Dasein is back! In 2020, Founder Sam Rader closed the chapter of Dasein and we thought the brand was gone forever. Fast forward to 2022 when Dasein super fan, Jenna Lyles, acquired the brand and brought it back to life. We chatted with Jenna and learned all about Dasein, past, present and future and learned how Jenna herself fell in love with Dasein, found her first love of scent when she was 3 years old and loves to cultivate her field of 200 peony plants in Atlanta each spring.
Meet Jenna Lyles, the new owner of Dasein!
Q: Your name, Dasein (pronounced DAH-zyne), what does it mean?
Dasein is an existentialist concept that refers to the experience of existing that is specific to us as humans. Best translated from German as “presence”, this understanding of what it means to be human describes an involved, in-the-world kind of being–we are not separate from our material, sensual experience of our lives. Dasein refers to the marriage of that being-in-the-world involvedness with self-awareness, another feature of being human in particular.
Q: Sweet, so give us the DL...you’re the new owner of Dasein. How, when, why did this occur?
It’s been such a wild ride! When I learned that Dasein’s founder, Dr. Sam Rader, intended to close the business to write her book, I was, along with so many other fans of the brand, totally bummed out. A friend and I reached out to Sam to ask if a new chapter for Dasein might be possible, and we bought the business together. We spent 2021 bringing the top-selling fragrances back. I took full responsibility for the brand earlier this year, and I’ve been building a small team of amazing humans to help bring new life to the brand and write this new chapter moving forward.
Q: How did you first learn about Dasein/when did you start wearing it?
I stumbled upon WINTER at YOUNG BLOOD Boutique here in Atlanta, sometime around 2014, when the brand had very recently launched. It was love at first sniff. I wore the fragrance for years and always got so many compliments. I bought WINTER NIGHTS when it came out as well, and still love that scent. I was drawn to the straightforward philosophy of the brand and the imaginativeness of the fragrances–it all felt very modern and American, but with the elegance and natural beauty often left out of that type of aesthetic.
Q: Of the 3 scents, do you have a favorite? Tell us why.
WINTER will always be my favorite, and it remains our best seller. It has a singular, unlike-anything-elseness about it while still being so wearable. Wear it anytime, anywhere, anyhow. I think WINTER NIGHTS is a perfect date night scent. And I love WINTER GREEN especially in the summer–it's so cooling and fresh.
Q: What are you most proud of what the Dasein brand has accomplished so far?
I’m so proud of bringing this brand back from its near-demise! Actually producing WINTER and WINTER NIGHTS in 2021 was a total comedy of errors–from supply chain issues to shady vendors to the trials and tribulations of maintaining high ingredient quality standards. The whole process took ten months.
The Dasein fans & friends base was so so gracious and supportive throughout the whole thing. We desperately wanted to be able to ship in time for the holidays, and it just didn’t happen. People who had been waiting a year for these fragrances had to wait still longer, and everyone extended such kindness and understanding to us as we worked out the kinks and prepared to ship pre-orders.
I’m also proud to be back on the shelves at boutiques and perfumeries across the country and beyond! Our stockists have always been important partners to us, and one of the main ways people find and fall in love with our fragrances–the same way I did!
This is less talked about, but Dasein was one of the first indie brands to eschew gendered marketing right out of the gate. Our fragrances have always been unisex, and gone beyond limited cultural prescriptions about who should wear what for what reasons. We say if you love it, wear it!
Q: What plans do you have for Dasein for 2023?
We’re already preparing for our next big production round for 2023. I hope to have a more consistent sampling program–we just launched sample sets this week and they sold out in two days! I’m also working on some new and exciting products. We’ve seen a lot of interest in brand new fragrances, perhaps bringing back some of the other seasons, and other formats like candles.
Q: Tell us about Dasein’s aesthetic and style. How was it developed, what should it convey to the user?
Dasein was inspired by a trip Sam took to Big Sur in 2013. She was taken in by the combination of spring lilac, sagebrush, saltwater, woodsmoke, and wet pavement she smelled in the air. She went home and taught herself how to blend perfume, with Dasein’s first collection being inspired by the seasons. Our fragrances are heavy on natural materials–which make them particularly evocative, resonant, and both impressionist and photorealistic at turns. She has a very avant-garde style that has become a thread throughout the fabric of the brand and informs our penchant for striking, one-of-a-kind scents.
Q: Dasein’s fragrances are colored how did this decision come to be?
We wanted a way to distinguish our fragrances from each other visually and convey more of the personality of the fragrance. WINTER is not dyed–it's this beautiful cool yellow that looks warm and frosty at the same time in the bottle. WINTER NIGHTS is smoky and sexy and has a dark, spicy, musky effect that is conveyed well by the color black. WINTER GREEN is very fresh and herbaceous and the teal conveys that well.
