Making scents

All-natural men’s grooming products honor a great-smelling grandfather.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

According to research from the Statistic Brain Research Institute, U.S. department stores carried 1,165 different perfume brands in 2015, mostly targeted at women.

However, the U.S. male fragrance market is expected to increase in the next several years. In 2014, there was a 3% increase in men’s grooming product sales, to $6.3 billion, with shaving-related purchases accounting for $2.9 billion, and men’s toiletries adding another $3.4 billion, according to Euromonitor International, a business intelligence research firm.

In Mount Horeb, Kyle LaFond, 37, is looking to capture just a tiny piece of that fragrance pie. His startup company, American Provenance, manufactures a line of grooming products for men that is all natural and preservative-free, and it’s made by hand with minimal ingredients. “We don’t need to jam our products with garbage,” he insists.

LaFond’s idea dates back to his days as a middle school teacher, when a class project designed for his students actually prompted him to pay more attention to ingredient labels. He didn’t like what he saw: popular products were often loaded with “bad ingredients.” So he set out to do better. “The first deodorant I made was not very good,” he admits, but he kept tinkering.

After years of perfecting his product line — often using friends as guinea pigs — LaFond launched American Provenance in May as a tribute to his grandfather, a Swiss dairy farmer who he says “always smelled awesome.”

Now, in addition to men’s aftershave and deodorant, American Provenance offers cologne, hair pomade, and beard balm in four distinct scents, from minty to woodsy to smoky to exotic.



At the family farm, LaFond makes, labels, and packages each product. Scents are created from a mix of essential oils and 190-proof organic grape alcohol purchased from Washington state. It’s not cheap, he notes. A five-gallon jug costs about $800.

Personally, his favorite scents are Fastballs & Fisticuffs, which he describes as “light,” or the eucalyptus and minty scent of Shotguns & Shenanigans, but there’s also Lanterns & Lures, and Brass Knuckles & Branding Irons, among others. “I don’t like overwhelming smells,” LaFond explains. “My stuff is for whoever is wearing it and whomever is closest to them.”

The Middleton native also spent 15 years working in various capacities for Capital Brewery before deciding to pursue this idea full time. He relied on the UW Small Business Development Center for advice and direction, and he funded his company with $30,000 of his own money and an SBA loan for another $30,000, thanks to the State Bank of Cross Plains.

The business goal, he says, is for careful and sustainable growth. “I don’t want to outpace myself. This is a long-term thing.”

Profitability could come after the forthcoming holiday season, he believes, saying most men’s products are sold in the fourth quarter, and he’s also been encouraged to add a women’s line. Actually, women represent 80% of his customers, he says, because they often shop for their significant others or families and tend to appreciate healthier options.

Even his labels, made from crushed rock, are green. “There’s zero waste with all my products,” LaFond notes. “I’m not trying to be the bright, flashy guy. I’m just trying to tell a story and get people to think about what they’re using.”

American Provenance LLC
608.338.5953  |

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