Scent Lab Secures Seed Funding, Brings On Bulletin’s Ali Kriegsman As Co-Founder And CMO

As gen Z consumers reject signature fragrances in favor of picking scents based on moods, seasons, outfits and preferred identity traits of the moment, customization concept Scent Lab is vying to be their go-to brand for continual change—and it’s bolstered its talent and bank account to become it.

Scent Lab has brought on board Ali Kriegsman, former COO and co-founder of Bulletin, the retail and wholesale marketplace startup that sold to Emerald Holding in 2022, as co-founder and CMO and raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. Investors in its seed round include Midnight Venture Partners, backer of Olipop and Jolie, and Palm Tree Crew, backer of Poppi and Daring Foods. Scent Lab previously raised roughly $500,000 in pre-seed funding. It participated in Techstars and XRC Ventures accelerator programs.

“Investing in early-stage brands like Scent Lab is all about spotting genuine innovation and a solid commitment to values that matter. Scent Lab caught our attention because they’re doing something different in the crowded fragrance market—they’re making fragrance personal again,” says Chris Aydam, co-founder and managing partner at Midnight Venture Partners. “Their approach challenges the status quo, making them a standout in my book. It’s their mix of innovation, non-toxic ingredients and market potential that made Scent Lab a clear choice for our investment.”

The seed funding will go toward product development, distribution expansion, marketing and digital improvement. Scent Lab’s website is slated for a renovation, and it plans to increase its influencer relationships and presence on TikTok and Instagram. In 2024, the brand expects its sales to climb 200% and be profitable.

Scent Lab has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. The brand has generated nearly $1 million in sales and spent $150,000 on marketing, Within a 90-day period, 40% of its customers return to repurchase. Ariana Silvestro

To date, 95% of Scent Lab’s sales have been in direct-to-consumer distribution, although it previously tested retail at Neighborhood Goods. On its site, Scent Lab invites consumers to take a 60-second, 15-question quiz to pin down their scent inclinations and inform candle recommendations. It’s amassed over 30,000 scent profiles.

Scent Lab has 50 different $45 candles available at any given time, and half of them switch up every 90 days. Among the candle scents popular today are Lemon Fizz, Cheeky Rose and Pistachio Dream. Scent Lab customers can select from four jar colors (black, ivory, pink and dark green), and pink is the bestseller.

“They’re making fragrance personal again.”

For her step after Bulletin, Kriegsman, who authored the book “How to Build a Goddamn Empire,” wanted to help guide a product-based business, and Scent Lab CEO and co-founder Ariana Silvestro’s can-do attitude and the brand’s gen Z appeal in a category that’s been on fire were enticing. Referring to Silvestro, Kriegsman says, “I’m very drawn to people’s work ethic and personalities and the chemistry we have together, and I feel really lucky that I found that in her.”

Silvestro initially connected with Kriegsman in 2021 for advisory purposes with a cold direct message while Scent Lab was in its beta phase, which it emerged from in late 2022. Prior to Scent Lab, Silvestro was head of strategy and marketing at dental services provider Dntl Bar and retail consumer insights lead at Bath & Body Works.

Scent Lab co-founder and CEO Ariana Silvestro and Scent Lab co-founder and CMO Ali Kriegsman Raashi Desai

About 70% of Scent Lab’s customers are gen Z or young millennials, and Kriegsman notes that the fragrance category has risen 60% from pre-pandemic levels and 13% on average annually. The brand has generated nearly $1 million in sales and spent $150,000 on marketing. Within a 90-day period, 40% of its customers return to repurchase.

“There’s so much opportunity to keep elevating and extending the brand. I love the idea of this immersive scent world and how that can show up on the website. You can make a UX/UI journey through the website feel unlike any other scent discovery experience,” says Kriegsman. “I love how that might show up on social or with influencers and events. So, I felt like the brand was very ripe and juicy, and I just wanted to do more.”

“There’s so much opportunity to keep elevating and extending the brand.”

Speaking of gen Z, she adds, “This consumer is just gobbling up fragrance left and right whether it is candles, perfume, body lotions, and they’re mix and matching them to create their own proprietary scent. Gen Z fragrance consumption across all categories was up 21% in 2022. In 2023, 80% of gen consumers said they consume fragrance in some way, shape or form on a daily basis, which is insane. They’re using it as more of this self-expression tool the same way that this demo is thrifting from three different places, buying on Depop and then drenching themselves in jewelry from Ssense.”

To reach gen Z consumers beyond screens, Scent Lab is leaning into events—it recently hosted one at Savino’s Quality Pasta, an Italian eatery in the Brooklyn neighborhood Williamsburg where attendees could concoct a custom scent and a custom pasta dish—and retail. Despite being digital natives, gen Z consumers enjoy shopping in-person. Silvestro and Kriegsman foresee Scent Lab entering mass retail with an IRL version of its online customization.

A portion of Scent Lab’s seed funding will go toward escalating its IRL presence with events and retail distribution. The brand recently hosted an event at the Italian eatery Savino’s Quality Pasta in the Brooklyn neighborhood Williamsburg, where attendees concocted custom scents and pasta dishes.

“When we talk to retailers, what excites them and also what we pitch is the experiential component. It’s very hands-on when a customer sees Scent Lab in a store. It’s like they’re visiting the Scent Lab to create their own product,” says Silvestro. “That inherently is an experience that engages the customer. It also creates a lot of user-generated content for the retailer. People are posting that they’re in a retailer making this product. It’s a way to drive traffic that’s really differentiated versus just smelling a bunch of perfumes or a bunch of candles.”

To enlarge its merchandise footprint, Scent Lab will branch into personal fragrances in the summer with a play that speaks to gen Z’s scent wardrobing habits. Ultimately, Scent Lab anticipates spreading into an array of fragrance-related product areas.

“One of the biggest takeaways that I know from my time at Bath & Body Works is that, when someone loves a scent, they want to douse themselves in that fragrance, whether that be in a candle, a perfume, a body lotion, a shower gel, they just want to literally surround themselves with it,” says Silvestro. “As I think about building a fragrance brand for gen Z consumers, it’s really important to be cross-category, so beyond just perfume and candles and into body care like shower gels, lotions, etc., to give our customers a full suite of the products.”