Smell Bent Perfumer Brent Leonesio Interview

Hello pursuers of fine fragrances,

This week I have again chosen to highlight the incredible talent of an Independent Perfumer; Brent Leonesio from Smell Bent. It wasn’t so long ago that I discovered the Smell Bent brand, I’m not even sure how it happened now. Maybe another blogger was writing or I could have stumbled upon them in a late night google search. Maybe I came across his picture, because the man is really, decidedly, damned cute. Yummy McYUM!!

Doesn’t matter where I found Smell Bent, what do matter are the juices, they are fun, frivolously named, sideways and sometimes shocking fragrances. The fun belies the fact that if it’s a Smell Bent fragrance, then it will be awesome. Not always to my taste, it’s true, but something extraordinary never-the-less. The first scent I bought was a bottle of Tibet Yr Bottom $; a fun look at incense, woods and stuff, it stayed front and centre of the collection for 3 months, unheard of. Then, more recently, it was the Vocabulary range, the wolf pair, some gourmand Christmas frags, a couple of the Frankin-Smelly releases and to go along with this interview Brent has sent us 4 new sample size frags from his latest range for me to review and then for you to WIN! Check back on Thursday for details of how you can.

Here are a few questions that Brent was kind enough to take some time to answer, what a star….

Tell us about young Brent please?
I was definitely a curious kid.  I lived in my head and frolicked in fantasy.  And I think I still do.

What were you doing before you became a perfumer?
I worked in the fashion industry, had a bunch of different jobs – designing, wholesaling, buying.  But I got a little disenchanted with the business and was ready for a change.

How did you become interested in fragrance?
I ran out of a bottle of Armani Prive Bois d’Encens, which was going at about $200 at the time.  I went online looking for an affordable replacement when I fell down the rabbit hole known as Basenotes.  If only I had shelled out that cash, I wouldn’t be here today.

What qualifications do you have as a perfumer?
I love perfume and have studying it for 6 years and creating it for just over 3.  I guess you could say my qualification is passion.

Who were and are your mentors and inspirations?
I’ve been influenced by numerous artists in various mediums.  I look up to people like Franco Moschino, Estee Lauder and E.M. Forster.

Do you still wear mass market fragrances, if yes which and why?
I don’t wear much perfume as of late.  I usually save my nose for my work.  Recently though, I’ve been spraying myself with a bit of Alexander McQueen’s (sadly discontinued) Kingdom.

Who is your favourite independent perfumer and why?
I just got back from a show with 19 other indie perfumers.  I can’t think of a more exciting time to be working in the medium.  For the first time, in a long time, perfume is opening up and individuals who are passionate about making perfume are able to do so.  If you’re going it on your own, my hat is off to you!

Synthetic or natural, why?
I love a mix.  Naturals are incredibly interesting and complex on their own.  But there are so many exciting synthetics that offer smells the natural world doesn’t.  I couldn’t choose one over the other.

What constitutes a Smell Bent customer?
Anyone who thinks perfume can and should be fun.

How has your online business developed?
I started with a website and an email.  A friend ran a blog and wrote about me.  I just followed the aspects of businesses I respected- quick-turnaround, personalized service and high quality products at a good price.  I try and keep things as simple as possible.

Smell Bent is renowned for its quirky names and slightly sideways scents, why have you chosen that road?
When I started, I wanted to put me in the work.  And I guess a big part of it is just my personality coming through.  I also think that sometimes perfume takes itself too seriously and I wanted to change that.

Do you wish someday to work for the big end of perfumery, why?
I can’t say where I’ll be or with whom.  I’m gonna stick with smell bent for the foreseeable future.  The company is growing and finding an audience beyond my wildest dreams.

What fragrance, that you have made, do you always refer to in your mind as success, why?
I know which are most loved by my audience – scents like St. Tropez Dispenser or Bollywood of Bust.  I’m loving Short Fuse and Little Miss Panda Gets Lei’d.  But I’m always partial to the last things I’ve done.

What are the 5 most important things you have learned so far that could help budding perfumistas/perfumers?
1.     Start small.
2.     Ask for help.
3.     Don’t be afraid to try something new.
4.     When you’re most afraid of being different than everyone else, just keep going.
5.     Believe in yourself.

Where do you see Smell Bent in 5 years?
I would love to see the business continue to grow.  Every year has been a real adventure for me and I feel incredibly fortunate to be doing what I love.

Told you, Ah May Zing guy. Tomorrow I want to take you through the 4 newbies I’ve been sent to review for you, if you want to check the site before then SMELL BENT <<<JUMP
See you back here tomorrow then,
Portia xx

Photos Stolen Fragrantica

14 comments on “Smell Bent Perfumer Brent Leonesio Interview

  1. Leo says:

    Great interview Portia! Brent seems like a really friendly, interesting and down-to-earth sort of guy. I admire his determination to do things on his terms.
    I’ve got a bottle of One & Incensed and I really enjoy wearing them – they last well too.

  2. Lou says:

    Smell Bent looks awesome! Love the fun website. Hard to choose what to try though….thank goodness for samples when you live so far away.

  3. Nice interview P. It just goes to show that your passion can take you on some amazing adventures. Good luck to Brent in the future!

    • Have you tried any of the range Steve? It’s perfume but not as you know it.

      • Freddid (Smellythoughts) sent me a sample of Commando. As I mentioned in my blog, it smelled like a dirty jockstrap. I guess depending on one’s idea of what they like to smell or smell like, dirty jockstrap might do them justice. Or maybe in the lockeroom, but not out for dinner. But that was my only test, I have heard nice things about some of the other offerings though! OK, I now know that you are going to run out and test Commando… be honest Portia!

      • I thought Commando was the smell of a freeballing laborer. Just a man, his manhood, his musk. Smell that nearly every day.
        OK you’ve got me, going to order now. He He
        Portia xx

  4. Ellen Covey says:

    Great interview. I just met Brent in San Francisco, and he’s every bit as nice and quirky as you say. I totally agree that people take perfume too seriously. In fact, they take everything too seriously. Why not have fun? Kudos to Brent for promoting fun in perfume!

    • I love you Ellen,
      You are beautiful, and so talented. I think we are all, sometimes, guilty of being too serious, Brent and Smell Bent are like an antidote for that. Wearing Gujarat as I type.
      Thank you for coming and commenting,
      Portia xx

  5. Rose says:

    I love Smell Bent! Incredibly beautiful & long lasting. I tell anyone/everyone about them … Affordable indie I am so happy to support.

  6. odonata9 says:

    Hi there – don’t think I’ve commented here before, as I just started reading recently, maybe since you started up on the Posse and have been enjoying it very much! I have lots of smell bent samples – they are great for having sample sets and small sizes (4 ml sprays are the best!), and both oil and EDTs of most scents, and of course the fun attitude! Blimey Limey is probably my favorite, and I also enjoy One (a nice dry vanilla, kinda smells like books), Sunshine, and St. Tropez Dispenser. I am really curious about the Apres Soleil and the Sunshine Spiced Tea.

    • Welcome to AustralianPerfumeJunkies. it’s nice to read from a SmellBent fan. I think we are a growing number. There’s something for everyone in the range, isn’t there.
      Those oils are gorgeous too. I have a couple, Hippy and Reindeer Games, I think.
      Thank you for dropping in, see you soon,
      Portia xx

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