Nicole Miller surprised the menswear industry when she closed the doors to her Seattle retail shops last summer. “After nearly nine years of selling pants to people who need pants, I have decided to close my Blackbird stores to focus on the wholesale sales of our number one products: Blackbird incense pyres, beard oil and black square soap,” she said in July, adding that those products had been doing so well at wholesale that it would have been foolish not to dedicate more energy to it.
Under the Blackbird name, Miller has added a line of seven fragrances (10ml. roll-ons for $38 retail), six more cube-shaped soaps ($14 retail), a black licorice liquid hand soap (8oz. for $28), shaving oil (2oz. for $28) and aftershave (4oz. for $38). The nine unconventionally scented (rose and anise, tomato leaf and fern), long-burning incense pyres come 20 to a tin for $28.
Miller has also helped two niche perfumers launch and step up their own businesses. Olympic Orchids was started by biologist Dr. Ellen Covey, whose love of orchids grew into a perfume collection. David Falsberg, a gifted perfumer and longtime Blackbird customer, launched Phoenicia Perfumes with five unusual scents, like Skin Graft—a mix of floral, band-aid and honey notes.
Retailers that have picked up the Blackbird collection include Steven Alan, Haberdash, Portland Dry Goods and the Japanese chain Tomorrowland. All Blackbird, Olympic Orchids and Phoenicia products are available for wholesale with low-or no-minimum orders, and for retail on BlackbirdBallard.com.