You may hear a collective “Eau, la la!” this week as Silver Lake-based men’s grooming e-tailer, themotley.com, debuts its first cologne, Atlas. Developed by local perfumer Jacqueline Steele of Goest Perfumes, the scent features key notes of Atlas cedar, oak moss, amber musk, and clove, with hints of worn leather, ginger, cardamom, bergamot and green mandarin. Each bottle of cologne is hand-poured in Los Angeles and comes packaged in a tin personalized with the recipient’s name. So, in my case, the label reads, “Compounded & filled in Los Angeles, California for Ingrid.”
Co-founded by Matthew Ruggieri and his sister, Madison, the Motley business first launched in 2010 out of the Ruggieris’ San Fernando Valley home. The online boutique offers a well-curated collection of more than 40* brands that span the manscaping spectrum of skincare, hair care and shaving. With grooming advice, product picks by a Details magazine editor, road-testing of every product on the site, and the option to text, phone or live chat with a team member, the site aims to be much more than skin-deep.
Thursday, the brand also announced that "Glee" actor Darren Criss will become an investor and third partner in the Motley. Criss discovered the Motley while shopping online and is a major fan of the brand. Beyond a business alliance, Criss will dole out grooming advice on the site, and advise on product development.
The Ruggieri siblings personally worked with Steele for about three months to develop the brand’s debut scent.
“The musk was very important because it’s such a classic, familiar, iconic scent, and the cedar helps modernize it,” says Matthew. “The goal was to create one [scent] that absolutely defines our brand.”
“We decided to go with a splash form because it’s a more intimate application experience,” continues Madison. “Rather than just spraying and letting the scent land wherever it lands, you are able to pinpoint exactly where you want to apply the fragrance. It’s a much more traditional application form. Fifty years ago or so, it’s the way men’s cologne was applied, and we liked the idea of going back to that. More recently, everything’s become a spray. And with a spray, it’s really easy to over-apply and you go through it a lot faster because you are spraying more quantity at a time.”
“It’s also smaller and has a lot less bulk than a lot of the fragrances out there,” adds Matthew, “so it’s easier to travel with.”
“When I first smelled the finished scent, it just made me think of a well-traveled man,” says Madison, who came up with the cologne’s name, Atlas.
The Motley’s branded line also includes three combs that are handmade in Switzerland, Buckler’s Moisture Rich Soap, Buckler’s Chapped Lip Remedy, Buckler’s Chapped Skin Remedy and three candles.
It sounds like more scents may be in the works, and the pair is currently developing an extended line of men’s grooming products that will debut later this fall.
But don’t look for a bricks-and-mortar store any time soon.
“We really like the Internet sphere,” says Matthew. “Our mission is to provide this really convenient grooming experience.”
Atlas cologne by the Motley, $45 for a 1-ounce bottle at themotley.com
[*Updated 8/2/2013 at 3:43 p.m.: In an earlier version of this post, the number of brands offered was listed incorrectly. The Motley offers a total of 200 products across 40 different brands, not 200 brands, as originally stated.]