Hall Newbegin brings the mountains to the men, with sourced scents.
Oakland-based Juniper Ridge bottles the essence of the West Coast into cologne, soap, and sprays named for the regions they were sourced (Big Sur, Yuba River, Siskiyou County) and sold internationally. Meet founder Hall Newbegin, wilderness forager and accidental perfumer.
Newbegin got his start in herbs—doing harvesting for various companies—as well as mushroom foraging. He loved the smell of the outdoors and wondered why no one had tried to preserve it. “I’m a backpacker and a hiker,” he says. “I’ve just always seen the world through my nose.”
Learning the Ropes
You can’t exactly enroll in a course on wilderness perfume, so Newbegin sought information on techniques used hundreds of years ago. “You go back to these old books, and there are all these chemical drawings from people in the 15th century.”
It turns out you can make a fragrance from just about anything. “I’ve found you can take dirt and tincture it. And the ocean contributes to what the air smells like, so we fool around with seaweed and mussels,” says Newbegin. “That’s just the joy of doing what we do. You’re out there and grabbing things like, ‘What does this smell like?’ ”
Tools of the Trade
Juniper Ridge’s field lab van has a converted whiskey still to sample things on the road, but the team breaks out the big guns when it comes to producing the perfumes. “We get large amounts of plant material. A 500-gallon still is about seven feet high and four feet wide. You fill that thing up with redwood needles, and you’ve only got a beer bottle of essential oil.”
The hardest part of the job isn’t out in the field but convincing people to give Juniper Ridge a shot. “We started using the term ‘wilderness perfume,’ and people are like, ‘I hate perfume.’ They’re the people we’re after because people who hate perfume love our stuff.”
For info, visit juniperridge.com.