Underhill Cologne | Photo by Misc. Goods Co.
Underhill Cologne | Photo by Misc. Goods Co.

Designer Tyler Deeb said he has never been busier but also never so serene under so many stressors. The owner of Misc. Goods Co. is rolling out a new product, landing old products in new stores and balancing the duties of having four small children.

Recently Deeb’s custom-designed playing cards were picked up for stock by high-end retailers West Elm and Restoration Hardware. Earlier this year, most of his product line was featured in carefully curated pop-up shops in Nordstrom stores.

Also, there has been renewed interest in Misc. Goods Co.’s Coil coffee chiller, which might be put back into production. It is currently out of stock.

While at a trade show in Los Angeles called Coeur, Deeb met a perfumer from London at a nearby booth. Each of her scents came with a story, usually about destinations both in place and time the smells were meant to evoke (think “a brothel in Paris in 1927”). The two kept in touch, and Deeb spent a while mulling over how he would like to collaborate with her.

Deeb is not really a cologne kind of guy. He doesn’t wear it, he doesn’t gel his hair or wear body spray.

“In fact, if I smell like anything, it’s probably B.O.,” he joked.

But the storytelling aspect of scent development intrigued him, and he started collecting scents from the perfumer to test them.

The story Deeb wanted to tell with his scent is “Hobbit-ish” in nature, he said. The scent is called Underhill, the name hobbit Frodo Baggins takes when he leaves the Shire and begins his journey to deliver the ring to Rivendell. The scent’s 14 ingredients are meant to mimic what Frodo and his friends might have smelled along the way, said Deeb. They include leather, beer, cedar and other woods, tobacco and wild herbs.

An uncut sheet of playing cards from Misc. Goods Co.
An uncut sheet of playing cards from Misc. Goods Co.

Deeb decided to make a solid beeswax cologne largely for aesthetic reasons. Misc. Goods Co. is all about aesthetics, and bottles are too generic and boring. A solid-form cologne gave him options.

He settled on the present form: a palm-sized wooden oval box that snaps open and shut using magnets. The .22-ounce cologne is in a well inside in a removable metal tin.

The cover of the box depicts a hobbit hole in front of a rising/setting sun. The words “We must decide how to spend the moments which are given us” encircle the box. These words approximate the advice Gandalf gave Frodo. Deeb said it’s kind of a life philosophy — you don’t know or control what’s coming your way, but you can control how you meet those things.

On the back of the box is a strip of inlaid ox horn. Deeb said the magnet closure was meant to feel a little like “magic,” and it does.

At a recent trade show, the upscale outdoor retailer Orvis expressed interest in ordering. It’s easy to understand why. Although the scent has faded in the past three hours, I still smell like the woods.

Misc. Goods Co. products are available in 60 stores in New York City and at least 20 in Los Angeles, but you’d be hard pressed to find them here in Louisville. Deeb said 60 percent of the brand’s business is wholesale, and this has given them “the opportunity to become a national brand.”

He said he’s proof you can sell in New York and Los Angeles without being on one of the coasts.

“We don’t want to live in those cities,” he said.

You can find him this weekend at the Made Market, a free event featuring local crafts people. Made Market runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at The Pointe, 1205 E. Washington St.

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