Down to the Root: Boy Smells’ Matthew Herman Wants the World to be Genderful

This Pride month we’re featuring a few of our favorite creators (in this special edition a brand founder!), getting to know them offline, and tapping into their hair tips and tricks. We spoke with Matthew Herman, co-founder of the candle company Boy Smells. He touches on how his company goes beyond gorgeous candles and scents to push boundaries and challenge people to think beyond accepted gender norms.

Table of Contents

    Background check

    How did Boy Smells come to be? Was scent/candles something you were always passionate about?

    Boy Smells began in 2016 as a candle-making and scent experiment in my co-founder and partner David and I’s Los Angeles kitchen. We started this company as a recreational side project. Calling it Boy Smells and putting it in a pink box was intentionally provocative. The branding is supposed to challenge your gender assumptions. Scent is a sacred and intimate part of your daily ritual and in my life it has been a way to articulate identity and an opportunity for self exploration.

    What makes Boy Smells different and stand out in its market?

    Gender and identity are no longer static parts of a person’s life. It’s about playing and discovering new sides of yourself, trying different ways of moving through life. These days people wear many hats and play many roles. We aim to create products that represent the beauty of being multifaceted.


    We are known for our signature combinations of masculine and feminine olfactive notes, candles that are scented for dismantling binary ideas around gender and scent. If we can incorporate these subtle cultural shifts in the products we use everyday, it encourages people to live in their full spectrum without compromise. At Boy Smells this is our core principle. We call it GENDERFUL, tapping into the masculine and feminine simultaneously. It’s the opposite of genderless and goes beyond the binary. Unleash your power from wherever you find it, I say.

    What values do Boy Smells strive to hold?

    We love Genderfulness. Rather than being a blank slate, which terms like genderless or unisex imply, we prefer to to embrace masculinity, femininity, and everything in between. We embrace gender-sphericity rather than gender-linearity. We are pro-gender-multiplicity. I really believe this spectrum resides in everyone and can be explored, embraced, and celebrated to your benefit and contribute to a life more fully realized. We’re all a mix of unique qualities and have the ability to tap into a personal mixology of power. And, our goal is to channel this modern sense of identity into the products closest to us.

    Think fast

    Who makes you feel most yourself?

    I make myself feel most myself—but it’s taken me many years to get there! Old friends who know me well and who are interested in growth and personal development also make me feel very present in myself.

    What is something you can’t live without doing every day?

    There’s a couple of things—coffee, dog snuggles, good sleep, and exercise.


    When do you feel the most challenged?

    When I am overwhelmed. Life as a business owner and entrepreneur is always about pushing your bandwidth. That has its benefits and its drawbacks.

    Where do you feel most at home?

    Reading a book in bed on the weekend.


    Why do you do what you do, professionally speaking?

    I like being my own boss and building relationships with our community. I also like what a company can mean for a consumer, beyond just the product—but product is important, too. I enjoy building our team and providing a livelihood for our employees. It’s all very fulfilling.

    Hairy details

    What’s your hair routine like? Are you a minimalist or maximalist when it comes to your strands?

    I wash my hair twice a week, and style it with conditioner or maybe a face oil. Sometimes I use a hair mask as a styling cream, too. For me, it is really approaching styling from a nourishing perspective. Healthy hair is the lewwk for me.

    Do you have any beauty hacks that you think people should know about?

    Yes! I like to mix my toner with a vitamin C serum or a mild acid, then follow up with a face oil mixed with a peptide serum. This cuts down my routine to two steps and makes my skin look great.