Behind the Scents at Denatured Lab

The innovative boutique aims to educate those looking to make a connection with fragrance and lift the veil off the perfume industry.

“We take scents for granted,” says Tom Jansen, French trained perfumer and owner of the Exchange District’s recently opened olfactory boutique Denatured Lab. 

Growing up, he loved fragrance and always knew that he wanted to make a career of it. That dream started to become a reality when he launched Coal and Canary with his best friend Amanda Buhse, a hobby turned successful business which went stratospheric when they were featured in celebrity gift bags at the 2015 Academy Awards.

Then, in 2018, he was one of twelve people accepted into the intensive program at the prestigious perfumery school in Grasse, France. There he studied the chemistry of fragrance, olfactory recognition and how to create accords out of 2000 raw materials—500 of which he now keeps stocked in his lab.  

The vision for Denatured Lab had been swirling around his brain for a long time, and though it seems counterintuitive to open a physical space during a pandemic, it was the only thing left to do. Once finishing his training in France, he said goodbye to the rose fields of Dior and sold his shares in Coal and Canary to pursue his career as a perfumer in London, England. But as so many stories go these days, along came COVID and his time there was cut short. 

Back on this side of the Atlantic, he had to build from the bottom up, and the Exchange District was the place to do it.

“I love the character of the Exchange. I couldn’t envision this anywhere else.”

Denatured Lab’s space was actually once home to a Coal and Canary pop-up in 2017 so he knew it would be the perfect fit for his vision. 

Jansen explains that his goal with Denatured Lab is to lift the veil off the perfume industry and reconnect curious noses with their sense of smell. Its airy heritage space houses a unique concept: open-access perfume lab, olfactory workshop and lifestyle boutique. This harmonious blend creates a truly immersive experience for anyone who finds themselves browsing the hand-poured candles, stationary items, home accessories, and of course, luxe fragrances stocked in the retail corner. 

“There’s so much people don’t know about the industry,” he notes, listing off some everyday household products that most don’t realize are created by perfumers, such as shampoo or laundry detergent. 

Educational perfume creation workshops are the first of its kind in the city, guiding customers through each step until they’ve bottled up their own signature scent in a chic minimalist vessel. Jansen’s passion for perfumery is infectious, reminding us of the joy that smells bring to our daily lives. Along with custom fragrances, Jansen has also released Lab Work, Denatured’s own line of seasonally inspired eau de parfum which focuses on a specific ingredient. Bergamot—the spring release—is zesty and refreshing, grounded with notes of amber woods and fir balsam. 

Another exciting launch is on the Horizon for summer, a project he’s been working on with Buhse for years and can’t wait to release. Without revealing too much, Jansen said the launch will have the uniqueness of niche perfumes but a mass market appeal. Stay tuned!

Denatured Lab is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am-6 pm at 73 Princess St.