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Though Laura Slatkin, founder of NEST New York—the iconic brand known for its chic packaging and heavenly scents—has been working in the fragrance industry for more than 25 years, she readily admits she wasn’t always a candle connoisseur. There was a time many years ago when “I had no idea what a scented candle was,” she explains.

“It all started after I married my husband, Harry. Harry’s brother, Howard, was an extremely talented interior designer and had a beautiful shop in Manhattan. Howard always felt that the final touch on a beautifully decorated home was a wonderful home fragrance, and he hand-poured candles for his clients, picking their favorite flower or fruits to create their own personal scent.” Laura and her husband realized Howard was probably on to something.

They left their Wall Street jobs to start their own fragrance brand in 1992, designing luxury home fragrance collections for companies like Ralph Lauren, Dior, Tory Burch, NARS and Laura Mercier. But Laura always felt a yearning to create her own brand. Eventually, in 2005, NEST New York was born.

NEST New York allows you to “scent the mood” no matter your fragrance preference (although bestsellers include scents like Amalfi Lemon & Mint, Moroccan Amber, and Ocean Mist & Sea Salt). We spoke with Laura to learn more about the power of scent—plus which NEST New York guarantees the happiest of moods.

NEST New York is known for its Grapefruit scent. What mood or feeling does it convey? Is there a particular space in the home you think is best for this scent?

Our Grapefruit candle, which is known for its sophisticated blend of pink pomelo grapefruit, coriander blossoms, and a hint of lily of the valley, is an invigorating, refreshing, and uplifting fragrance. I always burn Grapefruit in my living room when I am entertaining. Everyone loves Grapefruit—it’s a crowd-pleaser. It’s absolutely my go-to fragrance when I want to ensure that my guests are in the happiest of moods.

We're all about leveraging design elements and cues to create a distinct feeling in home. How can scent play a role in establishing different moods?

Each one of our fragrances has a distinct personality, and each one of them creates a different mood. Our Rose Noir & Oud creates a sultry, seductive, and sexy mood in your home. Our Bamboo fragrance, a beautiful white floral with an abundance of green notes, is welcoming and inviting. Cedar Leaf & Lavender creates a calming spa aroma. Moroccan Amber is spicy and creates more of an exotic mood. I have been burning our new Blue Cypress & Snow fragrance in my bedroom. It creates an enveloping, cozy, and comforting mood—perfect for when I want to curl up and watch a good movie. At NEST New York we pride ourselves on tapping all the fragrance categories to create the appropriate mood that complements your home.

At Havenly we believe everyone has a unique style, and that more often than not, people have multiple style types. Do you find the same to be true with fragrances?

True home fragrance aficionados love to fragrance wardrobe, burning different types of fragrances depending up on what kind of mood they want to create and which room they are fragrancing. 

Some choose a signature scent they adore, and we can’t get them to try anything else—and that’s okay. I’ve learned that if someone loves Bamboo—don’t even try. They are not going to burn any other scent in their home; it’s our #1 fragrance for a reason.

How do you use scent to celebrate special moments?

Celebrating with fragrance is so easy at NEST New York. When a special holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas comes along, we have the quintessential fragrances that tap all of one’s olfactive memories to make those holiday moments pure perfection. Pumpkin Chai is a favorite to celebrate fall, and it’s appropriate right up to Thanksgiving when we roll right into the holiday season with our award-winning Festive Collection consisting of Holiday, Birchwood Pine, Hearth, and Blue Cypress & Snow.

Scent is deeply associated with memory. What are some scents that evoke the strongest memories for you?

All of my fragrances are inspired by meaningful memories and circumstances that cause me to ring up my perfumers with a great new idea. I’ll never forget the time I was entertaining forty women in my home for a buffet dinner. We prepared an amazing Mediterranean buffet with the most aromatic dishes. When I opened up the dining room doors, a guest exclaimed “It smells so good in here! What candle is burning?” It wasn’t a candle—it was the food. The next morning, I gathered all the spices that went into preparing the various dishes, and those ingredients served as the inspiration to create Moroccan Amber—one of our top-selling fragrances.

In general, which types of scents do you believe go best with certain rooms in the house?

I like my guests to open the front door and be greeted with a welcoming floral. I think a pretty floral fragrance says hello in the most thoughtful way. My living room is always scented with a happy citrus scent, and we have quite a few to choose from. In my kitchen, I use a gourmand fragrance or a refreshing fragrance like our Lemongrass & Ginger. The bedroom is scented with sultry fragrances, and the bathroom inspires a relaxing spa moment. In my powder room, I like to surprise my guests with something highly unusual that they might like or not like—but it’s always a wow scent that one would never expect. The library is fragranced with something woody or cozy. I like to create moods that reflect a room’s personality or purpose.

What’s your favorite NEST New York scent? What’s your favorite scent in the world?

My favorite NEST New York scent was discontinued ten years ago because nobody liked it. It was called Beeswax and Whipped Cream. It was honey, steamed rice, and all these yummy creamy gourmand notes—it was heaven on earth. Maybe it was the name?! My favorite scent in the world is the aroma of cookies baking in the oven. Specifically, my oatmeal raisin cookies made with roasted pecans. There is a stack of them in my kitchen at all times.

Scent sets the stage for great design. Take our style quiz to find out how to tie it all together.

Words by Havenly Staff