Let’s learn more about you!
Q: How long have you been interested in scent and perfume? How did you start learning about it?
My first memory was of perfume! I received a Little Mermaid cosmetics kit for Christmas–I was maybe 3 years old. I was obsessed with the Little Mermaid. One of the things in the kit was this little plastic bottle of mermaid perfume. It was quickly confiscated, because I was allergic to it. I remember looking up at it on the window ledge in my nana’s kitchen, with sunlight streaming through the clear, red, and teal bottle. Perhaps this whole endeavor has been a quest to recover my lost mermaid perfume!
Q: What do you want someone who wears your fragrance to know about you and your brand?
When you wear a Dasein fragrance, you’re wearing a piece of art. And in fact, you’re part of the art, bringing the fragrance to life with your own chemistry and way of being in the world. Our Winter Collection has contributions from both Sam Rader and Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors. Both of these perfumers are self-taught, instinctive, deeply creative artists with both a respect for and playfulness with traditional olfactory arts. Their work takes fragrance beyond its historical confines and definitions with a distinctly modern, poetic result.
Q: As a new small business owner of a fragrance company, what challenges are you facing?
There are so many challenges! The supply chain is still finicky and it's a real challenge to try to keep our prices where they are when every single thing that goes into a bottle of our fragrances has gone up in price in the past two years.
More exciting are the creative challenges–we retired our other seasons (Spring, Summer, and Autumn), because they just weren’t resonating as broadly as WINTER. But people write in all the time asking for those fragrances, so it is yet to be seen whether we will bring them back or not. The thing people want the most from us though is new fragrances–and the challenge there will be to strike a balance between continuity with and distinction from our existing offerings. It’s all very exciting.
Q: In the same regard, what do you find to be rewarding?
As a hardcore WINTER lover, it was so rewarding to be able to bring this fragrance back to all of my fellow fans. We have a lot of customers who wear this scent all day every day all year long, and it is a joy to make something so beautiful, wearable, and lovable available again.
Q: Before owning Dasein, what was your 9-5 like?
I am still working that 9-5! Right now, Dasein is a total labor of love. I raise funds for progressive organizations that aim to increase the political power of women of color. This is a real passion for me–Black, indigenous, and other women of color have the power and vision to take our country in a direction that will create more opportunity, safety, and freedom for all of us. Yet their voices are widely and systematically excluded from the democratic process–it is wild to me that the US has yet to see a Black woman governor in any state. We need to change that.
The majority of Americans want equality, equity, and access for everyone. The majority of Americans think that everyone’s vote should count. The majority of Americans think that people should be free to make decisions about their own bodies and lives. But we have a vocal–and increasingly violent–minority of extremists who want our government to enshrine and enforce only their values and beliefs, at the expense and subjugation of everyone else. They win by excluding people from the political process–we win by including everyone.
Some of the organizations I love & support are the Working Families Party, Care in Action, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Groundswell Fund, All Above All, and MediaJustice. I would invite readers to join me in supporting them! You can expect to see Dasein supporting voting rights and related causes in the future.
Q: Outside of Dasein, what other creative outlets do you have?
I love gardening. I’m especially enamored of peonies and have a small field of about 200 plants. There is nothing better than having your arms full of giant peony blooms in the spring–except maybe having a similar quantity of garden roses…
Q: Where do you consider your happy place?
The Blue Ridge mountains
Q: What is your favorite word?
Q: What is your least favorite word?
Moist (ugh ew)
Q: What turns you on?
Giving; fresh flowers; music
Q: What turns you off?
Voter suppression & cynicism
Q: What’s your favorite note?
Right now, rose & cardamom are tied
Q: What’s your least favorite note?
Q: What are you smelling right now?
Klubwasser by Wiener Blut, The Poet by Kismet Olfactive, Neon Graffiti by Jazmin Sarai, and Bitter Pink Ginger incense by Scentsual.
Q: If you could describe your brand in 3 words, what would they be?
Imaginative, singular, poetic
Q: What’s next for you?
Dasein has so much potential as a creative, inventive, and unique fragrance brand. My focus over the next few years will be realizing that potential and bringing new, original ideas to life. There is so much hype and same-same in niche and indie fragrance. We aim to offer our customers’ noses unique fragrances worth seeking out and sharing.
Q: Is there anything else you want our readers (or us) to know?
I’m so excited to be back in the Olfactif sample box this year!! It’s such a cool way for people to learn about new fragrances they may never have found otherwise, and I’m so excited for people to smell WINTER and WINTER NIGHTS in this adventurous context.
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Photo credits: Dasein
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