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Stephanie Suganami Shepherd, known on Instagram as Steph Shep, says she chronicles the different chapters in her life through fragrance: "Some women cut their hair, and I just change a fragrance," she says.
That's why it was so important that she create a unique scent that could be "worn and loved by everyone and anyone" when working with Snif, a fragrance company that is all about clean ingredients, genderless scents, and accessible prices.
Suganami, Steph's fragrance made to be worn by all gender identities, is "so unique," she says. "That's what I love about it. It's not like anything anyone else has ever smelled. That's the feedback we're getting."
The scent is inspired by Steph's carefree days in her mid-20s, "mobbing through Paris" with her best friends. In addition to carefree, she would describe the peppery, floral, earthy amber scent as sensual and sophisticated. "It makes me feel very grounded and powerful," she says.
Experiencing this scent is like taking a journey, says Steph, as each note has its time to shine. Steph's favorite part of that journey?
"The next day," she says. "When you can smell it on your clothes. You know when you smell clothes and they smell like someone and you know who that is? It brings up so many feelings and that's what I love. It moves. It's fluid. It tells a story throughout the entire time you're wearing it."
Known for her work in the environmental education and sustainability space, Steph worked with the Snif team to ensure the scent's packaging is 100% compostable.
"This will be my fragrance for the rest of my life," says Steph. Scroll below to experience Suganami, smell like Stephanie Shepherd, and read more from our interview with her.
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Steph Shep says this gender-fluid fragrance is "very sensual. It's very sophisticated." She describes the scent as "these peppery notes that are very unique, and then it takes you down this powdery path to a rose and iris which is the florals that kind of soften it a bit. Once you've lived in it and worn it and smelled it on your clothes the next day it mellows into this really yummy, earthy amber and a little light hint of cedar wood. It's just this yumminess."
"I think we nailed it," she says. "It's my favorite fragrance. I've been wearing it for the past year. I'm just so excited now that other people can try it."
The best part? This packaging is 100% recyclable and 100% compostable. It's made from 40% post-consumer material, and the fragrance is vegan and cruelty-free.
E!: You said you've been wearing this for the past year. Has it become a signature fragrance for you?
"Oh, for sure. For sure. It's so funny. I've kind of chronicled my life through fragrance. Whether it be the end of a chapter, the beginning of another one, I think it also correlates to the relationships I'm in. Once I break up with someone, I choose a new fragrance. Some women cut their hair, and I just change a fragrance.
It's really cool to have this journey of self-reflection looking back on past fragrances and the kind of vibes I was into and now this one in this new stage of my life. To have this new fragrance that I got to make that is so deeply personal and special to me, this will be my fragrance for the rest of my life."
E!: Does this scent evoke any specific memories for you?
"I think the inspiration for this was this chapter of my life where I was just having the best time. It was my mid-20s. I was carefree. I didn't have the adult responsibilities that I have now. I didn't have the weight of the world on my shoulders like we all feel.
I was just mobbing through Paris with my friends, Paris Fashion Week. We were going out. It was pre-social media. We were just having a great time and enjoying the experience of a new adventure together.
I just really wanted to encapsulate that and the smells and the feelings from that time and kind of blend them together and make this new fragrance. I think we did that exactly.
Yeah, I definitely think I'll categorize this time in my life with this fragrance. It'll be interesting to see how that makes me feel 10 years from now."
E!: I heard you say carefree. Are there any other feelings that this scent evokes for you?
"Yeah, it definitely takes me to that carefree place where I was out of my head and just feeling empowered, but then at the same time with those earthy notes, it makes me feel very grounded and powerful. It's a very sophisticated scent."
E!: I love having something, whether it's a fragrance or a beauty product, to ground me and make me feel more confident.
"Totally, it's like a comfort. Even in your beauty routine, I find it's like the cherry on top at the end of all of the things I do from skincare to hair to nails. Before I go out the door, I love to just make sure I have perfume on because it feels like a representation of the scent I'm using to show the world who I am. I love that this is my scent because it's so special and so unique.
It's so good. We did such a good job, I have to say."
E!: I know this is a tough question, but can you sum the scent up in one word?
"I would say sophisticated. That's what I love about this fragrance in particular. It has such a full body. It truly does take you on this journey. You really get to touch on all the different notes. Sometimes, I feel like you don't really notice those intricacies in a fragrance, but this one really takes you on the journey.
My favorite part is the next day when you can smell it on your clothes. You know when you smell clothes and they smell like someone and you know who that is? It brings up so many feelings and that's what I love. It moves. It's fluid. It tells a story throughout the entire time you're wearing it."
E!: I love putting on a sweater that I haven't worn in a while and it still kind of smells like the fragrance I was wearing.
"That's my favorite part. Every time I say it, I'm like do I sound so creepy? I'm smelling my man's shirts because they smell like him. It's so powerful. I love that part, for sure."
E!: Have any of your friends tried out this scent? What do they think?
"They have. I actually really just worked on this with the Snif team and I didn't outsource any opinions. No one had smelled the scent before it came out, so everyone was getting it in real time.
I was nervous because my friends are pretty tough critics, but I just got a text message last night from one of my best friends, and he was like wait this scent is actually the best scent I've ever smelled. I was like, thank you, because it's nerve-racking to put something out in the world. Obviously you hope that people like it, but if you like it then that's enough. To have that seal of approval from people you hold in really high regard, it just makes it that much better. They all love it. My girlfriends love it. I'm really so happy with this project. It's truly a labor of love."
E!: We talked about signature scents, were they like, oh, we get it, when they smelled this?
"Totally. We never really talked about what we wear. And they were like this smells like you. It smells like what you would make. I'm just thrilled."
E!: What trends are you seeing in fragrance right now? Did you tap into any of those trends while creating this fragrance?
"One of the biggest trends we're seeing is this gender-fluidity of fragrance and scent notes that were maybe traditionally associated with a specific gender. You know, like, perfume for women and cologne for men, it's such an outdated concept. I always gravitated toward the traditional cologne scents. That's kind of where I always lived and where I always shopped. I just think that people want to find scents that they love instead of being told what types of scents they should wear based on their gender identity. It's such an outdated concept. Getting to do this collaboration with Snif and to fully remove gender from the conversation is incredible and such a forward-thinking way to approach any type of product. I love that Suganami is designed to be worn and loved by everyone and anyone."
E!: One of my favorite scents combines apple with tobacco.
"Oh, love. And that's not something that would typically be marketed to you, and I just think it's so silly. These marketing teams that are telling us we have to subscribe to a certain type of scent just because of our gender, it's very outdated. I lean toward menswear. We like what we like and I don't think it has to be confined to gender identity."