PORTLAND, Maine — Aromatherapy is not just for humans. Cows, as it turns out, don’t like aftershave, but do have a weakness for sandalwood. And, if Lisa Brodar is on the right track, so do the men who milk them.
The owner of Portland General Store spent months developing a fragrance that both humans and bovines could warm up to. Her farmer’s cologne is making a splash.
“It’s made for the hipster in Brooklyn who joins a CSA [community-supported agriculture organization] and wants to support local farmers,” said Brodar, who released her ninth fragrance at her York Street apothecary this fall for “men who work or dream of working with livestock.”
Farmer’s cologne, which sells for $110 a bottle, is her masterpiece.
“It’s not an easy one to put together, to make both beautiful for a man or a woman, and also pleasing for cows,” said the perfumer.
Brodar, dubbed “the nose” because her olfactory sense is so acute, stumbled across an article about bovines being bothered by synthetic odors. She soon discovered, “there are essential oils that are beneficial to cows. Humans are not the only ones that benefit from aromatherapy. I chose the ones that I like the best.”
Australian sandalwood, violet leaf and blue tansy are blended with organic cane-sugar alcohol. The result is a mildly woodsy scent that is calming to cows and might get you a date Friday night.
“There are no chemicals whatsoever, it’s just alcohol and essential oils,” said Brodar, who also makes small-batch beeswax candles, natural soaps and high-end grooming products.
The unscientific study revealed that both young and mature calves favored Portland General Store’s scent over a mass-market cologne. “It was lightly tested. I’m hoping to go out and do more testing,” said Brodar. “We can’t say it’s statistically accurate.”
Though developed with farmers and homesteaders in mind, how will the cologne, sold in 2-ounce glass jars, go over in the country?
For some working farmers, it’s a tough sell.
“It’s hard for me to imagine dairy farmers spending any money on cologne,” said Sarah Wiederkehr, manager at Winter Hill Farm in Freeport. “And we know a lot of dairy farmers.”
Those that get up early to milk cows and shovel manure typically aren’t making any extra money to be spending on such luxury items, she said.
Plus, Wiederkehr and co-manager Steve Burger like their bouquet. They don’t mask their musk.
“No matter where we go, we have a smell about us that links us to the dairy. There are a lot of smells going on on the farm and they are not bad smells,” she said.
Brodar, who opened Portland General Store in 2007 with partner Troy Tyler, says her products such as tobacco beard oil and the professor cologne are not meant to be taken literally.
“Professor isn’t really for one. I’m an artist and believe in an image of this man,” she said.
Similarly, her newest release is for “a farmer, a rancher, a cowboy who cares about fashion and the environment.”
At Portland Dry Goods on Commercial Street, Brodar’s colognes sell well. The farmer’s blend hit the shelves a month ago, and “it’s a nice addition,” said Dustin Otton, the store’s buyer.
“There is a whole movement of people who have an interest in the outdoorsy life,” he said. “They are looking for products that will get the job done, but have a touch of luxury to them.”
They also evoke Maine and are made up the road. That’s gold on this touristy strip.
“People from Boston and New York pick them up as a souvenir,” said Otton. “There is a lot of interest in it.”