Ingrid Nilsen, a YouTube celebrity with millions of views, announced her retirement from the site that rocketed her career last summer.
“I was able to take a true break from work and really be myself offline for the first time in over a decade,” says Nilsen, beauty and lifestyle vlogger who helped pioneer the getting-ready-with-me format.
The New Savant, a new Brooklyn-based scented candle studio founded with her partner Erica Anderson, arose from her newfound independence. “It had been building in my imagination for years, but it was only during this free time that I was able to make it a reality,” she explains.
Nilsen has been fascinated by the multi-sensory sensation of fragrance for as long as she can remember. “I believe I was one of the first YouTubers to burn a candle in the background of a video, and my early followers recall my Bath & Body Works candle hauls,” she explains.
“I was all in from the beginning.” So, one day in 2020, as requests for stay-at-home candles skyrocketed, Nilsen began experimenting with her own, crafting her first batch atop Anderson’s childhood ping pong table in the basement of her father’s home in Valparaiso, Indiana.
While Nilsen and Anderson, who met at the Lesbians Who Tech conference in 2017, have both spent their careers on the Internet, they wanted their joint business to be a departure from it.
“The thing about being on the cutting edge is that it may give you a front-row seat to what we risk losing as we race into the future—and smell is one of these things,” Anderson continues.
“Historically, it has always been the sense with the least amount of vocabulary surrounding it—yet it is one of the most significant because it is processed in the same portion of the brain as emotion and memory.
It possesses the mysterious ability to take you to another era of your life or to elicit a powerful reaction to the outside world. It provides us with a wealth of information.”
The team has swiftly developed an enthusiastic following by combining a small-batch approach—Ingrid manually pours each candle into a sleek, stainless steel container consisting of 25% post-consumer waste—with uniquely-crafted aromas motivated by their common view that “luxury doesn’t have to be stuffy and serious.”
Their debut collection sold out in seven minutes, and their next release, the Core Collection, created in conjunction with French fragrance brand Givaudan, is being welcomed with similar enthusiasm.
“I love building things and know that it always takes partnerships,” says Anderson, who previously worked as an executive producer at Vox Media and at Google and Twitter before co-founding The New Savant.
“It was an incredible opportunity to work with an established, experienced, and female-led team at Givaudan. We both believed it would help Ingrid be more creative while also elevating our products.”
The Core Collection is a trio of aromas that cover a wide range of emotions and seasons. Androgyne (peony, rose petals, plum, and incense), The Dropout (golden saffron, hemp leaves, sueded leather, and smoked vanilla), and Heatwave are all designed to be blended and matched (fresh dill, cucumber, peaches, and patchouli).
“I enjoy layering smells, so I absolutely urge people to experiment with our candles and burn them together,” Nilsen says, naming The Dropout and Heatwave as her favorite match.
“They’re polar opposites; The Dropout is earthy and grounding, while Heatwave is bright and exhilarating, but they balance each other out in the most gloriously unexpected way,” she says.
In addition to their services, Nilsen and Anderson are committed to fostering and teaching their growing community by decoding the olfactory experience in both unique and personal ways.
“There is a gap of confidence purchasing a new smell online,” Anderson argues. “If this is your first time using a scent profile, you must have a lot of faith because you can’t smell it. Through a screen, you can’t really tell what “juicy peaches and all the time in the world” smells like.
” To make things easier, they’ve written an approachable Scent 101 guide, hosted Instagram Live Q&As discussing their scents, and offer a shopping-with-Ingrid-style guide for choosing a scent, which helps you navigate everything from how you want to feel when you’re burning this candle to a blueprint for how to best enjoy it, whether that means nibbling on a dark chocolate bar while reading
“Smell instantaneously produces a feeling,” says Nilsen. “Think about how you want to feel in the place where you’re lighting your candle.” “When I’m unwinding and watching a movie, I’ll watch The Dropout because it’s grounding.
I’ll burn Heatwave if I’m working from home since it’s energizing. I’d prefer Androgyne for a dinner party since it’s seductive and encourages conversation.”…and they’re keeping their promise of wonderful smells for good times.
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