The Smell of Detroit fragrance is Black-owned, Detroit-made, and selling locally, nationally, and in places like Dubai.
Photo courtesy of The Smell of Detroit
If you could bottle up Detroit, what would that smell be?
Would it smell like grit and hustle? Black soul and resilience? Or vibes on vibes on vibes?
For native Detroiter Chris Witherspoon, 28, that smell is easy to describe – it’s none other than bossy, superb and elegant, naturally.
He would know as the owner of Detroit-made unisex fragrance line, The Smell of Detroit, which opened in 2017. The growing line is flourishing – and in a league of its own — and Witherspoon is ensuring everybody, literally, puts on for his city.
“I just wanted to make a smell different from everybody,” the lifelong Eastside resident said of creating his popular product that Trina and Lil’ Bossie know about.
The Smell of Detroit, which has thousands of followers on Instagram and on Facebook, is described as a unique signature unisex fragrance that is popular in Detroit and throughout the nation. The local following is growing, however, nationally and internationally. Fans scrolling on the fragrance’s lines will come across countless locals and plenty others reppin’ none other than the fragrance that brings them back to the D.
The fragrance was introduced on local radio stations and is featured inside malls like Fairlane and throughout shops in Detroit.
The business idea and its launch and operation began over five years ago with Witherspoon working from home delivering to customers and now is selling the fragrance worldwide in places like Dubai.
The fragrance made comes in three sizes and three different bottles: a one ounce roll-on applicator at $10; a one-third ounce roll-on applicator at $20; and a four ounce spray perfume bottle at $40.
Witherspoon said that his business was inspired by an idea from his late cousin, Lisa Ford, who passed away at just 23 years old from a car accident in 2012.
“I was working a job and she was like, ‘You need to come up with something different; make a smell or something,” he said, adding that they mixed oils “back in the day” about seven years ago. She implanted the idea in 2016.”
Back then he was working at an automotive plant, and he looked up how to create smells.
Not one to simply clock in for the rest of his life, Witherspoon knew he had to do something more, and in honor of his cousin.
“I had to get out of the plant. I had to change my life,” he said, adding that working at the plant he was “still broke,” living check to check.
“I was always struggling,” he said, adding that when he started his business, he told himself that he “can’t come back” to the plant.
“I started working for myself,” he said, adding that his lucrative career as a rising entrepreneur has paid off handsomely for him.
He said that he and his team “put in the footwork” to go to different cities and take the smell everywhere they go.
“Now, different representatives everywhere, all over, are pushing the product,” he said, adding that when he meets people outside of Detroit, he appeals to their tourist side and encourages them to take home a piece of Detroit. “When we out of town [some] people never been to Detroit in California don’t know where Detroit is … when they smell this [fragrance], this smell is the first thing that hits them. … I like to say … it is our sauce. Wherever we go we got that, we got to spread.”
Back at home, he said, of course, a lot of locals love to buy from one of their own.
“Of course, this is home — so a lot of people… support anything Detroit, Black-owned for sure,” he said adding “the love is here.”
Dimi Johnson, a salesperson at The Smell of Detroit, said that she’s been a part of the fragrance company for the past three months.
“It smells really good,” Johnson said. “We go to stores, go out of town — just everywhere. I’m used to it now but everybody loves it.”
Johnson added that meeting other people and introducing them to the fragrance can “change somebody’s day.”
“Somebody having a bad day — it will literally change their day; make them smell better and feel better,” she added.
For more information find The Smell of Detroit on Instagram @thesmellofdetroit or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheSmellofDetroit/.