Imagine leaving your computer for a moment and travelling to the other side of the world. The scent of fresh cut jasmine and rose blossoms surrounds you while cedar infuses the air at the flower markets. Now you’re moving east. White lotus mixes with coral and orange flowers, tinged with a hint of tea, seaweed and musk. Fragrances that titillate your senses and transport you to far off lands are hard to find, but Skeem have come up with something as close to travel-in-a-bottle as you can get.
After listening to customer demand, Skeem expanded their candle fragrance into their Pure Perfume collection – roller ball perfumes which are made with just three clean natural ingredients: denatured alcohol, filtered water and their exclusive, best-selling fragrances. Skeem adapted their Pure Pillar candle collection to this mini, take-along size giving you long-lasting scent, anywhere.
We talk to Suji Meswani, co-owner of Skeem Candles that created this travel-inspired perfume collection. Along with husband and graphic designer Geoff Weiser, the Philadelphia based husband and wife team named the company after the couple’s “scheme” to break free from the corporate world. The rich, colorful designs and unique long-lasting scents are inspired by their vast travels which include three to four annual trips to exotic locales such as, India, Costa Rica, and Thailand.
Thara: In terms of wanting to break out of the corporate world, you have been quoted as saying “The further along we got in that world, the more it became about management and administration, and less about actual design work”. Skeem products are vibrant and beautiful and engage a variety of senses – do you think this thirst for living life has transpired into your work?
Suji: We certainly hope so. We have really developed a mantra or edict for how we want to live our life. We do not subscribe to the typical American corporate attitude of “bigger, better, more”. We want simplicity; ease, good health, and a real work/ play balance. We try to make all our choices based on this, from the people we hire, to the vendors we source from. As a result, we have more free time to see and enjoy the world around us. I think this reflects in our inspiration and ultimately in our finished products.
Thara: Your travels have heavily influenced your designs and products, and you’ve been to such exotic places such as India and Costa Rica. Do you have any more countries you’d like to cross off your list in the future?
Suji: There are so many places we’d love to go. Spain, Japan, Morocco, Belize (I could go on and on) being at the top right now. We are in constant search of authentic foreign experiences, something that gets harder and harder as the world gets smaller and smaller. We recently went on a small, group travel experience to Thailand. At first I was dreading the idea of “group” travel, but we had an amazing group of like-minded designers and artists and it was so fun to hear other people’s insights and experiences. I am eager to try something like that again.
Thara: When you travel, what things do you look for as inspiration to take back home?
Suji: We use our own imagery in a lot of our work, so we take loads of photographs that can then be turned into artwork for our designs. For that we love to visit any place that is rich in texture and design, whether it be tile work at a grand palace or an exotic botanical garden. We also spend a lot of time in markets both new and vintage, looking for books, prints, fabric, ribbons, lace, textiles and various ephemera. We have brought back everything from a collection of cigar labels to henna stickers.
Thara: It has been said, “The line’s exotic, flea-markety aesthetic is in line with the couple’s personal taste”. Have you always been lovers of eccentric and vintage pieces?
Suji: Absolutely. We love pieces with a history, and try to avoid anything new and slick as much as possible. That’s not to say we don’t like contemporary designs, but we like them with a twist, a modern desk shape made with salvage wood, or industrial modern mixed back with global ethnic pieces. That’s really our personal style.
Thara: Your products are very eco-friendly. Do you think you’ll further develop this area and bring on more ways of becoming an eco-friendly brand?
Suji: It’s interesting, the whole “eco-friendly” movement or trend. I think there are a lot of companies hopping on this idea as a trend and not as away of doing business. We try not only to make products that are friendly to the earth, but try to conduct our day-to-day business in a way that is good and healthy. We pay full health care for all our employees, even the part-time ones. We make everything in the USA, and we try to do business with smaller companies that share our work ideals. It is not important to us that our products be “eco-friendly” above all else, but it is important that we are proud of how, where and what our products are made from and of who makes them. I think this naturally leads you in a certain direction, and if that direction is also on-trend, even better!
Try their collection:
Images courtesy of Skeem