By Silas Gisiora Nyanchwani
An Appreciation Post. And some bragging.
The first time I understood what the term ‘LANES’ means, was the day, feeling sufficiently romantic enough, I wanted to fetch the missus some good perfume for her birthday (could have been Valentine’s Day).
So, I walked to the perfume shop in Capital Centre, and asked around for a good, subtle, yet powerful scent available. The lady over there, bored to death, informed me that the cheapest perfume was around Sh 18,000. I was humbled as I had no intention or the money for such an extravagance. Feigning the usual “si mtakuwa kesho?”, I walked out, embarrassed, and humiliated. The lady attendant could not hide her disdain towards me for wasting her precious time. I think we later converted the measly few thousands I had into a good dinner date.
It is hard to come across good perfumes. Some people wear some strong perfumes, it can be a turn off. In fact, I have ever ghosted a girl, because I was allergic to her perfume preferences. But I still like people who are in tune with scents that match their temperament, and those who do not go for something that shouts.
Which brings me to Jakki Kerubo’s new collection of perfumes. First, about Jakki.
Sometime in late 2016 or early 2017, a friend in Netherlands called me in New York and told me that I should meet his awesome cousin. Since I like meeting new people, once the numbers were exchanged, I agreed to meet Jakki in Lower Manhattan for an evening drink.
She chose some quaint, quintessential New York bar for the meet up. She had had a late lunch and settled for a drink. Me, a hungry student, went for a burger, fries and a Stellar Artois (anyone who knows where this beer is sold in Nairobi, kindly contact me, pronto.).
And then, we talked. She is a writer. And a good one at that. Hence our discussion, took a decidedly literary bent. We talked about Chimamanda, NoViolet Bulawayo and the host of female writers who have put Africa on the map. One of those discussions that I live for, yet few people have the knowledge or the appreciation for literature.
Informing her of my literary ambitions, she invited me to a writer’s forum in some skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, and I joined some writers for an evening discussion. Later, we break into groups and I was able to read some yet to be published short story, that the group liked. I attended two or three of the meetings and then left New York for Nairobi. I have never thanked Jakki enough, as my fiction has remained in the closet, but the few guys who loved the story, warmed my heart a great deal. My anthology still lies somewhere in my archives, stillborn.
Next I am reading Jakki’s article in Longreads, a good essay on her growing up in Kenya, and her quest to be an America; a reflection of where she stands when events like the George Floyd murder happens. And soon afterwards, in the Mail & Guardian, SA, about life in New York in the time of Covid-19.
And then, she drops a bombshell: she has launched a niche fragrance line. Better still, the two fragrancies, ‘Seitho’ and ‘Naivasha Rose’
She recently told me, that for a perfumer, “creating a fragrance is telling a story and it is often personal.”
For the first perfume, Seitho, she has added the ‘h’ to the Kisii word for for home. And for the second one, don’t you just like roses; those beautiful, flowers that smell so good, yet have thorns to remind you of that life is pain.
She says, Seitho is structured as a cologne and though colognes generally lack tenacity as they are built around citruses, Seitho gives you all day freshness.
Now, let’s get technical, shall we?
Top notes include Bergamot, Mandarin, Lime; Middle notes include Star Anise, Jasmine, Ginger; and base notes include violet, Iso E Super (highly regarded as a pheromone, ahem), cedar atlas, frankincense, and more.
Naivasha Rose is a complex rose.
It’s built on the classic Chypre style (some of your fave classics from various houses are Chypre), but I made this one floral, with hints of leather from the sweet Labdanum and wetness from the Vetiver. It opens with the fruity, spicy pink peppercorn + bergamot; middle notes are rose, yang yang, and Lilly of the Valley; and base notes are labdanum, vetiver, cassis (one of my favorite smells!) and ivy.
Since she is honest and transparent, if you want to know the arcane intricacies of perfume making hit her up or DM her on INSTAGRAM handle WHISTLING THORN.
Since, she can’t ship to Kenya at the moment, I am asking for my friends in the diaspora, to try the sample sizes, see the attached photos before you commit to a full bottle. There is a $38 deal (save $7).
If you end up loving one of these samples and want a full bottle, you automatically qualify for the 15% discount. The delivery is free.
Follow link or CLICK HERE for purchase.
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