Founder and owner Selah Jael started House of Foster originally under the name Wick & Maple in 2018 with a small, rotating selection of candles.
Jael sold candles at fleas, markets and pop-ups, including North Market Night Market, introducing candles with fragrances outside of what people were used to.
“I wanted to really just elevate their experience and get them more involved with the actual fragrances instead of just picking out things based on packaging or what smells good,” she said. “Even if they liked a certain scent I really made sure…to tell them why they liked it, why they were attracted to it.”
But last October, Jael decided to rebrand to a full-fledged fragrance house with House of Foster.
The niche fragrance house is designed around a commitment to the authenticity of the fragrance industry, said Jael. The brand now offers fragrances in a variety of mediums, which include signature perfumes and care essentials, with culture-led fragrances still at the forefront.
“The ethos is still pretty much the same, just getting people involved in that process and introducing them to things that they really can’t find in other brands, and they definitely can’t find locally,” she said. “A lot of times when you pick up a fragrance, something such as origin, the notes and the accords, are true to where the ingredients actually came from.”
House of Foster has had to increase production dramatically in the past year, which could partly be attributed to being featured in PopSugar in a gift guide by fellow Columbus business owner Lalese Stamps of Lolly Lolly Ceramics.
She’s also begun taking private clients, designing fragrances for local brands like Potion Matcha and Splendor Revival, and received attention from Black-owned all-natural marketplace BLK + GRN and retail brand Madewell.
Jael said the brand would have to release products in batches because orders were coming in so quickly, and because products can take a few weeks to cure or be shipped in.
To help acquire a larger studio space, more storage, its first employees and possibly even a storefront, House of Foster is raising $30,000. The campaign runs through Oct. 9 on IFundWomen, a startup funding platform for women-owned and led businesses.
She says having a dedicated physical space in addition to the online store can also help the brand enhance its sustainability efforts, by allowing some customers to visit and test out fragrances in-store.
As head perfumer, Jael tells customers and clients that despite being presented with different brands, scents, and price points, many fragrances will smell the same for a number of reasons. First, some have the same manufacturers, second, because many people gravitate to some of the same scents, and third, some brands are bound by seasonal releases.
“I tend to focus on fragrances that are gender-neutral, which is a big deal because a lot of times people will like different things, and you can be drawn to something that would be marketed as androgynous that’s not necessarily,” she said.
“I get to really make fragrances that are expansive and that everyone can kind of fall in love with on their own,” she continued. “It’s something that most of the time you can wear year round and to [your] liking, and something that is unique and something that you probably haven’t smelled before.”
Support House of Foster via IFundWomen.
Learn more about House of Foster at thehouseoffoster.com.