I really like that software and it has really streamlined much of my editing workflow. After that, everything is handled in YouTube, generally. If I have to moderate any comments, I do it through the back end of my YouTube channel. I do correspond with people in the industry from time to time by email, and I try to make sure that if they send me any samples that I try to review them in a timely manner. It doesn’t always happen though, since I prepare weeks ahead of time.
7. What advice would you give to aspiring fragrance bloggers?
I think the biggest advice I would give is to be yourself, and not try to copy the style of another blogger/reviewer. If you can, try to distinguish yourself in some way that sets you apart from the others. That will make you memorable and interesting enough to build an audience that will keep returning. And do it for the right reasons: because you love fragrances. That should be foundational. If it’s your passion, then it will keep you going regardless of the obstacles that will come your way.
8. You have a very active ‘fragrance family’ community built around your videos. How do you keep the audience engaged?
Mostly through having them create a dialogue in the comment section of my videos. At the end of every review I ask them to say what they think of the fragrance. That’s been a great way to communicate with everyone. I don’t get to respond to every comment, but I try to get most of them. I also try to create content that I think they would like. Sometimes that is looking at what fragrances they are requesting reviews for, and other times it’s just to make unique content that I know they would like.
9. Any fragrance you’re currently obsessed with? What makes it stand out?
Oh yes. Always. Haha. Right now I’m in love with Sova by Slumberhouse, Cuir D’Ange from the Hermessence line by Hermes, and A City On Fire by Imaginary Authors. I really love Sova because of how unique it is. It reminds me of dead fig leaves, and has a hay and hops note that are really wonderful. All of Slumberhouse’s fragrances are spectacular in a slightly odd way. Cuir D’Ange is great because of how it adds a clean twist to the classic leather fragrance. It’s a leather fragrance that is stripped of any animalic references and almost smells like skin. A City On Fire blew me away when I first smelled it. It’s a smoky scent that has dialed the smoke down to the perfect amount. From the start, it smells like smoke from a distance, and is dark and sexy. Then when it dries, it is musky, fruity, and smells nothing like it did at first. It’s genius.
10. A fragrance you hated in recent memory? What made it so horrible, and does it have any redeeming qualities?
The most recent one is Dior Homme Parfum. I had high hopes for it, and because I am a huge fan of Dior Homme and Dior Homme Intense, I fully expected it to smell just as good as those two. But unfortunately it let me down really hard, and smells like a cheap knockoff of a supposed Dior Homme flanker. I really hoped this was going to be at least okay, but it’s nothing compared to its older brothers, and even when not compared to them, it’s still not good.
11. Do you think that after years of cultivating your opinions you would put them to use in making your own perfume? Why or why not?
It has obviously crossed my mind a few times, and there are fragrances in my mind that seem like they would be great. But in all honesty, after reading books from perfumer Mandy Aftel, I really came to the conclusion that being a fragrance critic and being a fragrance creator are completely different skill sets, and I would be fooling myself if I thought that being a critic gave me any talent at being a creator. Being a perfumer is hard work and I have gained a deep appreciation for everyone that makes great perfumes. If I ever did create a line of fragrances, I would put in the work and research required to do the perfumes justice. But right now I just don’t have the time to do that.
12. What does the future hold for the Fragrance Bros?
Well I’m definitely going to continue on. I will continue to do fragrance reviews in the usual way. I want to have more guest reviewers on my channel. I’ve had a few so far. I have some ideas for some good non-review content. I have more fragrance book reviews coming. I have more house-specific videos coming. And I have more episodes from “Five Fragrances You Should Buy” coming soon. I’m always trying to improve my channel in every way I can. So I can’t look into the future, but I can assure you that my channel will be even better in the years to come.
13. Any up and coming bloggers to watch for?
Well I honestly don’t read many blogs. So I can’t recommend any bloggers, but I personally think the YouTube fragrance community is thriving right now. All of the guests on my channel, MyMickers, Brooklyn Fragrance Lover, and The Fragrance Apprentice, have wonderful channels that are worth your time. And there are so many other great channels that stand out, too—too many to list.
14. ‘Splits’ have become very popular on your channel. What is that experience like?
Well I’m not the first to do splits on my channel. We try to do at least one split a month if time allows. Basically, a split is selling smaller portions of a fragrance. Many people just want to try something new without having to buy a whole bottle, and they would rather have a small portion so they can save money. Others want to buy a normal amount of a fragrance but like the savings that a split can often provide. I usually explain it to them with the 50ml and 100ml bottle pricing. When you go into a store and want to buy a new fragrance, usually there isn’t a huge price difference between a 50ml and 100ml, though there is a 100% difference in fragrance volume. So the price per milliliter for the 100ml bottle is actually cheaper than the 50ml bottle since the 50ml isn’t half the price of the 100ml. Many companies sell even larger amounts of fragrances, 250ml, 500ml, even one liter bottles. And the price per mil is even cheaper the larger you go. So splits can serve as a way to give people an instant discount if they want the juice but don’t necessarily care about having the packaging.
15. Do you ever look at your collection and think ‘that’s enough’? Do you think that you will ever?
I don’t really see myself as a collector, per se. I do have a large collection of fragrances compared to the average person, but compared to most fragrance enthusiasts I think mine is pretty modest. My philosophy is that I want to keep fragrances that I adore and that I use often. If I see a fragrance in my wardrobe that fails to meet one or both of those criteria, I just sell it. But I always have room for more, so I don’t ever think that I’ll say “that’s enough.”