One of the best parts about working in the clothing industry is that it’s allowed me to learn even more about my favorite brands and connect with the people behind them. It can be a lot of fun to obsess over cool products, but it’s even more fun when you can do it with the people that made them. That’s what I’ve been up to with my friends at Juniper Ridge, and after visiting their Oakland headquarters I was able to learn even more about my favorite fragrance company.
If you’re not familiar with Juniper Ridge, you can read more in my previous profile here. In short, this company is making fragrances and grooming products out of natural materials harvested from the wilderness of the West Coast. JR’s products don’t just evoke the idea of the outdoors, they are the outdoors. Each raw material is carefully harvested, processed, and mixed to create complex scents that evoke much more than the smells of the greenery in a certain location, but the more ethereal smells as well – the smell of wet rocks on the bank of a river, the salt air in Big Sur, the sun in the branches of a conifer tree, and more. I’ve been using their products daily for a while now and I’m totally hooked.
Their lab is like a farmer’s market that crashed into a Breaking Bad episode; chemistry tools and glass beakers sit next to crock pots and jugs full of moss and flowers. Vats of essential oils, barrels of twigs, and drying racks full of tiny flowers are scattered around the space. The sight – and smell – of it is truly something to behold.
The lab is particularly fascinating because of JR’s commitment to doing every part of the process on their own – from the R&D and collection of raw materials, to the packaging and artwork. That vertical integration has allowed them to keep their phenomenally time- and labor-intensive products at a reasonable price. All told, I love what JR does and the passion they put in to their products. It’s been great to watch the brand get the recognition they deserve over the past couple of years, and I’m excited to see what they accomplish in the years to come.
In the meantime, here’s a quick glimpse into what goes on behind the curtain:
Flowers are dried before becoming part of this year’s Topanga Canyon limited release.
These beakers contain the fragrances for the Big Sur scent.
Moss, leaves, flowers, bark, mushrooms, and more – all forms of vegetal matter find their way into these products.
Fragrances are mixed with beeswax and jojoba oil before being poured by hand into these tins for the Trail Resin Cologne.
Tom, JR’s lead chemist, measures fragrance ingredients before mixing with beeswax and jojoba oil.
Trail Resin in its final form.
Big Sur by the barrel.
Branches to be used for the cologne caps.
The finished product.