STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Imagine catching a whiff of the Homecoming bonfire as you stroll through campus on a crisp fall evening. Or the sweet scent of spring flowers as you sit in the shade of one of the 254 oak trees at Tarleton State University.
What if you could buy all of that goodness in a bottle?
You can, and it’s available in two signature scents making their retail debut April 17 at the Texans Campus Bookstore just in time for Founder’s Week. Or, order today at www.PortalParfums.com.
Developed by alums Fisher Rinderknecht and Brady Witcher, the custom fragrances combine notes of leather, cedar, smoke, oak, iris, petrichor and sweet grass to capture a certain essence and nostalgia of Tarleton.
Bloom Parfum interprets the university’s growth from grassy field to beautiful campus with its powdery floral top note that hints of the Tarleton Iris. Sweet grass and petrichor evoke an earthy smell after rain, while iris root and creamy sandalwood round out the fragrance.
Rustic, earthy and woody, 1899 Parfum pays tribute to the Homecoming bonfire with notes of smoke and citrus, the hint of leather that gives a nod to rodeo and western heritage, and a grounding experience of oak wood.
“The main challenge in developing the scents was what notes made sense, figuring out what would best represent Tarleton’s rich history, and then how to combine them in ways that were both complex and accessible,” said Rinderknecht, a 2017 graduate of the College of Business.
“We knew we wanted to do two main scents, but we didn’t want to do straight up men’s or women’s cologne — we wanted them to be a little more gender neutral. I think 1899 leans a little more masculine and Bloom leans a little more feminine, but we wanted them to be accessible — fragrance should have no gender.”
Rinderknecht and Witcher are no strangers to entrepreneurship — their first business, Flight Reach Productions, has served commercial photography clients across Texas for more than six years. Their hobby of mixing fragrance oils and making scented candles led them to found Portal Parfums, and they launched their first candle collection last December.
Since then, they have debuted several scents, along with marble and onyx vessels, and have collaborated with other businesses to create custom fragrances.
Last June a post on the Tarleton alumni Facebook page seeking an alumnus who makes custom perfumes caught their attention. Soon they were meeting with Lindsay Laurent of Collegiate Licensing Co. and Lindsay Hope, Tarleton Manager of Licensing and Trademarks.
“He did not come empty-handed; he brought multiple oils to show us what kinds of scents could be mixed and how they would interact with one another,” Hope said of Rinderknecht. “I had no idea what the differences were between different colognes and perfumes. He had put so much thought into it, and the sincerity was apparent.
“It was even more special that he’s an alumnus. He understands Tarleton, and that made all the difference. We thought something that captured the spring and fall semesters would be fitting. It was Fisher who suggested adding a bonfire smell to the fall scent in addition to the oak and leather. We loved the idea.”
As the marketing team brainstormed a list of names, “Bloom” and “1899” stood out.
“Tarleton has not only blossomed but has been forging strong traditions since 1899,” Hope reasoned. “With the Tarleton Iris, beauty and growth of the campus, champion rodeo teams and location in the Cowboy Capital of the World, it all felt very fitting.”
Rinderknecht said this has been kind of a full-circle project for the Tarleton business grads, who lived in Stephenville for over eight years before moving to Dallas. Flight Reach Productions won the 2017 Entrepreneurs of Erath contest, a collaboration of Tarleton’s College of Business and the university’s Small Business Development Center, the Stephenville Economic Development Foundation, the Stephenville Economic Development Authority, the Dublin Economic Development Center and the city of Stephenville.
“Tarleton has ties to both of our businesses and is kicking off this new branch for us with the perfume, with this focus on the university interpretation,” he said. “We are hoping to recreate this, and hopefully Tarleton is the first of many schools we will create for.”
The Tarleton scents are their third collaboration. They also developed custom scents for Hearsay Wine Bar in Stephenville and Donaho Real Estate Group in nearby Bluff Dale, as well as one for a sound meditation healer who uses them with clients.
“We’re doing some cool stuff, and that’s what’s been so interesting and exciting — interpreting these different businesses and organizations through fragrance components, sitting down with people and figuring out what really represents them and their brand through scent. It gives them a unique opportunity to market themselves. People have had an interest in all of our collaborations, and there’s been lots of engagement from their clients and customers.”A founding member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of more than 16,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, A&M RELLIS at Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity, and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.