Life On Brand Jane Larson

Jane Larson, co-founder of the Sfumato joins us to talk about fragrances and her new scent/cocktail fusion bar. We discuss her story and what its like to be apart of the Detroit entrepreneurial scene. Jane talks co-founders and how the support of the small business community works together to support one another’s successes.

Today’s episode is the story of scent and other senses. We are talking to Jane Larson of the Sfumato fragrance team, whose fragrance brand and new scent/cocktail fusion bar are some of the latest additions to the downtown Detroit entrepreneurial scene. In addition to taking inspiration from Jane’s partnership story, we’ll also be getting insight into the thriving Detroit entrepreneurial spirit, hearing how the small business community works together to represent Detroit and proudly bring it back to prominence.

Started in 2013 by Jane and Kevin Peterson, the Sfumato Fragrance team is not only a business partnership, but it is also a husband and wife team. We are digging into how that works and how the couple is able to turn on and off the business relationship. Their business is unique because while Jane is the eyes and Kevin is the nose, they work together to create these inspired fragrances. While the idea of having a co-founder is appealing, the real trick is to have a co-founder you can work well with to run the business successfully.



Episode Highlights:

  • 2:17 How the Sfumato brick and mortar space in downtown Detroit came about.
  • 3:48 The story of how Jane and Kevin got their start in the fragrance business.
  • 4:45 The starting points for the sales of their new brand.
  • 5:20 How the e-commerce portion of the business grew “organically.”
  • 6:00 The origins of the business name they adopted.
  • 10:08 How Jane and Kevin found themselves becoming entrepreneurs.
  • 11:54 The unexpected moment they knew they were onto something.
  • 12:14 How the original business and subsequent tiers of the business growth have been a slower process.
  • 12:53 Where the couple finds inspiration for the scents and now the cocktails.
  • 14:27 The top fragrance that started the whole venture.
  • 16:11 How Jane as the artist creates a translation of the scent into something visual that the brand is trying to evoke.
  • 17:24 What “all natural” means for scent and what it means to the Sfumato brand.
  • 19:19 How their partnership helps grow the business.
  • 20:13 Challenges the team faced in getting where they are now.
  • 21:55 Tactics for keeping business and personal life separate.
  • 23:58 Qualities to look for in a business partner.
  • 25:31 How Jane identifies their partners in the fragrance market.
  • 26:48 Instances where the product didn’t work in certain collaborations.
  • 28:13 Views of building a brick and mortar in Detroit’s growing entrepreneurial scene.
  • 29:41 Detroit community programs that were instrumental in getting Sfumata and Castalia off the ground.
  • 32:51 How the idea for scent and taste came together for the brand.
  • 35:01 What superadditivity is all about and how the phenomenon triggers in your brain.
  • 37:07 How Jane defines success.
  • 37:39 Moments when doubt crept into the business building process for Jane.
  • 39:00 What they found surprisingly challenging when growing the business.
  • 39:51 What came more easily than Jane anticipated and what factored into that ease.
  • 41:42 One thing Jane would have done differently.
  • 42:31 Things the couple never focused on from the start in the playful process of a side gig and how those things have crept up on them as they’ve grown.
  • 44:13 The one song that captures the essence of Jane and the business.


Links and Resources:

Sfumato Fragrance
Build Institute
Tech Town Retail Boot Camp
Motor City Match
Detroit Development Fund
Life On Brand Webpage
DM on Instagram

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