The Magic of Chemistry: Mentors and Entrepreneurs Working Together to Concoct Dreams-Come-True
"One of the things I love most about mentoring," says David Broner, Certified Volunteer Mentor with the Southeast Michigan chapter of SCORE, "is that you never stop seeing new concepts come to life. You never stop learning. And entrepeneurism will never cease to amaze you."
Broner reminds us of those truths as he relates his latest mentoring relationship, that with Kevin Peterson, an entrepreneur with a unique, dual-concept endeavor. Peterson's "Jekyll and Hyde" ingenuity sees a young startup with two businesses in one: a fragrance manufacturer and retailer by day and a cocktail lounge by night—both in the same location!
During the daytime hours, Sfumato Fragrances creates scents from trees, flowers, herbs and spices. The brainchild is the manifestation of he and co-founder Jane Larson's "philosophical" preference for natural ingredients, over the synthetics prevalent in most modern scents. At night, the space is transformed into Castalia Cocktails, a cocktail lounge serving concoctions inspired by Sfumato's entirely natural fragrances. Both businesses are located in Midtown, Detroit, in the lower level of a Victorian mansion at 3980 Second Avenue.
"Kevin is the nose of the company," Jane says, "blending our compositions by engaging olfactory skills honed in the culinary world."
"Jane is the eyes," Kevin points out, "using her background in art and design to create the visual aesthetic."
Night and Day
The flagship Sfumato retail space serves as a venue for consulting, hosting classes, and events, as well as stocking its signature line of natural fragrances, essential oils, incense, books, cocktail bitters, and other items in the realm of scent. Castalia serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails based on Sfumato fragrances using liqueurs, spirits and in-house tinctures. Each drink is accompanied by a scent, creating an elevated experience in an intimate sanctuary for the senses.
"Kevin is totally a smart, engineer-type of guy," Broner says. "He became an engineer and was working at Roush when he decided to pursue his dream of business ownership. He transposed what I would describe as a cave-appearing space in Midtown into two complimentary enterprises that truly captivate the senses in every way."
The businesses have been featured in the New York Times, Detroit Free Press, Crain's Detroit Business, Fox-2 News and many other news outlets, blogs, podcasts and websites. The entepreneurial couple has the chemistry, the magic and the science to make this young business into much more than an experiment!
Why We Mentor
Broner says that Peterson is a walking, talking example of why he enjoys mentoring so much. Not only do mentors get to continually new learn things, experience new ideas, and help counsel new innovators, we get to work with true partners who value the mentor-mentee relationship as much as SCORE mentors do.
"Another reason I enjoy being a SCORE business mentor is the magic that happens when youthful exhuberance meets road-weary experience," Broner adds. "That's the true chemistry—pardon the pun. But it really is true: Working together works!"