Forget Eau de Cologne, This Company’s Perfumes Smell Like “Dirt” and “Funeral Home”

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Fri, July 26th, 2013

Funeral Home, a scent by Demeter Fragrance Library, smells like a light flower bouquet with a touch of mahogany. (Photo Courtesy of Demeter Fragrance Library)

You lean in to kiss the lady you love and are overwhelmed by a rich floral fragrance you can’t quite put your finger on.

“My darling, are you wearing a new perfume?”

“Yes!” she replies, “It is Funeral Home, by Demeter.”

That’s right, Demeter Fragrance Library, a Long Island, New York-based fragrance company does things differently. Their 250 colognes and perfumes are inspired by everyday experiences and objects: Vanilla Cake Batter, Laundromat, Dirt.

“We are the anti-designer fragrance,” said CEO Mark Crames. “The industry launches 300 fragrances a year and 297 of them are the same, it’s variations on fruity floral and if you put in dragon fruit instead of lemon the industry thinks it’s a big breakthrough.”

Crames wants to democratize the fragrance industry.

Other Great Reads: A complete guide to funeral flowers

Perfumes and colognes shouldn’t be reserved just for big nights out, he said. Designer fragrance companies have, in essence, warped us into believing that fragrances should cost a lot and be very complex and used sparingly. But Crames believes there is also room for fragrances that are affordable and simple and used every day.

“The fragrance industry takes itself very seriously and is extraordinarily pretentious,” he said. “What we do is not brain surgery but the industry treats it as it is. I think as an industry we’d do well to get over ourselves.”

And what does the industry think of Demeter?

“From our inception in 1996 we have been considered one of the most creative forces in the industry,” said Crames. “We are now more focused on getting the word out to the consumers.”

Demeter sells most of their product through their website,, and also at select Rite Aids and Walgreens and various boutiques. The company sold almost 1,000,000 bottles in the last 12 months, according to Blair Crames, Demeter’s social media officer.

Their top three performing scents are presently Apple Blossom, Baby Powder and Cannabis Flower. Their Funeral Home cologne was launched in 1998 and has been a pretty consistent performer, presently it’s ranked at about 40th. A one ounce spray bottle of Funeral Home costs $20 on Demeter’s website, a four ounce spray bottle goes for $39.50.

And just who is wearing Funeral Home?

“It hits two kinds of people,” said Crames. “The main buyer is the gothic cohort if you will, it really fits right into that black nail polish thing. But it’s also older women, who appreciate it for the smell.”

The smell of funeral home, by the way is lilies, carnations, gladiolus, chrysanthemums and a touch of mahogany.

Other Great Reads: Houston’s giant flower of death blooms again

I asked Crames if he thought Americans had distanced themselves from the death process and if there was a certain beauty to funerals that was oft overlooked and whether Funeral Home the scent was trying to tap into some of those sentiments.

“We try not to go that deep,” replied Crames. “It’s more that we do great work with shocking names.”

Many Demeter fragrances end up surprising customers, who at first discount them because of the name then realize that the smell is actually quite nice.

“I get at least two emails a week asking why would we want to smell like dirt,” said Crames. “The answer is it smells great!”

“We think a great fragrance makes you smile every time you smell it,” added Crames. “And we need more smiles.”

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