Founders Tammy and Tyler Kraemer met while attending law school in Chicago, where early in their relationship, Tammy and her friends noticed the latter’s penchant for sniffing his pencil and law books. After they were married, she mentioned Tyler’s “weird habit” to her mother-in-law, who informed her that there was, coincidentally (or not), a family history of perfumery. Tyler’s great-great grandfather John Blocki’s ascendance and 70-year run as one of the most successful original American perfumers was poorly documented and largely forgotten.
Tyler’s mother later stoked Tammy’s curiosity with the one of the few known records (at the time) of Blocki’s existence—a copy of “The 5th Anniversary Volume of the Veteran Druggist Association” collected from a family estate, which contained an entry about John and (brother) William Blocki. The book would mark the first step on a journey that took the couple from crack historians to history re-creation.[/vc_column_text]
After developing an intense interest in Damask Rose oil, their first foray into fragrance was the production of a Bulgarian rosewater face mist. They cut their teeth doing everything themselves— including formulation, labeling, packaging, and distribution. While the project was eventually set aside, the experience provided them the foundation and education necessary to make a run at relaunching Blocki.
Continuing to monitor the fragrance industry, they noticed several years later that niche fragrances were coming into vogue. After extensive research, Tammy plied Tyler with a binder filled with remnants of Blocki’s history, and a ticket to the business meeting of the American Society of Perfumers. True to the fortuitous thread that binds their story, the first person he presented the binder to was award-winning perfumer Kevin Verspoor, and the next incarnation of Blocki was born. In 2013, Tammy left her job in the software industry to focus solely on the new business.
While Blocki’s scents are informed by the delicate floral waters created during the original incarnation of the company, “John Blocki wasn’t making fragrances for European kings and queens,” but for the emerging “frontier aristocracy” building lives in a new country filled with possibility. Hence, their fragrances are fresh, but assertive. The packaging is anything but demure, favoring a more raw, tactile box. The cap is large, heavy, and matte; the engraving on the bottle is deep, requiring 12 passes to achieve the desired effect. Its presentation is almost architectural, to “capture the rawness and industrial energy of the America at the turn of the century. As a heritage brand you have to honor your past. [But] we didn’t want to copy what John had done…but sprinkle in elements—this is OUR Blocki.”
That balance between homage and overhaul plays out in Blocki’s online presence, as well. The site elegantly dispenses with the typical grid layout found on most E-commerce sites, balancing artwork with a clean user experience.
While the formulations may have changed, it’s apparent the commitment to the joy and values of being a family-run business never will. From everything Tyler and Tammy have been able to unearth about Blocki’s past, it’s evident that human connection was paramount. “John Blocki just loved people, seeing the delight on their faces by providing something beautiful.” That joy in providing something beautiful and visceral to others is evident in the new owners, as they pay a fitting, personal tribute, and breathe new life into a history unearthed.