Source Adage: Scents of Place

A home fragrance brand takes root in Hudson, New York. While co-founder Robert Dobay helped customers, we spoke with his partner Christopher Draghi about the pair’s newest venture.

The husband and husband duo Christopher Draghi and Robert Dobay have worked for years helping hotels and lifestyle lines with creative direction, brand identity, and design. It’s only natural—inevitable, even—that they’d come up with something of their own. “We’ve done a lot of fragrance work with hotels developing signature scents for their lobbies and guest rooms,” Draghi says. “That was always such a fun process and we wondered if we might have something of our own to contribute to the fragrance world.” The pair noticed that the majority of home fragrances are directed to female customers, but felt certain that they could appeal to men (and women) with a line with more masculine oriented scents in design forward packaging.

Christopher Draghi and Robert Dobay

A year of developing, designing, and lots of smell testing has resulted in Source Adage, a Hudson, New York retail shop selling a collection of six ambient scents. Customers can choose between sprays, candles, and diffusers; the latter two come in neoclassical black vessels. The scents are inspired by the natural landscape of American regions; each regional scent is layered with different notes to evoke a moment in time, whether it’s a New England winter’s night or a hike in the desert.

The couple worked closely with a Brooklyn-based perfumer. But first, they chose a photo that captured the spirit of each region and studied everything from the emotional feel of the landscape to the plant life and topography featured within the photos. “We went to him with a list of ingredients we thought made sense for each region and then he’d pull those together, make some additions and subtractions and present us with a first draft,” Draghi says. North Atlantic scent brings up a cold wintery night with cedar wood, smoke, caramelized sap and clover honey. Southwest leads with notes of dried wood and vetiver, with fennel and coriander woven in. Their flagship fragrance, Hudson 314 marries earthy notes of clay with wild flowers and mature orchard fruit.

North Atlantic scents

None of the scents lead with a strong floral note, something the duo think will make Source Adage especially appealing to male clientele. “With our Southern States scent, we wanted to capture the boozy and intoxicating feel of a sultry Southern night. So instead of using magnolia and orange blossom, we went moodier with bourbon, dark fruit notes, a touch of hide, musk, and even tar.”

Scent selection itself is deeply personal and the Hudson, NY location of Source Adage allows customers to find what works best for them. “Our six fragrances have significant variety in terms of their intensity and scent density,” Draghi explains. “But a scent resonates with you or it doesn’t at all. We find most customers come in and find two scents that they’re drawn to.”

The store’s location was a happy accident. The duo first visited Hudson a year ago, encouraged by friends and glowing write-ups, but, mostly “to check it off the box,” as Draghi admits. Instead of a kitschy, faux-quaint town, they found a small but vibrant creative community in a beautiful setting. They bought up a 1830s Greek Revival on the main drag, sold their spot in Brooklyn, and got to work renovating the first floor storefront and the upstairs apartment, where they now live.

North Atlantic furniture design

The stores’ interior is layered in greys and each scent has its own display space, complete with region-appropriate furniture and a few inspired items.

The couple swap out fragrances upstairs every few months. Do they have a favorite? “Oh, I couldn’t really say, they’re all like children to us at this point,” Draghi says with a laugh, emphasizing how personal the project has been for them. “When you’re working Monday through Sunday, you better love what you’re doing.”

Photos by Allie Leepson.